Thursday, August 01, 2013

July Deboxing: Art Snacks, Box 4

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This is my first Art Snacks box at my new apartment, so I thought I'd take a moment to praise Art Snacks on how easy it was to change my shipping address so I could still receive my subscription boxes.  Because Art Snacks is a month to month purchase, rather than purchased for a set number of months, I could cancel at any time.  This makes changing my address pretty simple, and ensured that there was no gap in my subscription as I feared there might have been.

I've been writing about my Art Snacks subscription boxes for three months now.  If you're interested in seeing my previous Art Snacks unboxing posts, starting in April of this year, you can click the labelled links below.

April
May
June

A Basic Breakdown of Art Snacks Subscription Service


For those yet not familiar with Art Snacks, they're a subscription art supply service much like Umba Box.  Participants don't know what will be included in their monthly box, and get no selection.  As of yet, Art Box has not offered participants an opportunity to specify what sort of supplies they would prefer, nor what sort of art they focus on creating, so the service is more of  one size fits all novelty.  Generally supplies suit draftspeople, illustrators, general artists, and comic artists will, but occasionally more specific supplies are included in the box.  Each box costs about $20, but I would estimate on average the total value of the supplies in individual boxes is around $15, with this estimate based upon my own art supply purchasing and sourcing.  Included in every Art Snacks box is a piece of candy (a 'snack'), a vinyl sticker, and a 'menu' that explains the included art supplies.  Factoring in shipping, I would say that if you enjoy random art supplies for novelty, or are looking to expand your collection in a general way, Art Snacks is a fun service.

So, on to July's snacks!


 As in previous months, the Art Snacks box is pretty compact, printed with the Art Snacks Pretzel logo.  It's a good size for the included materials, but may be limiting the scope of future Art Snacks.





Sorry for the blurry photos, this month's 'snacks' include:
  • A Palomino Blackwing Pearl pencil
  • A Mono sand eraser
  • A Finecolour Sketch Marker
  • Two Sargent Art Square Chalk Pencils


Oh!  And a Sour Punch Straw (I love sour candy, it beats that gross super hard Double Bubble gum I got last time)

So here's everything all together.


Blackwing pencils have gotten a lot of press in the past five years.  I don't really use traditional pencils (I mainly use colored pencils or pens for doodling, and mechanical pencils for sketching and pencilling, making me a hack in the eyes of more skilled cartoonists), so I can't say that this pencil is worth all the hype and praise it's received.

My Art Snacks box included a Blackwing Pearl, which is their mid-hardness pencil, softer than the 602 and harder than the original Blackwing.  The Blackwing pencils are interesting in that the eraser can be removed, extended, or replaced with an entirely different eraser, making it an excellent choice for an artist's pencil.


I was impressed to see the inclusion of a Finecolour marker, having reviewed them not too long ago.  Finecolour alcohol based markers seem to be a fairly recent addition to the American art and crafting marker scene, and are a big difficult to find in small lots.  I've seen them sold on eBay and Aliexpress.  Finecolour markers are made in China, and are meant to look like the popular Copic markers, although they don't include a flexible brush nib, are non-refillable, and don't have the option for replaceable nibs.  I've never seen Finecolour markers sold in brick and mortar stores, which makes their inclusion with Art Snacks a bit problematic.  I feel like including just one marker makes sampling the brand difficult- one lacks the ability to blend and render with just one marker, and the fact that Finecolour markers aren't commonly available makes it difficult to order more markers to play with.  I recommend at least three markers in similar hues, but that would mean an Art Snack with markers in it would be composed nearly primarily of markers.  When I purchased my Finecolour markers, they seemed to be about $2.00 each.


Next up is the Mono Sand Eraser.  Sand Erasers are typically used to erase ink, using the abrasiveness of the sand to scratch away the ink buildup.  The Art Snacks card claims that it can also eraser marker, which is something I'm going to have to test.  I imagine that once you've used a sand eraser on the paper, the abrasion may affect reinking or markering.

Last of all is the Sargent art pastel.  To be honest, I'm a terrible artist- I really hate having dirty hands.  Most of my media leave my hands fairly clean, and I stopped using pastels of any sort in eighth grade.  Sargent art supplies are considered 'scholastic grade' art supplies, which are the lowest grade available (next being 'student', and then 'professional'), and is a brand sold at office supplie stores like Office Max and Staples, as well as craft and hobby stores like Michael's.  (Source)

Conclusion

So what're my thoughts on this month's snackage?  Well, 19 Blackwing Pearls retail on Amazon for about $12 total, making the individual pencils about $.64 cents each.  Finecolour markers get cheaper when purchased in bulk, but I'll estimate that it costs about $2 individually.  Tombow Sand Erasers are $2.00 each on Jetpens.  Sargent Art pastels, when purchased in the smallest amount possible (a set of 12, for  $5.15) is about .43 cents per pastel, and when purchased in the largest amount (144 for 37.99) is .23 cents a pastel (prices from Dick Blick), making the total value of this month's blind box art supplies $5.50.

Five dollars and fifty cents.


Five dollars and fifty cents.


Each month of Art Snacks is $20, shipped to me.  Wrapped in cute green tissue paper (the same shade of green tissue I use for my Nattosoup packaging), with a cute little candy, a 'menu' printed on really nice stock, a vinyl sticker, AND a sticker to close the adorable little green tissue paper bundle.  This month, I received four supplies, all of which I'm familiar with, which cost a total of five dollars and fifty cents, discluding the shipping to get the items to Art Snacks distributors.


I have to admit, I'm a bit disappointed.

I realize that I make it a point to be familiar with a variety of art supplies, with a strong focus on supplies used in comic craft and illustration.  It's hard to surprise me, I know.  I'm sure for most other artists and aspiring artists, the Finecolour marker would be a new toy to play with.  And I'm sure a quite a few artists were happy to see the Cadillac of wooden pencils included in this month's box.  And maybe a few artists have never toyed around with a sand eraser.

I believe I complained in April's Art Snacks review about the inclusion of Reeves brand paint, as Reeves is commonly available at most hobby and craft stores, and is considered scholastic grade, just like this month's Sargent pastels.  This is the first time I've actually crunched the numbers on the blog, although I'd quietly contemplated the value of Art Snacks in both April and May, and while the totals were of course beneath $20, I don't remember them being as low as this.

I feel like Art Snacks has done a decent job expanding away from commonly available supplies, so I'd like to see more of a focus on uncommon products.

So what do I suggest?

  • Including more than 4 supplies per month
  • Higher quality supplies
  • Perhaps the introduction of themed boxes, which could revolve around color and use
  • More expensive items

Do I recommend subscribing to Art Snacks


As of right now, if you are a professional artist who does not review art supplies, I do not recommend an Art Snacks subscription.  You will not get your money's worth, and you will rarely receive enough of a supply to make it useful (the exception was the mechanical pencil included last month, which had spare lead and spare erasers, which I found very impressive, and had hoped would be a continuing trend).

If you are a hobbyist looking to expand your collection, enjoy blind boxes, and don't mind sample sizes, Art Snacks may hold some potential for you, although I cannot say it's worth your $20 at this time.  If you enjoy novelty, you may enjoy Art Snacks.

I'm going to continue subscribing to Art Snacks for two more months, in order to give it a fair shot at improvement and growth.  I will continue to review this service with as little bias as possible.

Step it up, Art Snacks.  I have faith in you.