I've mentioned many times on this blog that I grew up in a small town 40 minutes or so outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. When Luling got a Walmart, I was 14, and it meant that for many, the monthly trek to town just to buy groceries and household necessities was now greatly shortened. At that time, I was already very much interested in drawing and in comics, and had received some art supplies as presents in the past, but for the most part, Walmart was the source of most of my highschool comic supplies.
At the time, buying art supplies online was something I couldn't imagine. This was before Amazon sold anything other than books, before DickBlick and Jerry's really had websites, before Jetpens ever opened its virtual doors, and while there were dedicated art supply stores in New Orleans, they were far away, expensive, and I had no experience with the materials they sold. Buying supplies from Walmart, mostly pencils, erasers, and sketchbooks, was feasible for me, and while my options weren't vast, I had more options than I would have had we not had a Walmart.
This isn't a defense or advertisement for Walmart by any means. This is admittance that for many of my readers, many of the kids I talk to at cons, ordering supplies online isn't a reality for them at this time. Therefore, I feel like it's my duty to revisit my roots, and review some of the art supplies Walmart has to offer.
A caveat: Your Walmart will differ from mine in what it carries. You may have a Walmart with a much larger selection of art and craft supplies than my Walmart carries, or it may have a much smaller section. For this post, I scoured the back-to-school section, the kids' art supply section, and the crafts section for supplies I hope will pass muster. There are a couple exceptions: I purchased Crayola watercolors and Crayola markers.
I feel like those reviews will be the most interesting, because they'll support one of two theories: A good artist can make good use of any materials provided OR Bad materials fight the artist, and make it more difficult to produce work. Of course, I could just be a terrible artist who's work has been gilded by years of using great supplies, but somehow I think that after years of testing art supplies, I'll probably struggle to compensate for the Crayolas' weaknesses, but hopefully figure out a few strategies to make the best of these products. I hope to share those here, and maybe inspire a new generation of young small town artists to keep pushing, despite limited access to materials.
What I Went In Looking For:
- Inking Pens
What I Saw
Rows of cardboard school supply display
The same ol same ol Crayolas in the kid's art supply section
A row of rollerball pens and mechanical pencils in the office supply section
And a little taste of actual art supplies in the crafts section
And hidden in the office supplies, a desk organizer to wrangle your supplies, should a pencil case not suffice
This would be fine for storing your brushes upright, and has trays to hold erasers and spare pencil leads, as well as tapes, thumbtacks, or paperclips.
What I Purchased:
- Crayola Watercolors
- Crayola Markers
- Marker Paper
- Small Sketchbook
- Mechanical Pencils
- Pentel White Vinyl Erasers
- Generic Neon Eraser
- Daler Rowney Watercolors
- Daler Rowney Watercolor Brushes
- Pencil Case
- Triplus Fineliners
- Flair Fineliners
This isn't even the final shot of everything, because I went back to Walmart to better flesh out the 'inking' category.
What I Skipped:
- Canson's XL Paper (I have this at home, I use it for Gizmo Granny pages, it's a perfectly fine watercolor paper that does require stretching beforehand for best results)
- Watercolor palettes (I actually purchased two sets from this Walmart earlier in the week for mini watercolors. Pretty much all palettes of this type are the same, they all work fine, it doesn't matter where you buy them, so buy the cheapest you can. A 10 well round palette, which is my go to palette, was $0.97 each or a set of three different palettes was $3.47)
- Crayons (I've never been proficient with them)
- Color Pencils (same as above)
- Cardstock (I use cardstock for commissions, it works fine as a marker paper as well as a lighter weight substitute for Bristol. This is fine for beginners)
What I Spent:
So I also bought a couple books, a small bag of Kit-Kats, and a cat collar, which are things you probably wont be purchasing. Without these, my total would have been:
Pencil Pouch- $3.97
Pencil Sharpener- $0.47
10 Piece Brushset- $4.47
Watercolors (Crayola)- $1.97
50 count super tip Crayola Markers- $6.96
"Art Craft" (Marker paper?)- $3.94
Triplus Fineliners 6 Pack- $5.97
Neon Eraser- $0.26
Daler Rowney 12 Piece watercolor set- $7.97
2 pack Pilot Precise V5-$3.64
10 piece mini paint set- $1.00
Papermate Flair Ultra Fine point 8 pack- $8.64
Mechanical pencils 2 pack with refills and erasers-$3.97
Keep in mind that some of these are redundant- I purchased three different watercolor sets, three types of fine liners, two brands of erasers, and I neglected to buy watercolor paper or cardstock, because I already have both, so your cost may vary. I also didn't factor in tax, which is about 10% in Louisiana, so I really paid about $53 for all of this.
How this is going to work
I'm going to review each supply on its own, the way I normally review art supplies. I'm not going to cut any slack when it comes to quality, though I will keep in mind availability, since that's the point of this series. I'll probably link related reviews (both on this blog and on others) to help you guys with your decisions.
Once the Walmart Art Supply review is finished, I'll start my Dollar Tree and Target reviews, as well as a Walgreens mini review, so if you're interested in cheap art supplies, keep watching this blog.
Crayola Washable Watercolors
Daler Rowney Simply Watercolor
Washable Markers- Crayola VS. CraZArt
Pentel Hi Polymer Eraser and Neon Eraser
Papermate Flair Ultrafine
Casemate 2-in-1 Sharpener
Studio C Glitter Pencil Case
Pacon Art1st Marker Pad
Staedtler Triplus Fineliners
Disclaimer: As with many of my review posts, I purchased these supplies out of my own pocket. If you enjoy these types of reviews, or benefit from my experience, please consider donating to my Paypal, or purchasing something from my online shop. One of the BEST ways you can show support for this blog is to purchase a copy of 7" Kara Volume 1, and if you buy it from the shop, you'll receive a sketch and one of the two Kara wooden charms shown in the Ponoko post.