Art Supplies Online?
August 23, 2011 9:23 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend decent places to buy art supplies online?

I'm a college student going into an Intro to Drawing class and although we don't have a textbook for the class, we are required to pick up some supplies to get started. However, I lack the transportation to get out to the local art supply stores easily and I'm trying to purchase as much of my list as possible online. Can anyone recommend any good places?

I've been looking for items such as sketch pads, charcoal penicils, x-acto knives, and other things that aren't really present in an average office supply or department store.

Note: I've been using Amazon, but the shipping rates on a per-item basis have been pretty exorbitant to say the least. I'd also welcome any tips on how to maximize my Amazon-fu to bring things back down into a college-sized budget. Thanks in advance!
posted by zazzles to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I've bought stuff from Dick Blick before, but they won't necessarily have better prices or cheaper shipping (the selection will probably be an improvement).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:26 PM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've bought the items you list from in the past.
posted by disaster77 at 9:30 PM on August 23, 2011

Fine arts major here, seconding Dick Blick and I've also had good experiences with utrecht.
posted by QueenHawkeye at 9:32 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thirding Blick. And if you're a student, why haven't you signed up for Amazon Prime? Ir's free with a .edu email address!
posted by mumblingmynah at 9:37 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the suggestions - I'm currently building some lists on these sites to compare the total price.

I've heard a bit about Prime, and a from quick search through some old questions from this site, I'm currently signing up as we speak. Will I have to specifically choose items that are eligible for Prime to get free shipping, though? What does one do when an item on Amazon has no Prime options..?
posted by zazzles at 9:41 PM on August 23, 2011

Not the best alternative, but if you live in Canada, there's also Curry's:
posted by raintree at 9:42 PM on August 23, 2011

I've never ordered from them online, but the bricks and mortar store is wonderful - Texas Art Supply.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:53 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

And if you're a student, why haven't you signed up for Amazon Prime? Ir's free with a .edu email address!

Unless an item is fulfilled by Amazon itself through its warehouse system, it is not eligible for Prime and may incur separate and substantial shipping costs.
posted by Nomyte at 9:59 PM on August 23, 2011

you may want to make an effort to figure out how to get to your local art supply store(s). better to figure it out now than the day before an assignment is due and you really need that pack of x-acto blades.

but for anything you'd need for an intro course, any of the online sellers will work. they all have different shipping offers and deals that you can probably work to your advantage. many of the basics are probably available for amazon prime shipping, too, especially when they have a broader appeal. so x-acto blades will be available for prime, but individual colors of gouache, not so much.

(disclaimer: i own an art supply store.)
posted by jimw at 10:41 PM on August 23, 2011

Just bought my entire list from Blick for almost 40 dollars less than Utrecht, the other fairly cheap site I was using. Most of my items weren't available on Prime, and the ones that were happened to still be more expensive than just bundling it in with my shipment from Blick.

Thank you all for your suggestions! I appreciate it greatly.
posted by zazzles at 11:03 PM on August 23, 2011

I should also note that of all the sites I tried, Ultrecht had the best web presence - very clearly laid out and a great search and comparison engine. Finding things on Blick did take a little longer, but I was generally able to find cheaper price - in most cases, the prices straight-out beat any others I could find, and in addition to that I was actually able to find some cheaper alternative and purchase certain items individually as opposed to in packs.
posted by zazzles at 11:07 PM on August 23, 2011

I'm late, but zazzles, your findings exactly correlate to my past ten years of buying art supplies online. Blick all the way, but they need to poach the Utrecht's web people.
posted by Mizu at 11:39 PM on August 23, 2011

I've used all of the sites mentioned when I need something specific and for a deadline, and I'd add to the list. The best deals I've gotten, though, are off of ebay and craigslist from people selling off supplies in lots. It's best to search for "auction only" and "used" to sift through the dealers that post on ebay with similar prices to Dick Blick or cheapjoes. I've gotten collections of used but fine oil brushes that would have wrung up into the thousand dollar range for a tenth of the cost on ebay. On craigslist I've gotten a ton of materials, a lot of them for free.
posted by mrsjohnson at 8:32 AM on August 24, 2011

Dick Blick is fantastic, but just be careful ordering a ton of open stock colored pencils from them (or anyone else, for that matter). I had a whole order of open stock Prismacolors from Dick Blick turn out to have substantial internal lead breakage (whether from shipping or storage I will never know, though they were packed really well). If you order nice colored pencils, sharpen them immediately so that you can still return them in time if the leads turn out to be broken! Don't wait a month to sharpen them like I did (and I'm sure I didn't break them, they just sat in a drawer the whole time). The same principle applies to brick and mortar places too, though, since the open stock gets a lot of handling.
posted by dialetheia at 10:08 AM on August 24, 2011

I've only purchased in one of their physical stores, but Artist and Craftsman Supply has some good prices (way better than Utrecht on a lot of things.)
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:39 AM on August 25, 2011

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