Being profitable as an artist isn’t just selling lots of paintings, it’s also ensuring you don’t waste money on unnecessary and overpriced materials. Managing your outgoings means getting the best materials for a better price. Here are some tips and tricks to making your money go further (as I am a painter these tips will be most useful for people working on canvas).
Around one and half years ago my painting sales really started to pick up. I started producing more artwork and soon realised that buying materials bit by bit was getting expensive, so I switched to making more wholesale purchases. A fantastic part of buying wholesale isn’t just cheaper prices per item, but also that you don’t waste your time constantly going to and from art shops. When you want to start a new painting all the tools are there at your disposal. It may cost you more in the short term, but investing in a large stock of materials will pay off big time in the long term!
Here are a few online retailers which I use to get wholesale items for great prices:
Canvas by the roll
Russell and Chapple offers a great range of primed and unprimed canvas by the roll. The trick here is knowing roughly what sort of sized canvases you like to make and then choosing a width and length which suits your needs.
Trade Stretcher Bars is great for buying wholesale high quality stretcher bars to build your canvases. I haven’t found a better price online. Plus they do free delivery on ordered over £50 which saves on those wholesale purchases.
Side note: Get rid of your turps!
For those of you who work with oils I recommend replacing your turpentine with the citrus solvent Zest It – it decreases the toxic fumes in the studio, meaning less headaches, and it is better for the environment. Currently it seems Flints is the cheapest place to buy it online at £56.20 for 2.5L + delivery.
Gesso by the litre
Experiment and figure out your favourite primer, then buy it in bulk. I buy 5L tubs of gesso which keep me going for months at a time. Prices always fluctuate so just type in your favourite brand online to see the current best rates.
London Art Shops
Sometimes you need to see things from life, especially when it comes to playing with new materials. So here are a few shops I like to visit:
The best spray paint selection in the city
Chrome and Black is the London graffiti artists mecca. Their spray paint selection contains every colour variation under the sun. Perfect for when I’m looking for just the right shade for my City Punch series.
Cowling & Wilcox have a fantastic overall product selection. I highly recommend walking into one of their shops if you are looking for new materials to play with. I generally go there or to Cass Art when I buy brushes, as I want to know exactly what I am getting. In these situations I think it is worth paying more to see the products in store, though once you know your preferred tools search online for the best prices.
Old masters materials
if you want to really explore pigments there is a beautiful old shop next to the British Museum called L. Cornelissen & Sons which has an incredible understanding and selection of artist materials. Their store is probably the best in London if you want to delve into the alchemical side of your practice. But be warned it isn’t cheap!
Be aware that when you visit art shops you can end up leaving with a million things that you won’t end up using - trust me, I’ve done it many times. Be practical with those purchases!
Hopefully I’ve provided you with some nuggets of information here to get you creating beautiful art in a cost effective manner. As always, if you have your own recommendations please comment below and add to the conversation!
Happy painting x