This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY and Art Fag City. Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
With Christmas fast approaching I felt it would be good to spur a discussion about gift ideas for artists. Finding gifts for an artist can be very intimidating for some people. Needless to say, finding Christmas gifts for artists ups the ante of pressure. After all, there are so many brands of art materials on the market -- and artists tend to know what they like. True, it is the thought that counts -- but buying expensive paint, for example, that will never be used is a waste on both ends of the exchange. How do you know if the artist in your life will love his or her art-related Christmas gift from you? Simple. Ask the artist in advance -- find out what he or she needs.
I know, I know, I know -- part of the magic of Christmas gift-giving involves surprising those who receive your gifts. That said, finding an art-related gift for an artist places one in a unique situation because the artist is likely set in his or her ways as far as materials are concerned. Once someone decides on the 'tools of their trade' little else will do. For example, if the artist in your life uses a specific brand of brush you can almost bet money that he or she will not stray from that specific brand. Thus, he or she may appreciate a different brand of brush as a gift -- but that does not mean that he or she will actually use it within the context of his or her 'creative arsenal'. You want to get something the artist will use -- and in this situation that may mean asking what to get beforehand.
Buying art-related gifts for an artist can be a complex experience if you are going about it without sufficient information. Even if you know what brands the artist uses the gift-finding process can be difficult. Point blank -- basic brand info is not enough to go by when deciding on an art-related gift for the artist in your life. For example, just because you know that he or she likes Winsor & Newton oil paint does not mean that you know which grade he or she prefers -- or what specific colors he or she needs to restock. Again, I'd suggest that asking outright is the best path to take when deciding on art-related Christmas gifts for artists.
Obviously there are scenarios that dictate that you are unable to ask the artist. I recently found myself in a situation like that. Each year I select a child interested in 'art supplies' from a Salvation Army tree -- this year was different because the child is 16 years old. The situation was different because I assume that a 16 year old artist may already have a specific brand in mind compared to a younger child who desires art supplies. That experience made me think about the topic of gifts for artists further -- which spurred me to write this article.
I honestly was not sure what to get this child -- this young artist -- because I only had 'art supplies' to go off of. I eventually decided to get some basics -- drawing pads, a journal and other items that any artist may find useful. I also included a gift card so that the young artist would be able to pick a few things out that are more specific to her tastes. It would have been nice if the list had been more detailed than just 'art supplies' -- but for whatever reason those Salvation Army cards rarely list specific art-related gifts. Needless to say, the lack of details in this situation has me concerned that perhaps the young artist will be disappointed on Christmas morning. True, I'm sure she will appreciate the gifts -- but will they be something that she can actually use? That is what has me concerned -- and thinking about artist gifts in general.
Clearly I did all that I could do in that specific situation considering how vague the information was. After all, 'art supplies' is as vague as you can get when it comes to art-related gifts. "Is she a painter?", "Perhaps she is interested in sculpture?", "Maybe she just likes drawing anime inspired cartoon characters?" -- these questions and more bounced around in my head while deciding what to get. The experience reminded me how difficult it can be to find the right art-related gifts for artists in general -- and I'll admit that I was a tad intimidated by it. Me... an art writer who has critically lashed out at some of the biggest names in the art world -- intimidated by the process of buying art-related gifts for a 16 year old artist. (Keep note of this -- you will rarely see this soft-side of Mr. Sherwin.)
In closing, what are your thoughts concerning Christmas gifts for artists -- or gifts for artists in general? Do you have any suggestions? Do you agree that -- if possible -- it is best to simply ask the artist outright what he or she would desire gift-wise if the gift is art-related? Do you feel that the element of surprise should stay intact? For example, should you take a chance on giving an art related gift that the artist may appreciate... but not find useful in the studio? Have you ever been intimidated by the process when buying a gift for an artist? Share your thoughts and suggestions.
Take care, Stay true,