Art Supply Review: Creativo Artist's Messenger Bag

I wanted a bag that was large enough to stuff a full size 11x17 portfolio or two into, but could still count as a carryon.  As a teenager, I'd lingered over the Creative Mark bags in my Jerry's catelogues, but couldn't afford to put down the money to buy one.  As an adult, I returned to these bags to see if one could stand up to the rigors of travelling with me across the country for shows.

My local Jerry's in Antioch, TN, doesn't carry these bags, so I took advantage of a site sale, and ordered mine.  I ordered a small (14"x18"x3") black and gray Creativo messenger bag.  Right now, you can get the same bag for $20 plus shipping, which is quite reasonable.   It came only a few days later, just in time to help me haul cargo from Nashville, TN, to New Orleans, La for Mechacon.  It came in a huge cardboard box with a lot of packinag material, which doesn't make much sense, as it's just a nylon bag that could've been folded and stuffed into a mailer.  As soon as I removed it from it's packaging, I put it through an initial round of very important testing- shoving my portfolio into it.

The tag that was attached to my Creativo Artists Messenger Bag touts the features of the bag, including:

  • Comfortable Messenger Style
  • Waterproof and Strong
  • Spacious and accessible
  • Identity Pouch
  • 24 or More Pockets
  • Adjustable Shoulder Strap
  • Cell Phone
  • Brush and Pencil Pockets
The Portfolio

(I apologize, these photos were taken in Luling, after flying all day, and so the bag is in far less than pristine condition.  This was the bag's first trip, however, and it gives you an idea of how the Creativo handles wear and tear)

The side pockets are listed as phone pockets, but let's face it, hardly anyone's phone is going to fit in a pocket this size.  They are, however, good keys pockets, or gum pockets, or eraser pockets, although you should keep in mind that easy access for you means easy access for other people too.  There are some zipper pockets on the front of the bag that are much more attractive, to me, as a safe place to store important things.

The Field Test

The Creativo Artist's Messenger Bag has A LOT of pockets.  The inside front pocket has been subdivided into smaller pockets for brushes, which is great if you use longhandled brushes and want to subject them to a lot of wear and tear by having them out like that.  The next pocket has been divided into two large pockets, and behind that are two zippered pockets.  The bag itself is one large opening, perfect for portfolios and sketchbooks, and there's another zippered pocket on the inside.

The bag is held shut by one plastic clasp across the top of the bag (to hold your portfolios in place), and two clasps on the front.  Mine came loose at the airport, so keep in mind that you may need to take other measures to secure this bag for travel.

I also overstuffed my bag, and the strain caused my clasps to start to tear off, as the lining fabric of the front flap is fairly thin.

The interior of the front flap includes a plastic ID pocket, I guess so you can write your name and address on a piece of card and slip it in there, lest your bag and you separate.

The back of the bag includes two zippered pockets, and the sizes feature one open pocket and one pocket with a velcro shut flap, presumably for your candy bar phone.

The Creativo Artist's Messenger Bag can hold A LOT of stuff.  Here it is after I got back from Louisiana, crammed pretty full with my art supplies.

Inside is an 11"x17" portfolio full of finished watercolors, an 11"x17" plastic envelope with pencilled pages, two watercolor paint palettes, cardstock in a plastic case, sketching pencil colors, my brushes in their travel case, and page protectors.

Also in shot:  One photographer's leg.

And here's everything strewn about on the carpet!

The true test was when I was trying to haul my portfolio, Gizmo Grandma in-progress pages, painting supplies, and sketchbook across three airports in a hurry on Saturday.  The shoulder strap on the Creativo is pitiful, and ends up digging badly into my shoulder.  The fabric of the Creativo is too thin to really lug much weight, and it was hard to balance things properly.  The underside of the front flap, where the snaps attach, started to tear from the strain- the fabric the snaps are attached to is thin.

The Verdict

I'm sure I overpacked the bag beyond what it's intended to carry, and honestly, for $20, it's a great bag to haul your unwieldy portfolio on short jaunts.  I just wish someone would make some decent artist travel luggage that could really take a beating, because I know I'm not the only artist who has to travel a lot for work.

$20 is more than a fair price for this bag, especially if you've wanted a bag to haul your portfolios in.  This is not travel luggage, and probably won't hold up to many more overstuffed excursions, but I definitely feel like I've gotten my $20 worth, especially once I fix the buckles.


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