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How to stop buying art supplies

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

I'll admit it, I'm a stationery addict/hoarder/collector. Whatever you want to call me, I frankly have way too many calligraphy supplies (I'm talking hundreds of pens).

However, in the last year or two I have become more decisive about how I buy supplies and which supplies I add to my collection. I'd like to share the wisdom I've gained and provide you with simple ways to stop buying additional calligraphy supplies. Although I'm coming at this from a calligrapher's POV, these tips will help you stop supplying art supplies in general.

Tip one - buy individually first

If you're interested in a brand of pen, I'd highly recommend buying a single pen to see how often you actually end up reaching for this specific pen. This has helped me to make decisions about whether I want to get a pack.

However, don't use this pen once or twice and buy the pack. Give it at least a month and if you're still regularly using it then upgrade to the pack. This also helps you to determine the quality of the pen, if it's fraying within a month, do you really want to invest more money in them?

A personal example is that last year I tested out a single metallic pan even though it cost a few more pounds to see if I actually liked and used it before buying more. Now it's one of my favourite supplies and I put additional colours on my birthday wishlist which brings me onto tip number two...

Tip two - gifts only

I still love stationery and there are still supplies that I'd like to try out. Now though, rather than buy them for myself, I put them on my gift list. This takes away some of the compulsivity of buying supplies as you know there's a chance of them being bought for birthdays/Christmas or other special occasions.

This also helps out friends and family as they know what I'd like and avoid risk of duplication if they buy me stationery supplies.

Tip three - don't be swayed by popularity of a product

You may see a product popping up in the community regularly because of a trend (think glass pens), because the majority of the community loves them (think Tombow) or because sponsorships are being seriously pushed by certain brands (think Cricut/Skillshare).

All of these factors can sway you towards buying particular products. I was very close to buying a Cricut machine worth HUNDREDS of pounds just because I seen it everywhere and started to feel as though it was a must have for those wanting to start a calligraphy business. I sat on the decision, realised I should sit on it a bit longer and then came to the conclusion that it wasn't right for me.

Now, not every supply is going to cost hundreds of pounds, but when a pack of 10 pens costs £20, buying supplies can quickly add up. I definitely recommend sitting on the decision, even for a day.

Tip four - improvise the colour

One of the biggest reasons that I'm swayed into buying new brush pens are unique colours. Now that I've started watercolour calligraphy, I'm now able to customise colours as I mix the colour myself.

I also ask myself if one shade of a colour is actually different enough to a shade I already own to justify it. A lot of the time, although I like the shade, it's not drastically different enough for me to buy it.

Tip five - make them visible

What's the point in buying all of these supplies if you forget that you have them? I have been completely guilty of this too and that's when I realised I had a bit of a problem!

To make them visible, make sure that all of your supplies are in a space that you can easily access. I personally have a stationery shelf and then have all of my favourite go-to pens in a pencil case that is in my top office drawer. You may also want to have some pencil pots on your desk. If you find that you've got so many pens in there that it's difficult to get to the pens you actually want to use on a regular basis, declutter it. You should then also ask yourself whether you ever actually use these supplies or if you should get rid of them.

12 pentel brush pens in rainbow shades plus some neutral shades such as browns, grey and black.
Pentel brush pens are my personal go-to brush pen

Tip six - what percentage of the pack would you use?

There have been times where I'm drawn to a few specific colours in a pack, there's a few I'm indifferent about/that are nothing new and then there's maybe 1-3 colours that I just wouldn't really use. If there's only a few colours you actually want, consider buying them individually, even if it's more per pen as it will save you in cost overall.

Tip seven - donate supplies you don't use

This isn't so that you can buy more supplies but if you occasionally go through and donate supplies that you don't use, you not only get an appreciation of what supplies you actually value but your supplies will go to better use by someone that actually values them and will use them.

I have younger family members who are in full time education that always appreciate additional supplies for studying but you could also donate to charity shops or schools.

Tip eight - experience

Experience using different supplies will help you to determine which supplies you like / dislike, use regularly / rarely and will build the foundation of which supplies you should invest in and which you should omit from your collection.

To sum up...

There are several ways to reduce the number of art supplies that you buy, from buying a single pen and trying it out first to simply gaining experience. You can apply one or all of these tips and they'll help you to reduce the number of art supplies that you purchase. The main thing is to enjoy what you have currently!

Enjoyed this? Read my brush pens for beginners post which gives an overview of 3 brush pen brands for beginners.


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Thank you for the useful information 👍

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