Monday, January 06, 2014

December Deboxing: Art Snacks, Box 8

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Edit:  How the time flies, it's already January and I'm waiting for my January Art Snacks to arrive.  I've been in Louisiana for the past two weeks, and had trouble getting Blogger to save edits to this post, so I wanted to wait until I got home to complete it.  My apologies for its tardiness.

So here it is, December, the month that contains both Giftmas and Finals.  Since April, I've enjoyed the self-given gift of random art supplies in my mailbox monthly, and I've shared that adventure with you guys.  Originally I said I'd only do it for six months, but somehow that six months has mutated into something much larger.

In the past, it seemed like Art Snacks primarily focused on serving the needs of sketchers.  This could be because our supplies are fairly cheap, lightweight, and don't require much prior knowledge.  It could also be that most artists are sketchers at heart, and most enjoy new sketching toys to play with.  A new method of sketch can open the doors to inspiration, help an artist break out of a pernicious art block, or just renew flagging energies.  These past Art Boxes were easy reviews for me, as I knew what I was looking at, and cared about the contents.  But as with any subscription box service, Art Snacks does not promise to serve a very particular need, and I knew there'd be upcoming boxes that served the needs of other artists better.  December's box was such a box.  

December 2013 Art Snacks Deboxing: 

I had somewhat hoped that Art Snacks would do something seasonal for December as they did with October- maybe red or blue tissue paper.  The snack was indeed seasonal- a peppermint stick.

The Menu Card:

The Haul:

  • Zig Calligraphy Pen
  • Catalyst Contour
  • Winsor And Newton Artist Acrylic Paint
  • Letraset Flexmarker
  • General's Big Bear Pencil

The Review:

To be honest, this box didn't exactly set my heart pitter pattering.  The Princeton Contour Catalyst is neat if you enjoy painting, pottery, or cake icing, and the Winsor and Newton acrylic paint is a generous full size tube, not a tiny sample.  I'm not a painter (at least, of acrylics or oils) so neither of these really took my fancy.  I've tested Flexmarkers in the past, and overall I liked them, but I feel like including one alcohol based marker in a box isn't necessarily the best way to introduce consumers to new products.  In the past, I believe I've mentioned that I think if this is the route a company plans to pursue, they should either include three of such markers in one box (including a blending marker), or possibly include one marker per month for three months.  With one marker, you can't really test out how well it blends within it's brand.  I've never used a Zig calligraphy pen before (and I must admit, all of my shots are awful, these were done before leaving for Louisiana), and it may end up in my Lettering supplies, since the broad nib would work well for panel borders.  Zig offers two types of calligraphy pens in the US (to my knowledge) a twin tip and a single tip.  Zig is part of the Kuretake stationary company, and generally makes decent products.  This month's Snack included the single tip. The Big Bear pencil by General wasn't exactly thrilling either, as I'm moving away from traditional wood pencils and more toward mechanical pencils.  

This doesn't make this box a bad box, though.  These are my personal feelings about these products based very much on how I work as an artist, and what tools I've enjoyed using in the past.  I enjoy that Art Snacks doesn't try to cater specifically to the easiest artist type to please (the sketcher), and does include supplies that might inspire artists in new directions.

The Breakdown:

Zig Calligraphy Pen- $3.74, converted from Euros using good ol' Google, price from CultPens for individual pen, cheaper if bought in bulk (£26.65 for 12)
Catalyst Contour $3.75, price from DickBlick
Winsor And Newton Artist Acrylic Paint, 60 mL tube- $7.55, from Dick Blick (keep in mind that price varies wildly by color, since some colors use more expensive pigments.  Mine was Azo Yellow Medium.)
Letraset Flexmarker: 12+ pieces- $3.50 ech, 6+ pieces- $3.75ech, individually $4.16, prices from Dollar Days (sorry, finding these openstock has gotten difficult, it seems)
General's Big Bear Pencil- $3.96 on Quality Art

Grand Total:


The Verdict:

Price wise, I think Art Snacks have really stepped up their game in making sure the consumer gets what they're paying for in the past few months.  As to my opinion on the quality of these materials, those more familiar with them should take what I say with a grain of salt.  The Catalyst Contour is hard plastic, rather than pliable silicone, and I'm sure a painter could put it to good use, although I could see it being even MORE useful if it were available in a soft material.  I've never used Winsor and Newton's acrylic paints, but I know that their two pan watercolor lines Cotman and Winsor and Newton, vary greatly in quality while not varying much in price.   FlexMarkers aren't my favorite alcohol based marker available, but they're a fairly solid contender.  In general, I don't really use Zig products, but I do use a Kuretake Fude pen on a regular basis, so I know the parent company is solid.  General pencils have been around since forever, and will probably be around just as long, and are pretty commonly available anywhere from Wal-Mart to dedicated art supply stores.  I prefer to avoid sketching with graphite pencils as the lead smears, but I know I'm in the minority.

So is Art Snacks still worth it?    If you still enjoy getting random(ish) art supplies monthly, then yes. 

Past Art Snacks: