The Best Gifts for Aspiring Artists, According to a Professional NYC Artist
You won't find any coloring books here.
There's a good chance you're here because you're either shopping for an artist, or you're an artist yourself and you want to peruse (dare we say vet?) our expert-curated gift guide below. The good news is that we think you're going to like what you see.
Because artists can be notoriously picky about the tools they use in their craft, we reached out to Jack Henry, a sculpture and installation artist who's been working professionally in NYC for over 10 years. Henry has exhibited his work throughout the U.S. and abroad and has received fellowships from the Banff Centre, the Arte Fits Foundation, and the NG artist residency in Provence, France (check out more of his work here).
Henry knows a good product when he spots one, so we asked him to handpick 15 great gift ideas that are perfect for the artist (or artists) in your life.
Price: $14.99 - $91.99
Why it's a great gift: "Do you want to cast a plaster replica of your hand...or just about anything else? This kit has everything you need to do that. Good for a one-time hobby or some serious sculpture."
Why it's a great gift: "Linoleum prints are great. It’s basically like making a stamp. They’re easy to carve out and then you can print the image as many times you want on paper, shirts, or wherever you have laying around. And for a gift, a kit is the way to go. Speedball makes one of the best."
Why it's a great gift: "Dremels are versatile tools for shaping, sculpting, carving, engraving, and more. Any artist or jewelry maker that doesn’t have one yet would be thrilled to receive one. I use mine all the time."
Price: $7.41 - $138.66
Why it's a great gift: "Not sure what to get the artist in your life? You can’t go wrong with paint. You go through it quickly and costs add up. Golden is the best quality brand of acrylic. Gamblin is a solid choice for oil paint, but if you’re not sure which one they use, go with the acrylic."
Why it's a great gift: "Airbrush some shirts! Or other stuff! Kits range in price, with the main factor being the air compressor. Warning: they are kind of a pain to clean."
Price: $5.85 - $421.20
Why it's a great gift: "Copic markers are the best markers. They'll give you rich and vibrant colors with a paintbrush-like tip."
Why it's a great gift: "I received Palomino Blackwing pencils as a gift once. And I loved them. There is a subtle style to them (and a handy adjustable eraser). The pencils were also used by John Steinbeck and Looney Tunes creator Chuck Jones, amongst others."
Price: $94.99 - $99.99
Why it's a great gift: "Plein air easels probably make it on a lot of lists because they bring to mind the romantic vision of an artist painting outdoors. But they’re also great for artists who don’t have a lot of room to work with in their apartment."
Why it's a great gift: "Give carving a try by carving a spoon. It's more fun than you’d think and then you have a unique (and functional) spoon you can use."
Why it's a great gift: "If your loved one watched the Shawshank Redemption and said, 'I should try carving my own chess set', get them this stone carving kit."
Price: $17.99 for a mini, $29.99 for a large
Why it's a great gift: "I received one of these as a gift. You paint on it with water and it slowly fades away. It's a great non-committal way to get some ideas going—kind of like an Etch A Sketch but with a paint brush. A good gift for a bashful artist."
Why it's a great gift: "These Japanese calligraphy kits are fun to use and come in nice looking little boxes. Along with my pens, I store my weed in one I got for Christmas in '98. That's quality."
Why it's a great gift: "Sculpey is great. Make whatever you want and pop it in your oven to make it permanent. It's versatile and fun."
Why it's a great gift: "Step up your game (or their game) with a 3D printer. Know someone who is both an artistic and techie? Grab them this and they’ll love you forever."
Why it's a great gift: "Or while you’re at it, get a CNC router. Enter an image file into the computer and this thing will carve it perfectly out of wood. I put it on this list for me, in case anyone I know is still reading. It would definitely upgrade any studio. They range in size and price, so be sure you know the studio size/space of the artist you're picking this up for."