8 Gift Ideas For The Artist Close To Your Heart

Whether you’re looking for gifts for a professional artist or someone who values quality above all else, below are eight premium art supplies that offer superior performance.

As the old saying goes, tools don’t make the artist. There have been many people who’ve managed to create amazing art—both digital and traditional—through simple, inexpensive tools. In fact, it’s these kinds of materials that are ideal for practice sessions, as artists can use them in larger amounts. This makes them less intimidating for those who are just starting out or practicing. That said, while tools aren’t everything, they’re still important parts of the creative process. Premium or professional-grade supplies can make a world of a difference to those who’ve already spent some time dabbling in the visual arts. 

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Usually, these tools are made of more high-quality components and undergo meticulous processes that ensure they offer the best performance and feel when artists use them. From soft pastels to acrylic paints, museum-grade papers to watercolors, below are eight premium art supplies that are great gifts for the artist in your life:

Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Complete Travel Tin – 24 Half Pans 

Originating from the UK, Winsor & Newton has been making fine art supplies since 1832. With such a long legacy, it’s no surprise that the brand has one of the most expansive portfolios of premium art supplies out there. The company is dedicated to being a beacon of excellence in color and quality, as well as a purveyor of safe and sustainable products. 

The Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Complete Travel Tin with 24 half pans
The Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Complete Travel Tin with 24 half pans/Photo from the Winsor & Newton website

The brand’s watercolor products exemplify its commitment to quality, with a range of tubes and pans that cater to both hobbyists and professionals. Many artists turn to Winsor & Newton’s Professional line of watercolors for their  lightfastness and permanence, all thanks to their high-concentration of fine pigments. 

The watercolor travel tin in action
The watercolor travel tin in action/Photo from the Winsor & Newton website

The Professional Watercolor Complete Travel Tin with 24 half pans is the ideal gift for artists who engage in plein-air painting or are always on the go. It features a wide range of the brand’s go-to colors inside a travel tin with an integral palette in the lid, a hinged flap for mixing and tinting, a thumb ring in the base, and some space for a brush.

Copic Sketch 72 Colors Set 

Those who do a lot of illustration work or comics are probably familiar with Copic Sketch: a Japanese brand that specializes in alcohol-based markers in a wide range of colors that blend seamlessly with one another. They’re ideal for a smooth, streak-free coloring experience, and offer the softness of watercolor with the precision of a marker. They’re wonderful, luxe gifts for artists, especially when they come in sets.

A Copic Sketch 72 Colors Set
A Copic Sketch 72 Colors Set/Photo from the Copic Sketch website

Among the brand’s most comprehensive offerings is its 72 Colors Set. Artists can choose specific colors for the package or select from variations  A, B, C, D, and E, which all come with a curated assortment of colors for varying needs. 

Every Copic marker sports a double-ended design for many uses and techniques
Every Copic marker sports a double-ended design for many uses and techniques/Photo from the Copic Sketch website

Each marker features a double-ended design, with a Super Brush nib on one side and a Medium Broad nib on the other. This gives artists the flexibility to apply various techniques on different projects, from building layers of color to creating finer details. Markers are inside an acrylic box so artists can easily identify and organize them. They’re also refillable with Copic Ink, which keeps them sustainable and convenient. 

Sennelier Extra Soft Pastels in a Luxury Wooden Set 

Much like Winsor & Newton, Sennelier is another brand with a storied history in art supply manufacturing. The French company began in 1887, with founder Gustave Sennelier establishing it as a reputable source of fine artists’ paints. Since then, the company has expanded its offerings, and many artists know it as a go-to brand for vibrant and buttery soft pastels that glide on paper. 

Sennelier Extra Soft Pastels in a Luxury Wooden Set
Sennelier Extra Soft Pastels in a Luxury Wooden Set/Photo from the Sennelier website

Today, Sennelier innovates with advances in chemistry, all while retaining the best qualities of its art materials and honoring the traditions of old masters. The brand’s extra soft pastel sets exemplify this, offering sticks with rich, deep colors, all inside elegant boxes with a vintage feel. The Luxury Wooden Set, for example, mimics the look of classic wooden travel boxes that artists like Edgar Degas would use

Using Sennelier’s extra soft pastels
Using Sennelier’s extra soft pastels/Photo from the Sennelier YouTube channel 

These wooden boxes come in sets of 36, 50, 100, 175, 250, and 525 assorted colors. Regardless of the set, artists can expect Sennelier’s beautiful palette of colors, which have been the gold standard of quality for more than a century. 

Caran D’ache Wooden Box of 80 Colors LUMINANCE 6901™

Swiss brand Caran D’ache is the leading maker of premium colored pencils for all kinds of artists, including professionals. The LUMINANCE 6901™ sets, specifically, are for the more discerning artists who look for the best of the best in the medium.

All Caran D’ache pencils feature sturdy tips that don’t break easily, high-quality pigments, and lightfastness. However, it’s the LUMINANCE 6901™ varieties that are 100% light resistant, combining up to 100 years of lightfastness with a creamy application due to their wax core. This not only results in vibrant colors, but also extremely smooth blending. 

A palette of 100 LUMINANCE 6901™ colors
A palette of 100 LUMINANCE 6901™ colors/Photo from the Caran D’ache website

Like Sennelier, Caran D’ache offers its LUMINANCE 6901™ in an attractive and lavish wooden box of 80 colors. It’s a great item to have in the studio, or even on the go thanks to its compact design. Either way, these professional-grade pencils will surely be able to keep up with the demands of different artists, from architects to fashion designers. 

Old Holland’s Wooden Oil Colour Box (34 tubes, 40 mL) 

Old Holland is a household name among many oil paint users and restorers, as the brand has more than a century of experience in creating fine paint for artists. One can expect no less from an institution that old Dutch master painters established themselves in 1664, with paint formulas that guild members passed down from one generation to the next. 

Old Holland 15103 Wooden Oil Colour Box
Old Holland 15103 Wooden Oil Colour Box/Photo from the Artemiranda website

To this day, Old Holland continues this legacy of making great oil paints for artists, still using these classic formulas in the current iterations of their products. However, they’ve never stopped innovating, combining traditional methods with more modern ingredients to provide even richer and more lightfast paints.

As with any paint brand, artists can purchase Old Holland’s paints individually through tubes, though the brand also offers convenient sets in lovely packaging. These include their 15103 Wooden Oil Colour Box, which comes with a wooden palette, two bottles of medium, three brushes, two palette cups, charcoal, and three palette knives. The box offers 34 tubes of 40 mL paint, with all the colors needed to create one’s next masterpiece. 

Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic Set (24 tubes, 22 mL)

Liquitex is one of the leading brands in the realm of acrylic paints, and for good reason. The brand’s formulations result in paint that’s not too sticky or slippery, providing just the right consistency for a range of creative applications. Its heavy body acrylics are thick, with a high viscosity and pigment-rich professional colors. 

Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic Set (24 tubes, 22 mL)
Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic Set (24 tubes, 22 mL)/Photo from the Liquitex website

With lightfast pigments and a satin finish, these paints provide deep, permanent color, whether an artist is using a palette knife for eye-catching impasto techniques or brushes for finer details. 

Liquitex offers their heavy body acrylics in different sets depending on the needs of an artist. Besides a set offering their well-loved classic colors, the brand also has a collection of 24 essential paints in 22 mL tubes for a wider palette. 

Arches® Papers

What’s an artwork without quality paper, especially for mediums that work best with the material. Enter Arches, a French brand that’s been making papers for fine art since 1492. The papermill’s products are acid-free and made of 100% natural fibers like cotton. 

This makes them far sturdier than other papers made of wood fibers (due to the length of the cotton). As such, works on any Arches paper last for decades, which is why so many artists and conservators prefer the brand.  

Arches makes a vast array of papers for every medium, including watercolor, gouache, acrylic, oil paint, pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, graphite, lithography, linocut, screen-printing, and gold foiling, just to name a few. 

Legion “Stonehenge” Papers

Legion is yet another papermaker that specializes in high-quality papers for fine art. Their “Stonehenge” line of papers, in particular, stand in the same league as more expensive European mold-made papers. Many professional artists praise Stonehenge papers for their versatility, as the line offers them in many varieties for a wide range of mediums. 

Legion Stonehenge Paper Pad in Warm White
Legion Stonehenge Paper Pad in Warm White/Photo from the Legion Papers website

It’s the paper of choice for the Colored Pencil Society of America due to how well it holds wax and oil-based pencil marks. Yet it’s also a great option for other techniques like silkscreen, watercolor, pastel, charcoal, intaglio, relief printing, and hand lithography. 

Stonehenge papers in an assortment of colors/Photos from the Legion Papers website

Artists can get these papers in the form of pads, journals, mini pads, rolls, and sheets, making them an even more flexible option for every creative. 

Banner photo by Jennie Razumnaya via Unsplash.

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