Art Supplies

Boy, I sure could use your help. I’m writing the “Market” section of my book proposal and trying to find statistics on art supplies. This is what I’m looking for:

  1. How much do artists spend each year on art supplies? Or . . .
  2. What are the annual sales for art-supply stores?

I assume that a lot of this is purchased through catalogues or online, but I can’t find any statistics anywhere.

Is there a reference for this information that you’ve heard of?

Thanks for any help!

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7 comments to Art Supplies

  • I usually spend about $3,000.00 per new collection, directly from one supplier…this includes an artist discount and is in Canadian dollars…does not include post- painting expenses such as framing…

  • I think the answer to the first question is “far too bloody much!” Seriously though, it depends what you count as art materials. I looked up my figures and for the 2004 – 2005 tax year I spent £1081.02, but this included things like stationary, training, getting photographs developed, computer ink etc so it’s art career expenses generally not just materials. The figure just for materials was £631.61 I haven’t done my expenses for this tax year yet but the figures for 2003 – 2004 were £2889.12 for all my expenses but just £202.17 on actual materials – I bought a lot of equipment that year. However, I’m not sure that my costs are typical because I tend to work with cheap things like fruit, salt, matches, pins and fabric. Although I am certainly capable of spending lots of money on art materials (I blew £70 on them this week), the things I use are generally not very expensive, especially when compared to stuff like casting in bronze or painting large oils. I find it depends on what I’m making and whether I have any exhibitions coming up. Brand new work generally costs more because I experiment with new materials and often end up buying stuff to test out ideas that then winds up in the cupboard for a year or two because it wasn’t right for that particular piece. For more established series of work, I usually already have most of what I need and I’m just topping up supplies. Exhibitions are always a budget blower because there’s a lot of extra expenses, plus I’m often making new site-specific work. Incidentally, I wrote a piece on my blog yesterday that you might be interested in. It’s tips on putting together applications for art exhibitions. I’m both an artist and a freelance curator so I get to see both sides of the situation.

  • My art supply purchases covering paints, brushes, paper, canvas etc. and framing: 2004 – $2,323.95 2005 – $1,241.20 Through July 2006 -$1,797.12 Large purchases are bought by catalogue, small items locally. Hope this helps. Regina Murphy

  • Angie Peterson’s blog has some new research study posted here: http://angiepedersen.typepad.com/sb_industry_news/ Also check NAMTA – the art materials trade association at http://www.namta.org/index.cfm

  • Are you looking for numbers that are costs for materials used in the making of the product or all supplies together? Paints, canvas, gesso, paper are considered materials whereas brushes, brayers, tools would go under office/studio supplies as they are not items being resold. Art tools are definitely under the category of “art supplies” but as an accountant will tell you they are in a different items in your record keeping.

  • This isn’t for tax purposes. I just want to know how much money is being spent at art supply stores. In other words, how big is their market?

  • I have read that 70% of the American public buys art supplies but I am not sure where I read that statistic. I have heard it repeated more than once, too. It’s a huge market. Why not ask someone at the big catalogue companies like Pearl Paint or Cheap Joe’s? I also think the government keeps track. The government has all sorts of interesting stats, including average artist incomes, etc. Good luck! Personally I spend around $2500-3000 on supplies (including brushes, etc.)yearly.