6 Tips for a Low Cost Art Studio & Saving on Supplies

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One might say it costs a lot of money to be an artist or painter – buying paint, materials, brushes, equipment, and the list goes on.  Yes, while it does cost money, it doesn’t have to always cost an arm and a leg.  After a recent at-home interview with Fine Art America artist (and actress) Lindsay Frost, she explained how she transformed a small space in her house into her art studio.  Lindsay used a combination of yard sales, perusing through alleys in her neighborhood, and special art store sales to gather items to make this art space her own.


Drawers from a yard sale for $5.


$20 Eisel purchased on sale at an art store.


Various-sized wood canisters to hold brushes.

So we wanted to share some tips for saving on supplies needed to create an creative environment as well as getting the best deals on supplies.

1. Garage sales: I stumbled upon an awesome article from The Macs on “up-cycling” garage sales finds.  The file cabinet ($20) shown below is perfect for storing paint tubes and the red tool box ($3) can be your paint brushes new home.



2.  Art supply stores:  Many art supply stores have sales, so keeping up on those sale announcements is a must!  They often set huge discounts on gently used or defective products/equipment – to be sold “as is”.

3.  Student discounts: Are you a student?  Do you know a student?  If so, many art stores accept a quick flash of your student ID card for a percentage off (usually around 10%).  Nearly 5 years out of college and I still use my student ID card to get discounts!

4.   Build your own equipment: Perhaps you are the crafty, do-it-yourself type.  If so, click here to follow a few easy steps from Lazy Liz on Less, for building your very own easel.

5. Modern day dumpster diving: Have you seen things like old couches, tables, shelves, etc. laying in alley-ways?  Assuming this is someone’s trash, this can now be your new treasure.  OK, so we can probably pass on the couch, but things like old tables, shelving units, etc. are perfect for an art studio.  Try to find pieces that are wood – they are the perfect “blank canvas” for refinishing.  All you need is sandpaper and a fresh can of paint:

–  If you have an orbital sander, definitely use that!  It will save a lot of time.   If you are sanding by hand, always rub the sandpaper with the grain of the wood for the smoothest results. 120-grit sandpaper works best!

–  It’s going to get dusty so be sure to wipe away all of the dust with a try towel before you start painting.

–   So here’s the fun part – When you are ready to paint,  you might consider making this its own art piece.  Instead of just a single paint color or stain, you can make it multicolored or add decorative designs – it’s up to you!

–  When you are done, let everything dry overnight.

– I would also recommend applying a paint sealer to prevent chipping and to lock in the color.


6. Unconventional Materials: Who says you have to only paint on canvas and paper?

– Painting on unconventional materials like wood and scrap metal is an easy and inexpensive alternative.  Many lumber yards have scrap pieces of wood in all shapes and sizes that only cost a few bucks.

– The Container Store sells a 12-pair shoe rack that could be a great place for storing paints, brushes, etc.  This items comes in white, so it is also something that can be painted to meet your aesthetic needs and happens to be very easy to assemble (I have two of these at home).


Click the image for details

So hopefully these tips can help you to create the best creative work environment without breaking the bank! Feel free to add your tips too – we’d love to hear from you! And keep painting!

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  1. Where can I find the cylinder shaped, wood cannisters like pictured??

    Nettie Kennedy

  2. Great ideas. I always try to purchase art supplies when they are on sale,
    and I do keep my art supplies in plastic units like the ones pictured.

    1. The article was very informative. I am always trying to streamline my studio space efficiently.

  3. I like this article. Being an artist myself, I am learning thru trial and error how to save money and yet have a proficient studio space.

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