How to Choose Art Supplies for Gifts

Brushes and watercolour palette.
Guido Mieth / Getty Images

The art shop can be pretty confusing, especially for non-artists, but take heart, with a bit of thought - and snooping to see what's already on their shelves - you can choose the perfect creative present for the artist in your life. Always choose the best quality within your budget - 'you get what you pay for' is a rule of thumb with art materials.

For Children: Choose Safe, Age-appropriate Products.

Forget those huge sets of cheap art stuff - opt for a small set of good quality materials instead. Crayola products are reliable. Avoid pens/markers for littles (the ​lids get left off).Good quality triangular-grip pencils are ideal for small children, while primary age kids will love Faber-Castell's tin of Watercolor pencils, which comes complete with a brush. A4 Canson spiral-bound sketchbooks are good value and always useful. Consider a simple how-to-draw book for kids from 6 years.

  • Choosing Children's Art Materials

Teens: Find Out What They're Into!

Some teens won't draw, having decided that they don't have any talent. Doug Dubosque's 'Draw 3-D' might entice them to reconsider. Many teens will enjoy a book on drawing fantasy or Manga/Anime characters. For budding cartoonists, permanent fine fibre-tipped pens are great. Consumables like paper are always a good choice - a pad of Strathmore 400 series paper is perfect, or choose a bound sketchbook to use as a daily journal. Also consider a book on their favorite period from Art History.

Creative Adults

You'll need to find out what they have already, or what they don't have! Many adults enjoy experimenting with different media. A Watercolor Field Sketching Box by Winsor and Newton or Daler-Rowney will be a sure winner, and a luxury sketchbook is always a popular choice. If in doubt, consider a subscription to an art magazine, or a video/DVD.

Grownup Gift Suggestion: a DIY Ink Sketching Kit

Put together an ink drawing set. You'll need a two nib-holders, two fine drawing nibs (perhaps a few, they are inexpensive), a bottle of Indian ink of a reputable brand, and a pad of medium/lightweight, hot-pressed watercolor sketch paper. To allow for pen-and-wash, include a number 8 Taklon Round Brush, a tube of black watercolor paint and a small mixing bowl.

Grownup Gift Suggestion: Conte Sketching Set

Conte crayons are ideal for figure sketching and encourage loose, expressive work. Team a pad of large-sized pastel paper in various colors with a kneadable (putty) eraser, 2 large blending stumps (tortillons) and a box of conte crayons in various colors including black, white, sepia, and earth colors, and a tin of Workable Fixative spray.

Kids Gift Suggestion: Colored Pencil Kit

Encourage little artists with a spiral-bound sketchbook teamed with Freddie Levins 'Draw Cartoon Animals' or Steve Barr's '123-Draw Cartoon People' from Peel Books. Include a set of 12 student-quality colored pencils, with some extra earth colors or skin colors from the loose pencil selection in your art store. Add a white plastic eraser, kneadable eraser, and a sharpener.