Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This Week's Crazy Spending

I mentioned that I'd been doing some sketching and painting over the holiday weekend-- the good news is that I'm having one of my creative spurts, where I can sit for hours doodling and drawing up a storm. (Actually, I'm not sure I can draw a storm, but I'll have to try that.)
This has been partly inspired by the purchase of a new sketchbook: $9. The sketchbook made me dig out some unused pens that I've had for a while, brush-tipped markers which turned out to be quite fun to use. I filled so much of the sketchbook that I decided I needed a few more-- this was the one where I'd already decided to buy another one because I could hardly bear to put a mark on its pristine pages. So I went and bought 4 more sketchbooks, and while I was carrying them towards a register, someone working in the store came over and offered me a shopping basket.

Let me pause for a moment to say how much I appreciate savvy retailers. It drives me crazy when stores don't maximize their opportunity to make money by doing stupid things like not having enough shopping carts, or the staff totally ignoring people. The littlest thing like offering a basket to someone whose hands are full is not just a polite gesture, it is a way to clear any obstacle the customer might have towards spending more money. No one likes hard sell techniques where people try to force you to spend money, but most customers appreciate not having to work too hard if they're already inclined to drop some cash!

So anyway, once I had my basket I continued to browse around the art supplies, and happened across some lovely sets of the same brush-tipped markers I'd been using, but in wonderful color palettes. I bought four sets: a basic color set, a landscape palette, an earth tone palette, and a palette of 6 shades of grey. I can't wait to play with these! I love working with color, but paints get really messy and they aren't that portable. The exception is small boxes of watercolors, but I find watercolors really hard to control, even if I occasionally end up with good accidents.
The bad news is that the total damage at the art supply store came to $90. While on the one hand, I feel like I shouldn't casually be spending $90 on anything right now, on the other hand I always feel happy when I have my little artistic moments, and I could certainly spend $90 on stupider things.

My only regret is that I didn't shop online first: of course I googled the brand of pens and found a website selling them for quite a bit less. The shipping costs make up some of the difference, and at this point I am not going to bother to return the ones I just bought, but next time I'll know!


Anonymous said... is another great site - it's owned by Texas Art Supply, and they stock more than 10,000 items. Their prices are about comparable to the site you found, sometimes less. Utrecht is another great site/store - their store brand is cheap for many things. (Small disclaimer: I used to be a register jockey for Texas Art, but my love for the store's prices comes from when I was an art student. I have no financial interest in the store :) ).

Anonymous said...

If the art store is local, independently owned, and in your hood, spending a few more $ close to home on an occasional purchase may be a wiser choice. We all want small businesses to thrive in our neighborhoods, right?

Anonymous said...

Creativity is a good thing, and sometimes it requires money!

Stephanie "Biffybeans" Smith said...

Faber Castel brush markers, eh? I love them too. I found a set on Ebay, then bought a bunch more singles from Dick Blick. (Blick sell individuals as open stock.)

A well written post. I love the part about having a savvy salesman handing you a basket for convenience & to encourage you to spend more time and money in their store.

PS - what kind of sketchbooks are you using that you bought 4 more? I prefer the Canson for drawing/doodling, and for watercolors, the Cachet watercolor books. They are marvelous.

Madame X said...

The sketchbooks are
Hand Book Artist Journals. It's tricky, because I do love my Moleskines, but the paper in these is nicer for drawing and I like the chunkiness of them. I think I'll be buying many more, even if it means I've now got 3 notebooks going simultaneously: a Moleskine sketchbook as a journal, a softcover Moleskine for jotting to-do's and french vocabulary and random notes, and a HandBook journal for artwork!

Stephanie "Biffybeans" Smith said...

Yup, I've got one of those - reviewed it here:

BUT I should update that review. I've come to hate that paper. The signatures are sewn in with only two cheesy stitches and are starting to fall apart. :o(

I HATE the Moleskine sketchbooks & their waxy surface. I just got rid of one. I do use the large ruled Moles for journaling & the occasional doodle. I use a fountain pen, so it's a constant battle to use the right pen/ink combination in the Mole without it bleeding. Mole paper isn't the best but I love the construction of the book. I don't have a desk at home and I often write with the book propped on my knee while sitting on an easy chair, or while out on the porch. They lie flat & that's a key selling feature for me.

For drawing (and very light watercolor washes) These are the canson books that I use:

And these are my beloved Cachet watercolor books

Stephanie "Biffybeans" Smith said...

Forgot to mention.... Aside from my various Moles going on at once, (Journal, Book of lists, various Cahiers for individual projects) I also have several Apica notebooks. They are from Japan and have silky smooth paper that accepts most every fountain pen ink imaginable. I have one going as an "ink test" book, and another as a "book of mantras." (Yes, I'm wierd.)

As far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as too many journals/sketchbooks going at once because it means that you are being creative!