10 Art Tools & Resources that Changed My Art Life

A resource list for artists!

The following is a list of tools I wish knew about when I first began and a list of resources that have made life as an artist so much easier.


I primarily work with acrylic paints, and it has endured as my favorite medium to work in. However, my world was taken to a whole new level when I found paints by the brand Golden Acrylics. Their pigments are rich and vibrant, and if there is a certain color that you need a LOT of, they carry every color in larger sizes.


Only just this past year have I begun my journey into the digital art world. And the difference having a large screen tablet to interact with has not only made digital art possible and easy, but it has also made it incredibly easier to just do the little editing touchups I normally did with a mouse. Revolutionary!

Cintiq tablets are very pricey, and their cords are very easy to damage, but it has definately changed my art world and I don’t regret the purchase. From big to small projects, it’s perfection!


With the Cintiq, I purchased Corel Painter 2016. While it is not the program if you need to do editorial and design work, it is still fabulous for transitioning from traditional media into digital. The program mimics traditional media brushes and styles. This program is a little pricey, but then again, most of the digital world is pricey.


Free to download, Photoscape is a photo editor. It is both easy to use but also has a surprising amount of features. I find that it is the easiest of all the editors I have ever tried to use while also delivering the most variety. Plus, it’s free! I end up making all my final edits in Photoscape just because it is so user-friendly. Website: http://www.photoscape.org/ps/main/download.php


Sometimes you need a special color mat board or a special design cut into your mat board. What do you do? I purchased a mat cutter board a few years ago, and I used it so much to cut custom mat boards and the corresponding backings that I literally shredded the screw that holds the razor blades in place. This was one of my best purchases, and an item I need to replace (as I wore it out!).


Speaking of mat boards, what if you need to frame a bunch of prints with mat board, backing, and clear plastic bags? Running to your local art story gets $$$ crazy pricey, and doing stacks of them yourself can become nightmare time consuming. When I found Clearbags.com, I wanted to cry because I never knew who easy this whole process could become! Clearbags is a wholesale site that provides many of these things you need in bulk. The prices are great!! Website: https://www.clearbags.com/


When I first started showing my art in booths at art festivals, there were no easy ways of taking credit card payments, even though that is how everyone wanted to pay. I had to pay hundreds of dollars to set up a merchant account with my local bank just to get an old fashioned carbon copy credit card reader and then had to pay enormous fees every month for the account. I was locked into a three year contract, and it was a nightmare.

Not long after I finally was able to close this account, Squarespace came onto the scene. And boy, don’t I wish this had come along a few years sooner!! It’s free to signup, and you pay $1 to get the credit card swipe plugin. Wowza! If you are going to be selling your work at a festival or convention, get the Squarespace credit card reader cell phone plugin!!! Website: https://www.squarespace.com/


Getting prints made can become very pricey very quickly, not to mention that a lot of printers you might send your work to come out much darker and very dingy. An entire resource could be written on getting good prints made, but I am just going to keep this simple and tell about a few on demand print services that I have had great luck with.

Walgreen Photo – 8 or 9 times out of 10, whatever I send to them comes out vibrant and bright, just like my originals. They also have a lot of options for printing postcards and directly on merchandise. I haven’t tried out their whole array yet, but so far so good.

Moo.com – This is on my list to try next after I got back a dingy batch of business cards from Staples. Every artist I know swears by Moo, and they are my next bet!


I love working in charcoal. I also like sketching in my sketchbook with charcoal. If you work with charcoal, you know that this can be a problem. That is, until I found Workable Fixatif by Krylon. It is sometimes hard to find, but it is my absolute favorite for setting charcoal and guaranteeing no smudge!


I wish I had bought this $40 item on day one!! As an artist, you are always going to be cutting paper down to the size you want, or cutting off extra trim to get a piece into the frame you want, or cutting prints to size. If you are a scrapbooker or a book art maker, you should most certainly have one. Whatever it is, you are gonna use it. And boy, have I cut more pages than I can count! I never would have thought I would need one of these, but it made life 10x easier once I did!


What are some of your favorite tools and resources? Please share them with me in the comments below.

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