The best gifts for art majors

Education

When it comes to buying gifts for the art major college student in your life, gestures as small as a paint brush go a long way.

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Invest in the artist in your life with gifts that motivate and inspire 

The life of an art student is equal parts creative genius, commitment to craft, reliance on caffeine and sheer nerve. Apart from the creative challenges of producing art to maintain a GPA, art supplies are expensive. Then there are the usual stresses of college life: work-life balance, housing, socializing and remembering to feed yourself.

Between navigating adult life and forking out cash on paper, paint, graphite, clay and more, one thing’s for sure: the art student in your life will be delighted to receive a thoughtful gift. Whether it’s some much-needed supplies, organizational tools or inspiring books, you can provide an art major with a bit of inspiration and comfort by sending them the perfect gift. 

The best gifts for art majors 

Art supplies

When shopping for an art major, your best bet is to buy them a gift they’ll use, like art supplies.

Not familiar with the supplies artists use every day? Don’t make the mistake of aimlessly wandering the halls of an art store wondering whether a $40 paintbrush is any better than a $3 one. Instead, reach for tried, true and practical art supplies all artists need. 

Top art supplies 

Prismacolor 3721 Premier Double-Ended Art Markers, Fine and Chisel Tip, 24-Count Assorted Colors

Prismacolor 3721 Premier Double-Ended Art Markers, Fine and Chisel Tip, 24-Count Assorted Colors

What you need to know: These dual-ended and dye-based markers are considered the premier marker for serious artists and illustrators. 

What you’ll love: When you buy an artist a set of Prismacolors, you’re making an investment. Prismacolors are made to last. Once you buy them, keeping them fresh is as simple as purchasing replacement ink. Each marker includes both a fine and a chisel tip, rich color, high-blend-ability and a stunning range of colors. 

What you should consider: These markers are an investment, but you’ll show your giftee you support their long-term art career when you splurge on supplies of the best quality. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top art supplies for the money

Magicfly 100% Cotton Square Canvas Boards for Painting 32 Pack

Magicfly 100% Cotton Square Canvas Boards for Painting 32 Pack

What you need to know: This 32-pack of canvas boards will serve as a semester’s worth of surface for an art student’s practice paintings. 

What you’ll love: This is an economical and versatile package of canvases, ideal for painters who produce many small pieces while working to improve their craft. They have durable and warp-proof medium-density fiberboard wrapped in 100% cotton canvas peel and are ideal for acrylic, oil, gouache and more.

What you should consider: Some professors can be picky about the surfaces students use for their coursework. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

Handmade Linen Crossback Apron with Pockets 

Handmade Linen Crossback Apron with Pockets 

What you need to know: A linen apron is an ideal gift for a student artist who wants to look the part while creating art professionally. 

What you’ll love: This cotton exudes quality with a luxurious 80% cotton and 20% linen blend. It feels great on skin and layers nicely over dresses and pants. The roomy double pockets are deep enough to hold art supplies like long brushes, pencils, charcoal and carving tools. Keep your giftee’s clothing safe from paint and graphite stains.

What you should consider: This apron has a classic aesthetic that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea stylistically. 

Where to buy: Sold by Etsy 

Organizational

While the mediums and practices of art students are as varied as their interests and imaginations, there’s one thing on which you can generally rely: an art major has a lot of stuff. 

Art supplies of various sizes and mediums, inspirational trinkets, scraps, works in progress and syllabi are sure to pile up quickly if an art student doesn’t have a way to corral the tools of their trade. Desk organizers are a popular way to keep art supplies organized and come in a variety of styles. 

Top organizational gift for artists 

Handmade Leather Paint Brush Roll

Handmade Leather Paint Brush Roll

What you need to know: This is a high-quality, genuine leather brush case, made by hand with a vintage aesthetic. 

What you’ll love: Brushes are one of an artist’s most sacred tools: they aren’t cheap, and they need to be cared for else they lose their functionality. Any artist will be thrilled to have a case for their brushes that shows their tools respect and feels as good as it looks. This case will last them all through college and into their painting career.

What you should consider: If the art student you’re buying for is a vegan, they likely won’t appreciate this genuine leather roll. 

Where to buy: Sold by Etsy 

Top organizational gift for the money

Masterson Sta-Wet airtight Box Premier Palette, Standard, White

Masterson Sta-Wet airtight Box Premier Palette, Standard, White

What you need to know: This is a unique palette system for keeping paint moist between art sessions. 

What you’ll love: Quality paint is pricey, and nothing feels worse for an emerging artist than wasting precious supplies. This paint saver system will allow the art student in your life to squeeze and mix directly on palette paper placed within the airtight box. Once done with their session, they can wet the included sponge and seal the lid. Their paint will stay wet and workable for days at a time. 

What you should consider: Some artists find this palette is too large to manipulate easily. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

SimpleHouseware Heavy Duty 3-Tier Metal Utility Rolling Cart, White

SimpleHouseware Heavy Duty 3-Tier Metal Utility Rolling Cart, White

What you need to know: This wheeled storage option is ideal for providing easy access to supplies while creating and simplifying the cleanup process. 

What you’ll love: It’s a heavy-duty, three-tier storage cart big enough to hold an artist’s supplies for painting, drawing, sculpture or any other medium. The wheels can be locked for stationary storage and released for easy transportation. Easy to assemble.

What you should consider: If an art student is living in a dorm or other small shared housing, they may not have much floor space to accommodate a rolling cart.  

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Books

Information is abundant for artists to reference online, but little replicates the joy of flipping through the pages of a book that truly speaks to you. While art students today live in a unique technological era, there are some books every artist should read on their educational journey. 

Whether it’s discovering your unique vision or finding a way to turn your passion into a career, there’s a book for that. 

Top book for art majors

The Artist's Way Starter Kit

The Artist’s Way Starter Kit

What you need to know: “The Artist’s Way” is a book precious to artists of multiple generations and sure to spark a fire in the heart of the budding artist in your life.

What you’ll love: Author Julia Cameron has helped creatives unleash their potential for decades with her insight into the creative process and guidance for living an artist’s life. This kit brings incredible value with The Artist’s Way and the Morning Pages Journal bundled together. This sets an artist up for success in sticking with the suggestions of the lie-changing 12-week program outlined in the book. 

What you should consider: This guide to creative recovery leans heavily on spiritual motifs and often refers to the universe as “God,” which won’t appeal to some secular readers. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top book for the money

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative 

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative 

What you need to know: This is a pragmatic and actionable guide to generative creativity that every artist owes to themself to read. 

What you’ll love: From where do artists get their inspiration? How do you know if you’re finding inspiration from a piece of art or plagiarizing it? How do you find your style and get to know yourself as an artist? How do artists stay out of debt? Austin Kleon distills these far too often overly complicated questions into bite-size pieces of advice. 

What you should consider: This book is notably brief and may leave your giftee wishing they could spend more time inside its pages. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic

Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic

What you need to know: This is a visually striking self-help book on discovering and nurturing one’s creative identity. 

What you’ll love: Art students spend much of their time immersed in a world of technical lessons and imitation. It’s easy for a student to feel lost when it comes to their creative identity and forget what called them to create in the first place. Author, artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon offers practical exercises, strategies and advice to help artists develop their unique style and discover their voice.  

What you should consider: Some readers find the grey text in this book challenging to read. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Evelyn Waugh writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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