10 Creative Subscription Boxes for Artists

I’ve always been interested in trying subscription boxes for makeup or handmade goods, but I recently tried looking into art subscription boxes to see if there were options out there, and there are! Here are a few – this is mostly a list for myself but if there are others out there that are interested, maybe this will be helpful. If you’ve ever tried any of these please let us know in the comments!

Lettering Box from Cratejoy

 

This Lettering Box from Cratejoy looks enticing for me particularly because it looks like it would have items in it that I could experiment with for my watercolor paintings. I especially have been wanting to test a metallic Prima Watercolor set!

SketchBox

SketchBox has been featured in Nylon Magazine, Apartment Therapy, and Buzzfeed! The last box had the “Ink” theme and featured a set of Copic Markers, Tombow Calligraphy Pens, a Princeton Mini Detailer Brush,  and the Zebra Double Ended Brush Pen which hasn’t hit stores yet.  This subscription is fun because SketchBox puts DIY videos on their blog for techniques using all of the products you receive in your box.

ArtSnacks

ArtSnacks was created by the same lovely folks that created the Eat Sleep Draw Tumblr blog, where you can submit your art to be featured on the blog. This seems to be the most creative subscription art box that I’ve found – they like to partner with artists, authors, and non-profit organizations to bring you extra goodies like pins, notebooks, and more – and some kind of snack or candy is always included! October’s box includes Marabu Fineliner Graphix PensWinsor & Newton Drawing Ink, a Speedball Calligraphy Nib Holder and Nib, a Connoisseur Protégé Short Handle White Nylon Brush, and a ZIG Fudebiyori Brush Pen. It also contains a Things Are What You Make of Them Pencil Pin and Mini Zine by Adam J.K. – a collaborative addition – as well as candy!




Creative Art Box

This awesome art box chooses to send a box to their subscribers monthly based on a medium and and tools for achieving creative work in that medium. This one looks like it’s best for beginners, but there have been some really great unboxings and tutorials on Youtube that prove even the professionals will enjoy this fun box. This box definitely includes the most products as well – you can see the list from last month’s box here.

Palletteful Packs

Each month, Palletteful Packs curates an art box for their subscribers based on a theme. Like other boxes, they also like to send their subscribers new and exciting products. They offer three different types of boxes, the Petite Pack, the Palletteful Pack, and the Young Artist Pack.

Smile Create Repeat

Smile Create Repeat sends both art supplies and lessons for how to use the supplies in the box. The October box included the Versachalk chalk marker, colored pencils, a colorless blender, and other goodies not listed.

ScrawlrBox

ScrawlrBox is similar to ArtSnacks in that they include candy in their subscription boxes. September’s box included Royal Talens Van Gogh Watercolour Paint, a Pentel Correct Express Pen, a Koh-I-Noor Mondeluz Water Colour Pencil, a Seawhite White Synthetic Round Brush, and Bockingford Watercolour Paper.

Smart Art Box

Smart Art Box is another great beginner art subscription box. Each box’s theme is a different project. August’s featured Sennelier Full Sticks Soft Pastels, a Koh-I-Noor Black Drawing Paper Pad, a Crescent 300 Cold Press Illustration Board, a General Pencil Magic Black Artist Eraser, and a Stumps And Tortillions Set.

InspireME Crate

InspireME Crate looks amazing – it comes with lesson plans and art prompts for those who might struggle with a creative block or do better with instructions. There are also warm ups, drawing challenges, tutorials, and more. Besides all of these great things, the box also comes with 4-6 quality art supplies.

Art Bento Box

Art Bento Box is an Etsy subscription box that is geared towards artists who like to work with collage, texture, composition, handmade paper, ATC’s, art journals, and more. You can get the Winter 2017 subscription box here!

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Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever tried any of these subscription boxes. What are your thoughts on them – are they worth it? What are the pro’s and cons? Also, don’t forget to subscribe to The Art Spectrum for more posts like this!


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New Mexico Artist Christy Schwathe

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Today I’m pleased to introduce artist Christy Schwathe from New Mexico. Her work and story inspires me, and I hope it will inspire you as well!

Can you tell me a little about your background and interests? What’s life like in New Mexico?

I grew up living on the second story of an old house, in a small town in Colorado, where my parents ran a restaurant on the first floor surrounded by vegetable and flower gardens. It was an interesting and busy childhood with days filled with different people and projects and nights falling asleep with the muffled sounds of silverware clattering and delicious smells drifting upstairs. Besides being influenced by the hard work and creativity of my parents, I surrounded myself with artists, both in my family and the community. I figured out early that the restaurant business was way too much work and making art sounded way more fun. Eventually, I ended up earning my degree in art at UNM in Albuquerque, NM, falling in love with printmaking and focusing on that as well as drawing. In the years since school, I’ve worn many hats, all of them creative. I’ve spent time working in art supply stores, printing clothing and t shirts, managing a small open press and for a while I had a small business sewing bags and accessories out of recycled materials before coming back to making my art full time.

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When I found my way to New Mexico, it instantly just felt like home, and I’ve been in the state ever since. New Mexico is a unique place, perhaps a bit rough around the edges but filled with the traditions and histories of many different cultures that make this financially poor place feel so rich in other aspects. There is an inherent creativity here, mostly brought about by necessity, that seems to magically turn everyone into an artist of some sort. Beyond the cultural richness, the creativity, the sunshine and the natural beauty of the place the thing that always made it feel like home to me is how friendly people are here. New Mexico is the kind of place where strangers will not only say hello to you, but will end up sharing their life story with you while you pass the time waiting in line somewhere. Having gotten so used to this friendly, laid-back style, I’m not sure if I could ever get used to being anywhere else.

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For the time being, I am living in the tiny village of Costilla, north of Taos with my partner, Bradley Sleep, also an artist and a silversmith, and a handful of cats. Here, you are more likely to hear Spanish being spoken than English and humans are far outnumbered by the elk, coyote and rattlesnakes, inhabited homes outnumbered by long abandoned, adobe structures slowly melting back into the earth. It is a bit lonely and harsh around here, despite being beautiful, which I find alternately frustrating and inspiring. When I’m not working in my little studio, I stay busy with my other obsessions, sewing, knitting, small scale farming, and cooking (oh how I miss the convenience of take out). And when we find rare moments of time to do something else, Bradley and I head out into the valley to explore and do a bit of rock hounding or up into the mountains for some hiking or camping.

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Many of your pieces combine the female figure or portrait with elements from nature, or are devoid of any context and are simply a portrait. What kind of inspiration do you draw on when creating these?

I’ve always been drawn to the human form as a means of communicating emotion and I tend to gravitate towards female subjects simply because, being female myself, I relate more strongly to them. The inspiration for my subject matter comes directly from my own life, living in a solitary space and surrounded by almost nothing but nature. I think the solitary nature of many of my pieces also speaks to what I see as a trend of people feeling more alone and isolated in our current society. It seems to me that most of us suffer from feeling disconnected, from each other and from nature, and so my own personal experience relates more abstractly to humanity as a whole. I also draw on the sense of strength and independence I see in the people of this area, where people dig their heels in, work hard against the elements and adversity and emerge even stronger on the other side.

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What’s the process like of creating one of your mixed media works? How did you develop such a unique style?

My mixed media pieces seem to surface from the refuse of my life. I have an annoying habit of not wanting to throw anything away and tend to keep and collect little scraps of paper, fabric, xeroxed copies of found things, old books, words and sentences cut from magazines, anything that interests me visually, conceptually or texturally. Seeking inspiration, I’ll start dumping all these bits and pieces out, fumbling through them until I find something I feel I have to use and starting with piecing together a background of sorts. Often, I am wondering what would this or that look like mixed with this or that and maybe with this on top, so I try it and see where it goes. For example, with my ransom poem paintings, I start with a background, then work on painting an image (typically a figure or portrait) on top and end with piecing together the poem, seeking words and phrases that reinforce the emotion I’m hoping to convey while at the same time keeping it all somewhat cryptic, I never want it to lose all sense of mystery.

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My style tends to shift around a bit as I grow and learn as an artist, and I quickly get bored with doing the same thing over and over. I think my style stays unique through it all because that’s just the way it comes out, that’s just the way my hands and my eyes and my brain communicate with one another. There are an infinite number of things to draw and paint and an infinite number of ways to draw or paint them, but no matter how I approach a piece and expect it to turn out it always seems to come out looking like something I made, even when my original intentions are quite different than the finished art.

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How has business been on Etsy so far? Do you have any goals for the business or any upcoming projects that you’re working on?

Sales through my Etsy store seem to come in waves, I’ll have good months and bad months and it provides a supplemental income for me that adds to my sales through my local gallery in Taos, Taos Artisan’s Gallery, and direct sales of my art. Being able to have an online store through Etsy has really allowed me to reach out, from my little isolated chunk of the planet, to the rest of the world and share and sell my art to people who never would have seen it otherwise, so priceless for those of us living in rural areas.

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The latest addition to my little business was the purchase of a really nice printer and a fancy schmancy camera which, after learning how to use both of them, have allowed me to make high quality, archival prints from my originals. These days, I’ve been working on a lot of time consuming, original oil paintings that I sell through my gallery. I love investing so much in each piece, but I realize that it often puts them in a price range that is unattainable for many people. The fact that I can now make prints to order at affordable prices makes me feel like more people can get their hands on my art and I’ve been working on adding more and more prints to my store.

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My long and short term goals are pretty simple and pretty much the same… every single day I get to keep working on my art is a small success!

Make sure to like Christy’s Facebook page and check her out on Etsy!

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From New Zealand to Isreal: An Interview With Artist Emily Penso

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I am honored to introduce the wonderful artist Emily Penso, who has a quite interesting life story! Emily sells her surreal and whimsical artwork in her Etsy shop, Studio Lavaan, and excitedly agreed to be interviewed on the blog!

  • Can you just tell me a little about yourself; where did you grow up, go to school, what are you up to now?

I was lucky enough to grow up in New Zealand, in the South Island city of Dunedin. It was a wonderful place to grow up and although it’s quite a cold part of the world, most of my childhood memories involve sunshine and bare feet.

I am the middle of three children, with two wonderfully loving and supportive parents  who shaped our world with a comfortable home, a love of the outdoors and an appreciation of the arts – I remember many a boring gallery trip! But although at the time I would have preferred to be playing with Barbie or some other weird toy, there was always at least one art work that would completely mesmerize me.  

 During my high school years (sweet 16) my Dad landed a job in Canberra, Australia. So my small world got bigger and we moved across the Tasman. It was a tough move for me, but character building, and definitely helped guide me into pursuing art.  I ended up studying painting at the Canberra School of Art which was just awesome and completely changed my life.  
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Now, curiously, I find myself living in Israel (which is another epic tale, but involves meeting a beautiful Israeli in India and marrying him in Cyprus). We live in a lovely village on a hill with our two completely gorgeous boys, and a white cat and a black dog. We have a small olive grove which we use for making oil, a small studio which I use for making art, and lots of little vegetable gardens. It suits us well. 

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  • Your work is so surreal and whimsical, where did the inspiration for these types of works come from? Is there anything else that inspires you, just in general?

I guess my mind has always been a bit of a peculiar place, and for as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by things that are out of the ordinary. My earliest surrealist influence almost certainly came from Rene Magritte.  My parents had a book on Magritte and throughout my childhood I loved pawing through the pages. It was entertainment that never got old, no matter how old I got, and every time I looked I would discover something new.

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Another big influence would be dreams. I am a serious dreamer – day dreams and night dreams – but I am particularly inspired by night dreams as they are totally wild, complete raw sub-consciousness, and always purely surreal.  

The world around me is also a major source of inspiration; Birds, insects, trees, people, land forms, and the interactions between everything that exists – I am constantly in awe of this world we live in. It never gets boring! It is a mysterious moving masterpiece that I love being a part of. This spiritual connection that I have with life is also a bit of an influence. It is much easier for me to articulate what it is that I feel spiritually through drawing than words.

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  •  A lot of your work looks like it has been sparked by unique ideas. What have been some your favorite ideas to explore with your art?  

  “You know, most of the time my work starts as a visual idea rather than a concept that I want to communicate (consciously anyway) but always through the process of making the work I begin to understand the symbolism of what I am drawing and mostly it’s personal feelings, thoughts, experiences. I approach my work with intuition, but execute it in a very precise way! Some of my favorite visual themes have been playing with scale relationships between figures, mirroring birds, and using clouds as a very deliberate compositional device (with meaning!)

Clouds have been popping up a lot lately and they are beginning to take the centre stage. I love clouds.

  •  Do you have any advice to artists or future artists on how to promote their work or how to approach getting their work out there? Advice in general?
 I think not being afraid of self-promotion is something that many artists need to overcome, and is definitely something that I have struggled with, and still struggle with to a degree. I guess I would advise emerging artists to think about what it is they want out of their art practice and use that goal to guide them in how they promote their work.
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In general, to get your work out there… approach galleries, apply for exhibitions, get help with submitting great proposals if necessary, collaborate with other artists, get involved in open group shows, exhibit as often as you can, enter art competitions, get the social media happening, create a website, open an Etsy store, take all the steps that you think are important for you as an artist. And of course…don’t let knock backs get you down, because they will happen, and great things will also happen!
  • Do you do anything fun/interesting in your free time? Any favorite hobbies or weekend activities?  

Wow, free time is something that is completely foreign to me! My little boys keep me very busy! But, I do manage to squeeze in a little bit of yoga and any chance I get I am in the garden.  In my down time I have been known to play ‘words with friends’ on my phone ( I’m mildly addicted). If I had more free time I would love to make pebble mosaic stepping stones, sew stuff ,and I’d also restore all the shabby vintage furniture that I have collected.

When my boys are all grown up I would like to do my masters, it’s a nice dream, and I’d love to learn more skills, like basket weaving and everything to do with textiles.

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You can also find Emily on her Facebook Fanpage: Emily Penso Fanpage 

And her website: emilypenso.com

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