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Finding gifts for your favorite creatives can be tricky, especially if you aren’t an expert in their craft. Luckily, we have winning gift ideas for painters, ceramicists, filmmakers, margin doodlers, design appreciators, and everyone in between. And don’t forget to check out our list of gifts under $25.00 here. (Prices and availability accurate at time of publication.)
FOR ARTISTS AND MAKERS
A water-soluble graphite set
Water-soluble graphite is having a moment. The medium, often in pencil form, lays down like traditional graphite but can be diluted with water to make washes. Because it combines the control of drawing with the smooth flow of water media, it’s something both sketch artists and watercolorists can have fun with. It also makes a great gift for art novices, since the water does some of the shading work for you. Faber-Castell’s Graphite Aquarelle set includes five soft-grade pencils and a size 6 paintbrush.
Purchase: Graphite Aquarelle Pencils Set of 5, $12.67 on Blick
An upgrade calligraphy set
The German brand Kaweco produces some of the most user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing, not to mention budget-friendly, fountain pens available. We’re fans of its Sport line, whose pens are lightweight, compact, and come in beautiful colors. This boxed set is designed for newcomers to calligraphy, and includes a cool mint-hued fountain pen as well as four nibs for different effects, plus lots of black ink.
Purchase: Kaweco Calligraphy Sport Pen Set, $69 on Jet Pens
Get someone started with acrylic inks
This unique medium combines the flexibility of ink with the archival qualities of acrylic paint. Thinner than paint, the water-based formula can be used for watercolor techniques, in dip and calligraphy pens, airbrushes, and droppers. Sennelier has a great starter set of five colors that are richly colored out of the bottle, which features a dropper for easy application. The colors are lightfast and permanent.
Purchase: Sennelier Abstract Acrylic Inks and Sets, $6.53–$25.30 on Blick
A beautiful brush pot
A pot for paintbrushes need not be fancy: Jasper Johns famously used a Savarin coffee can that became a recurring image in his work. But spicing up your brush holder can add a nice touch to your workspace. The studio at Brooklyn Clay Industries is a fantastic place to find one-of-a-kind clay creations, from functional wares to sculptures. This low vase can be used for short stems, but it can also double as an attractive brush holder.
Purchase: Majestic Vase, $80.81 on Brooklyn Clay Industries
A unique set of gouache paints
Holbein’s Irodori line should get more attention. Labeled as a gouache, the deeply pigmented paint falls somewhere between gouache and watercolor in terms of opacity and is meant to be layered rather than mixed. The full line of 48 colors is divided into four seasonal palettes drawn from traditional Japanese art circa the 15th century. Get the stunning box of 12 winter hues—including earthy browns and greens, cool jewel tones, and an iridescent gold—for your favorite water-based media artist.
Purchase: Holbein Irodori Artist Gouache—Winter, $60 (was $107.99) on Blick
A mega-sampler of drawing and painting pads
The paper distributor Legion is offering an indulgent yet useful holiday gift: a sampler of its best-known artist’s papers. Included are 13 9-by-12-inch pads of different types of high-quality paper, ranging from Yupo (a slick polypropylene surface that gives unparalleled flow to water-based media) to Lenox 100-percent-cotton drawing paper to Stonehenge cold press watercolor paper. Perfect for the artist who likes to experiment, the set is also a good deal—purchased separately, the pads would be double the price.
Purchase: Artist Pad Collection, $119.95, on Legion
A good paint brush case
While not the most aesthetically pleasing of brush cases, this no-nonsense zippered version is one of the best. The water-resistant fabric and vinyl flap are handy for wet brushes, and the pack is rigid enough to protect your brushes—and stand up on its own to double as a brush holder—without a lot of bulk.
Purchase: Just Stow-It Brush Case, $27.15 on Blick
. . . or a luxurious leather roll
This sleek roll keeps an artist’s favorite implements, whether brushes or markers, organized and safe during travel. Made of genuine leather that will wear beautifully, it opens to reveal dozens of tools at once and folds up into a sleek tube. It also sports a zippered pouch for small stuff. Choose from six colors, and add a personalization if you wish.
Purchase: Leather Artist Roll, $52 on Etsy
A universal paint sprayer
The amazing Preval paint sprayer allows you to achieve smooth gradations without the hassle and expense of an airbrush. Pour up to 16 ounces of pretty much any paint (or glaze, dye, stain, etc.) into the refillable container, screw on the sprayer attachment, and you instantly have an aerosol spray paint. The tool is extremely easy to use and cuts way down on waste, since you only have to add as much paint as you want to use each session. Perfect for painters, stencilers, ceramicists, furniture upcylers, and more.
Purchase: Preval Sprayer ValPack, $39.95 on Preval OR Preval Spray System, $9.99 on Preval
A mini projector
Bitty projectors are often used by installation artists, and having one is a renewable resource for many different artworks. They’re also great for a range of arts and crafts, making tracing a design onto a wall, canvas, or piece of fabric a breeze. This model from Miroir looks like an old-school desktop pencil sharpener but performs well in all the ways an artist would want, with strong color accuracy, sharp definition, impressive speakers for the size, and a decent (four-hour) battery life. At just over 4 by 3 by 6 inches, it’s not the smallest model available but is still easily portable.
Purchase: Miroir SYNQ M189 Projector, $249.99 (was $349.99) on Best Buy
Brass tacks you can rely on
Sturdy pushpins can be hard to find, especially now that their original manufacturer, Moore, has gone out of business. These handsome brass ones from Los Angeles-based Shorthand Press feature a durable rod and a pretty gem-like head that work together to keep papers properly anchored.
Purchase: Geometric Push Pins, 50 pins for $14 on Appointed
All-ages paint markers
Everybody’s favorite paint markers, Poscas lay down pigment-rich, opaque paint that is water-soluble while wet and water-resistant when fully dried to a matte finish. Suitable for users of all ages, the markers are sold individually in 29 colors or in sets, with seven tip sizes to choose from—from 0.7 millimeters to 2.5 millimeters. Don’t forget to shake before use and apply pressure to the nib to release uniform, even lines.
Purchase: Posca Paint Markers and Sets, $3.10–$46.96 on Blick
A sharp (in every way) sharpener
From the maker of the legendary Blackwing 602 pencil comes this solid hand-crank sharpener. Its steel helical blade works consistently to shave off points without jamming, and it can deliver long and sharp points but also short and blunt ones, if that’s what you seek—simply move the dial to adjust settings. An automatic brake prevents it from over-sharpening, while a rubber opening retracts pencils automatically without scuffing. The metal case is sleek and minimalist, worthy of displaying on your work table. Caution: Use with any drawing tools but graphite pencils at your own risk.
Purchase: Blackwing Desktop Sharpener, $120 on Blackwing
A sturdy messenger bag
For the artist on the go, we recommend this nylon messenger bag, which can hold a plethora of art supplies. It offers plenty of compartments, including dedicated space for 30 brushes or pens, large sketch pads, and a laptop. Plus, it’s secure and comfortable to carry for long periods.
Purchase: Martin Universal Design Just Stow-It Messenger Bag, $53.62 on Blick
A hardy work apron
Protect your clothing with a work apron that also looks good. This one is made of hemp canvas, which is lightweight and breathable, yet durable. It features a chest pocket as well as two side pockets.
Purchase: All Seasons Hemp Canvas Apron, $65 on Patagonia
Slim but mighty artist-grade scissors
Designed by Yasuemon Nakabashi, a respected Japanese bookbinder, these stainless-steel scissors are an excellent go-to for delicate paper-cutting needs. The blades are sharp, with the top one curved and longer, which assists in consistent, continuous slicing. Plus, they are titanium-coated, which helps them stay clean of any sticky tape residue.
Purchase: Nakabayashi for Itoya Scissors, $24.75 on Etsy
FOR CREATIVE KIDS
An up-to-date paper doll
From the costume designer for Black Panther comes this high-quality paper doll whose contemporary outfits are inspired by traditional African clothing. You get one paper doll plus two perforated sheets of garments and accessories. We love that the doll isn’t static but has articulated limbs, which you can move by attaching mini brads (included) when assembling her. The designs are all printed on durable heavy stock.
Purchase: Ruth Carter Paper Doll Kit, $35.00 on Academy Museum
A tried-and-tested STEM kit for kids
STEM kits can develop a youngster’s love of both science and art and demonstrate how they complement each other. MEL Science offers a monthly subscription suitable for ages five to nine (and even older) that you can choose to include art-related activities ranging from building a working printing press to making your own paints. The instructions for each well-designed kit are clear and stoke curiosity, and the materials are generally plastic-free and recyclable. You can mix and match kits to focus on the science of art materials, or go with a larger range of STEM activities.
Purchase: MEL Science subscription, from $29.90/month or $180/year on MEL Science
A set of water-soluble artist’s crayons
Fun to use alone and a delight to blend with watercolor, Caran d’Ache’s buttery and bright Neocolor II crayons offer the option of wet or dry techniques (or a combination of the two), plus quick clean up with water and soap, making them a great gift for kids.
Purchase: Caran d’Ache Neocolor II Artists’ Crayons, $2.60 to $209.99 on Blick
Double-ended, alcohol-ink markers
Featuring barrels that are thinner than standard to accommodate small hands, Ciao alcohol-based markers are a less expensive version of its professional lines. They are double-tipped, with a brush on one end and a broad chisel tip on the other. Not for children under 12.
Purchase: Copic Ciao Double Ended Markers and Sets, $3.90 to $280 on Blick
A tiny movie camera
This fun little device—just 3 by 4 inches in size—allows you to shoot a mini silent movie on 35mm film. Perfect for budding experimental filmmakers who can carry the compact cam everywhere they go.
Purchase: LomoKino, $59.90 on B&H
An award-winning coding kit
Offering hours of engagement for young creatives, Lego’s coding kit is one of the best learning toys on the market. Recommended for kids ages 7 and up, it combines the traditional building of Legos with motors and programming so users can bring all kinds of bots and gadgets to life. Use of a tablet is required to access the step-by-step instructions for coding models so they move, make sounds, and much more.
Purchase: Lego Boost Creative Toolbox, $159.99 on Lego
Individual storage caddy
Everything that Japanese brand Penco makes has an industrial flair, down to this stackable plastic caddy that comes in six bright colors. It features one long compartment plus three smaller ones, each just over 3 inches deep, to help keep children’s art supplies organized.
Purchase: PENCO Large Storage Caddy, $28.95 on Omoi Zakka
The protagonist of this book, best for readers ages five to nine, is a grade-school artist who thinks she can’t draw. But with the encouragement of her teacher, she learns how a simple mark can lead to a masterpiece. It couples short texts with beautiful illustrations, making for an easy-going and engaging read.
Uncle Andy’s: A Faabbbulous Visit with Andy Warhol
Written and illustrated by James Warhola, the nephew of Andy Warhol, this award-winning book—suitable for children in kindergarten through third grade—recounts Warhola’s memories of the Pop artist. A nonfiction tale about experiencing the wonders of art at a young age, this title is sure to inspire readers while introducing them to the world of Warhol.
Purchase: Uncle Andy’s, from $7.99 on Amazon
Baby’s First Eames
Finally, an alphabet book that’s about great design! Your child may not (yet) know who Frank Lloyd Wright and Isamu Noguchi are, but they can dip their toes into the world of architecture and design with this ABC. The illustrations are fun because the objects are fun, and the whole package is sure to entertain parents, too. It makes a wonderful first—or 95th—birthday present.
Purchase: Baby’s First Eames, $11.99 on Amazon
FOR WRITERS AND NOTE MAKERS
A superior gel pen
Some might say the Uni-ball Signo is the mullet of pens. OK, maybe we’re the only ones saying that. But consider this: The Uni-ball Signo is equal parts business and party. The smooth-flowing gel ink is waterproof, fade-proof, and archival, making it perfect for serious pen artists. On the party side, it comes in a rainbow of colors, including subdued “near black” hues, bold primaries, and sweet pastels, plus a range of tip sizes.
Purchase: Uni-ball Signo Pens, from $2.85 on JetPens
. . . Or, a nice fountain pen
For a more elegant writing utensil, consider the sleek Kaweco AL Sport fountain pen. The “sport” in its name refers to its compact nature, which allows you to always keep it on hand. Although available in several different materials and finishes, we love the AL line, which features a hard-wearing aluminum body with a comfortable heft. Choose from a range of colors, nib sizes and finishes, ink converters, and pen clips. If you’re unsure of your gift recipient’s preferences, go for a medium steel nib to start; it can always be changed out later.
Purchase: Kaweco AL Sport Fountain Pens, $67.95 to $75.50 on JetPens
. . . paired with a journal created for fountain pens
If you know your notebooks, you know that Rhodia’s have a cult following—and for good reason. These tried-and-true leatherette journals are bound with high-quality, smooth European paper that is ideal for taking fountain pen ink. The legacy brand, in business since 1934, offers options in a wide range of colors and sizes, including a super-handy pocket-size journal.
Purchase: Rhodia Rhodiarama notebooks, $14.95 and up on Goldspot
An underrated workhorse pen
Loaded with water-based and acid-free ink, this pen feels a bit like a marker, but it dries quickly and is smudge-resistant. We love how the felt tip simply glides across the page, leaving bold, opaque lines whose width you can adjust by changing your writing angle. It’s best used on thicker paper as the inkier formula can lead to bleedthrough, but is otherwise the perfect everyday pen.
Purchase: Paper Mate Flair Pen, $10.75 for 12 on Amazon
A sophisticated work portfolio
These document holders are super slim and visually clean, but thanks to the thick and durable cover stock, they can support up to 50 sheets of medium-weight paper. Designed to open like an envelope, they stay shut with a hidden hook and loop closure.
Purchase: Appointed Document Folder, $28 for four on Appointed
A convertible laptop stand
We all spend a ton of time on our computers these days, and an accessory that makes it more comfortable is a gift that keeps on giving. The Moft Z laptop stand can function as a wedge to make couch typing more comfortable or can extend to turn any table into a standing desk. When not in use, it folds into a 0.5-inch-thick panel that easily fits in a drawer, bookshelf, or bag.
Purchase: Moft Z Sit-Stand Laptop Desk, $69.99 on Moft
A classic film case
Film cameras are back in vogue. For a friend or relative who has dusted their old one off (or bought a new one), what about this film holder from Kodak? It can hold eight rolls of 120 film or 10 rolls of 135 film, with each roll kept secure thanks to an inner organizer. The steel tin is lightweight and portable, and comes in silver and the brand’s signature yellow.
Purchase: Kodak Film Case, $25 on B&H Photo Video
A medium-format still camera
The new X2D 100C medium-format camera from Hasselblad is very pricey, and for good reason: Its cutting-edge features include a newly developed 100-megapixel sensor, an upgraded autofocus design, an all-new 5-axis image stabilization system, 1TB of internal storage, and a lot more. But it’s for still photographs only, since this camera has no video capabilities.
Purchase: X2D 100C, $8,199 on B&H Photo Video
A better printer
Today’s full-frame cameras boast very high-megapixel sensors, which produce very high-resolution images. To take advantage of that detail, though, you need a printer that can deliver. If you or your giftee are serious about printing your or their own photographs, it’s a good idea to invest in an inkjet printer that uses pigment inks. Our favorite is the Epson SureColor P900, a 17-inch-wide pigment printer that uses 10 separate UltraChrome PRO10 ink cartridges for rich, vibrant color.
Purchase: Epson SureColor P900, $1,249.00 on Adorama
Gloves for adventurous photographers
A thoughtful gift for photography lovers that they’ll never see coming: a pair of heavy-duty gloves they can wear while shooting outdoors in extreme conditions. These nylon gloves will keep users warm during the winter, and they feature rubberized palms and touchscreen-compatible fingertips. Also included are a double-layered beanie and a neck warmer.
Purchase: RucPac Photographer’s Winter Apparel Package, $89.97 on B&H Photo Video
An external hard drive with a thick skin
If you’re a photographer on the go, you need a reliable external hard drive that can quickly and securely back up your photos and video clips. LaCie’s Rugged USB-C 5TB drive is not only fast, it’s compatible with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 connectors. It’s also drop-, crush-, and water-resistant.
Purchase: LaCie Rugged USB-C 5TB External Hard Drive, $179.95 on Amazon
A needed book on exposure
Today, many of us rely on the automated settings to get the correct exposures for our photos and videos. But when photographers used film cameras, those settings—particularly shutter speed and aperture—were often set manually. This well-written book on exposure clearly explains the concept and offers techniques for improving your photos, even if you’re using a digital camera.
Purchase: Understanding Exposure, Fourth Edition, by Bryan Peterson, $17.39 on Amazon
This LED panel is an excellent gift for photographers who can benefit from a portable but powerful light source. It’s lightweight, small, and versatile, allowing users to adjust its color temperature and brightness.
Purchase: Lume Cube Panel Mini, $54.99 (was $69.99) on Lume Cube
A luxury camera bag
Manufactured in England since 1973, Billingham’s camera bags may cost a bit more, but they’re worth it. Their leather-and-canvas Hadley Pro 2020 can accommodate a standard-size DSLR or mirrorless camera along with two or three small or medium-size lenses plus accessories. We also like that it looks more like a chic satchel than a camera bag.
Purchase: Billingham Hadley Pro 2020, $320 on Amazon
A real wheel for tiny pots
In case you haven’t been paying attention, tiny pots are big. But until now, the only miniature pottery wheels available for under $200 have been novelty items. Behold, then, the Small Wheel, designed and made in the UK by two dedicated potters. Not a toy, but a real tool, the Small Wheel is a sturdy machine with a powerful motor, variable speeds, a wheel that can spin in both directions, a removable bat system, and an easy-to-clean collection tray.
Purchase: The Small Wheel, £150 on Small Ceramics
NEXT DROP OF SMALL POTTERY WHEELS: 30TH NOVEMBER, 5PM GMT
A time-saving trimming stand
Not every step of wheel throwing is equally rewarding. The Quick Trim 2 stand uses four foam holders to quickly center and secure your vessel for trimming so you don’t have to waste time (and clay) with clay wedges. Each holder can be adjusted individually, making it easy to secure oblong or asymmetrical shapes.
Purchase: Quick Trim 2, $139.50 on The Ceramic Shop
Luxurious sewing snips
Yes, you can buy thread snips for as little as $2, but these snips, made by artisans in Japan and finished with silk Iga braids, are beautiful, ultra-sharp, and easy on the hands. Your favorite sewist will treasure them.
Purchase: Cohana-Shozaburo Thread Snips with Silk Iga Braid, $56.18 on Etsy
A pair of personalized dressmaker shears
Nothing beats a classic, and these ultra-sharp, all-metal dressmaker’s shears from Gingher are just that. Measuring eight inches in length, they are ideal for cutting large pieces of cloth, and the bent handle helps hold fabric flat to the cutting surface. This vendor will personalize a pair of gold-handled Ginghers for your favorite dress- or quiltmaker.
Purchase: Engraved Gingher 8″ Dressmaker Shears, $70 on Etsy
Labels for crafters
We love labels! If you are shopping for a gift for a knitter or sewist, consider these labels from Kylie and the Machine. They’re fun, a bit quirky, and come in a nice tin.
Purchase: Labels from Kylie and the Machine, $9–$43 on KATM
Funds for friends who love to sew
Fabrics and yarns are arguably best chosen by artists themselves, since there’s so much variation involved, from color to weight. Play it safe while still being thoughtful by giving the textile artist in your life a gift card from this beloved Brooklyn craft store, which stocks everything from sashiko thread to hand-dyed yarns you won’t find anywhere else.
Purchase: Brooklyn General Store Gift Card, from $10 on Brooklyn General Store
FOR THE HOUSE AND STUDIO
Carry-all with an ironic touch
Our contender for the perfect studio tote is this heavyweight canvas bag that will never go out of style. Available in four sizes and in six color variants, it’s rugged enough for daily use and offers plenty of room to hold an abundance of tools. You can get it monogrammed, too—all the cool kids are personalizing theirs with snarky messages.
Purchase: Monogrammed Boat and Tote, from $29.95 on L.L. Bea
An Edward Hopper puzzle
With the Whitney Museum show on Edward Hopper currently on view, it’s a great time to work on a jigsaw puzzle featuring his art. Produced by independent publisher (and our favorite puzzle maker) Pomegranate, this one is based on Hopper’s Nighthawks, owned by the Art Institute of Chicago. The 1,000-piece puzzle faithfully reproduces the painting in sturdy, well-cut pieces.
Purchase: Edward Hopper Nighthawks 1000-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle, $21.95 on Pomegranate
Gift wrap that looks like art
This wrapping paper makes any gift look like a painted canvas. Printed on recycled white kraft paper, the design explodes with colorful brushstrokes and is certain to wow your recipient before they even open their gift. Each roll features five feet of 30-inch-wide paper.
Purchase: Busy Day Wrapping Paper Roll, $5.50 on Zakka Joy
Good-looking storage crates
Most artists are cursed with an abundance of supplies and the responsibility of keeping everything organized. Danish retailer Hay makes collapsible, stackable plastic crates in dreamy colors that will hold it all and liven up any studio or home at the same time. The three available sizes can be coordinated for easy customization and fold up flat when they aren’t needed.
Purchase: Colour Crate Collection, $5.60 to $31.20 on Hay
Festive, artist-made napkins
San Francisco artist Clare Rojas is known primarily for her highly graphic paintings inspired by folk art, including quilt work. For this collaboration with Korean artist Jungil Hong, Rojas designed her own functional textiles in the form of striped cotton napkins. Each set of four features four different patterns.
Purchase: Clare Rojas Woven Cotton Dinner Napkins, $150 for four on Artadia
A statement blanket
Birds, a common presence in Camille Henrot’s works, are the star of this eye-catching blanket designed by the French artist. The painterly image features two dramatic fowls amid soothing swathes of orange and blue. The blanket is woven from Geelong lambswool, which boasts a cashmere-like warmth and comfort.
Purchase: Camille Henrot Lambswool Blanket, £720 on House of Voltaire
A really nice, totally plain wall calendar
Whether or not you use a calendar application, having a material one on your studio wall lets you see all your engagements at a glance. Made of heavy recycled stock and backed with recycled chipboard, this USA-made 12-month calendar is nicely laid out. Each page features a clean grid of squares, large enough for multiple reminders, with space at the bottom for a to-do list and notes.
Purchase: 12 Month Wall Calendar 2023, $36 on Red Star Ink
A stained-glass inspired candle
Tom Fruin’s famous water-tower-shaped stained-glass sculptures in Brooklyn look fantastic when you happen to catch the sun gleaming through them. So it’s no surprise that they’d look quite good as candles too. Fruin collaborated with Brooklyn perfumer Joya to create two candles, each featuring a stained-glass design, with scents inspired by day and night.
Purchase: Tom Fruin & Joya Candle, $60 on Joya
A solid studio tape dispenser
Say goodbye to tape dispensers made of ugly, chunky plastic. This metal dispenser, finished with rubber feet, features a smooth-spinning core that holds tapes up to 0.98 inches in width and 3.8 inches in diameter. Its sharp teeth can slice through washi, masking, or drafting tape. Screw holes on the base allow you to fix it to a desk or a wall.
Purchase: PENCO Large Tape Dispenser, $42 on Omoi Zakka
A minimalist clock
Japanese studio Lemnos puts out some of the most beautiful, pared-down clocks on the market. This black-and-white one, made from aluminum, is incredibly quiet, making it an ideal studio mate.
Purchase: Lemnos Mono Clock, $180 on Amazon
. . . or a different kind of timekeeper
We all seem short of time these days, but keeping track of it is more enjoyable with an hourglass. This handmade one is filled with white sand that falls for a full 30 minutes—a handy chunk of time to count down lots of activities, from drawing sprints, say, to an allotted daily email check-in. It comes in a soothing sea green, and best of all, unlike an alarm, it’s totally silent.
Purchase: Hightide 30 Minute Hourglass, $42 on Omoi Zakka
A compact label maker
Reorganize your workspace while having fun. This brightly colored retro-style label maker, which fits in the palm of your hand, embosses tape to create customized text. You can “type” out both uppercase and lowercase letters, and Penco provides tape refills in five colors.
Purchase: Penco Tape Writer, $25 on Hightide Store DTLA
A really good hand cream
Ceramicists in particular appreciate a super-moisturizing hand cream, and many like O’Keeffe’s Working Hands. It’s ultra-moisturizing and contains a bit of paraffin, which forms a protective barrier on the skin. Importantly, the unscented cream is nongreasy and absorbs quickly into the skin, making it an especially good choice for artists who work on paper.
Purchase: O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream, $10.80 for two on Amazon
. . . Or for something more luxurious
For something a touch more special, try Aesop’s Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm. It is similarly rich, nourishing, and non-greasy, but it’s also scented with mandarin rind, rosemary, and cedar to provide an aromatherapy retreat with every use.
Purchase: Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm, $30.00 for 2.6 ounces on Aesop
BOOKS AND SUBSCRIPTIONS
A subscription to a buzzy e-leaflet
The best gift for culture vultures may just be knowledge about niche stuff. Those obsessed with design and style may already be aware of Blackbird Spyplane, a newsletter that details “unbeatable recon” about anything from where to find vintage art tees to lists of designers whose stuff will make your home “maximally pop.” The writing certainly has…its own style, but the intel actually slaps. Boost a friend’s knowhow with a paid subscription, which unlocks the good stuff.
Purchase: Subscription to Blackbird Spyplane, from $5/month on Substack
Rare art books from the Studio Museum in Harlem
The Studio Museum in Harlem, which focuses on Black artists and scholarship about their work, is selling off its publications archive. Its “Into the Archive” sale offers a chance to purchase catalogues and posters from historic exhibitions from 1969 to 2019, including books on Bob Thompson, Faith Ringgold, and Lorna Simpson, at amazing prices. Many of the books are slim, small-run publications that would make perfect stocking stuffers for the book collectors on your list. Stock is limited, so act fast.
Purchase: Books from the “Into the Archive” sale, $10 to $60 on The Studio Museum Store
An indie art book subscription
Since 2006 the small press Primary Information has been publishing or reprinting artists’ books and artists’ writings pertinent to contemporary conversations about art. Send its subscription service to your favorite bookish friend, who will receive all of its 2023 publications, including David Wojnarowicz’s letters to his Parisian lover Jean Pierre Delage between 1979 and 1982.
Purchase: Primary Information Subscription, $100 (domestic) (was $125) until December 31, 2022 on Primary Information
A Criterion Channel subscription
Another subscription streaming service? Well, yes. For filmmakers and non-filmmakers alike, this membership goes deeper than most. First, you get access to more than 1,000 of the expertly curated Criterion Collection films, which focus on classics of film history and contemporary masterpieces of American and world cinema. But you also get lots of the hallmark Criterion bonus material: conversations with critics, stars, and directors about specific films and weekly “film school” deep dives led by film scholars.
Purchase: The Criterion Channel, $99.99 for one year
APPAREL AND ACCESSORIES
Queenly nail polish
One may not necessarily want to dress like the Tudors every day, but you can take a bit of the era’s sartorial tastes with you via this trio of nail polish. Inspired by the Met’s The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England exhibition, the nontoxic colors evoke a bold Renaissance palette.
Purchase: J. Hannah Royal Tudor Nail Polish Set, $56 on the Metropolitan Museum of Art Store
For those who have to spend a lot of time in drafty studios, the right cozy shoes can make a big difference. Birkenstock shearling clogs, which have been riding the normcore wave to a fashion resurgence, are the perfect solution. The real shearling lining is nice and toasty with or without socks, and the trademark cork and latex footbed provides the support needed to prevent tired feet during long art making sessions.
Purchase: Boston Shearling Clogs, $170 on Birkenstock
Romantic ideals-inspired knits
Calling all fans of William Blake, Mary Shelley, and William Wordsworth: the latest collection from Hades, a British craft-focused clothing brand, is inspired by the Romantic movement, and every piece comes with a zine that explores the Romantics. Emblazoned with poetry or illustrations taken from famous verse, the skirts, tops, and scarves are just the thing you’ll want to wear on atmospheric, wintery days.
Purchase: Heaven’s Brink knits, from $134 on Hades
Eye-catching totes and bags
Creative Growth Art Center, the Oakland-based arts studio and community for artists with developmental disabilities—and named one of ARTnews’s 2022 Deciders—teamed up with bag-pros Baggu to put cheery patterns on Baggu’s classic nylon bags and canvas pouches and totes. Whether you’re lugging a laptop or hauling groceries, they’ll brighten the task.
Purchase: BAGGU X Creative Growth Bags, $14–$42 on Baggu
A palette charm
This charm makes for a small but special gift for the artist in your life. Available in sterling silver, yellow gold, rose gold, or white gold, it is shaped like a traditional paint palette with two paint brushes slotted through the hole.
Purchase: Paint Palette Mini Charm, $165 on Helen Ficalora
Actually warm tights
Cold studios make for poor productivity, so stay warm this winter with some thermal tights. Wolford’s are made of a super-fine technical yarn designed to regulate body temperature. They help trap body heat without overheating you, and they’re thin enough to wear under pants if you’d like.
Purchase: Thermo Tights, $90 on Wolford
A Tony Cokes X Britney Spears pullover
Ever saw a Tony Cokes video and thought, “I want a shirt with that phrase on it”? Well, now you can have one featuring a quote from the 24-minute-long testimony Britney Spears gave in the summer of 2021, when she spoke in court against her conservatorship. The Cokes work that includes the quote, titled Free Britney (2022), was on view in the 58th Carnegie International exhibition.
Purchase: Tony Cokes Sweatshirt, $60 on Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Stores
A tribute to Bjork
Who can forget the iconic swan dress that Bjork wore to the 73rd Academy Awards? Two decades since, the bird garment remains an indelible fashion moment, inspiring other garments such as this casual cotton tee, which reinterprets the look with a coy kitty in place of the Icelandic artist.
Purchase: Bjorkitty Ringer Tee, $45 on the Urban Doll
A crop top to start a fight
Do reviews matter? Perfect for headstrong artists or self-deprecating critics, this pink shirt from cult clothing brand Praying went viral after it was spotted on Charli XCX. The sighting led to much online discourse about critics and artists, so in addition to being cute and comfy, it’s a guaranteed conversation starter.
Purchase: Statues Crop Tee, $55 on Praying
Some things are so appreciated we recommend them as gifts every year. Here are three pairings we love:
A set of great brushes
No animals were harmed in the making of our very favorite watercolor brushes, which are springy, sturdy, and excellent for watercolors and gouache. Pick up this set of four assorted synthetic brushes for the painter in your life who deserves an upgrade. Consider pairing with a watercolor paint pan set from Winsor & Newton.
Purchase: Da Vinci CosmoTop Spin Watercolor Brushes, set of 4, $38.77 on Blick; Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Half Pan Sets, $80.87 to $113.40 on Blick
A set of high-end colored pencils
Faber-Castell’s Polychromos oil-based pencils are somewhat harder than wax-based pencils and are wonderfully rich and smooth. The cedar barrels encase richly pigmented 3.8-millimeter leads that are resistant to water, breakage, and smudging. We recommend a gift set like the 24-pencil box, which includes 20 colored pencils, four graphite pencils, a sharpener, and an eraser and arrives in a sophisticated black box. Pair with a package of Fabriano Artistico Extra White hot press watercolor paper, a favorite of artists who work with colored pencils.
Purchase: Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and Sets, $2.65 to $299.00 on Blick; Fabriano Artistico Watercolor Paper, 16 x 20″, Extra White, Hot Press, Single Sheet, $7.26 on Blick
A set of graphite drawing pencils
Know someone who discovered his or her inner sketcher this year? Gift one of our favorite graphite pencil lines in an affordable set. Tombow makes pencils in degrees between a soft 6B to a hard 4H, and they come in sets of 3, 6, or 12 plus an eraser and sharpener. We love these pencils for their reliable performance and durability; the hard cedar wood barrel surrounds a precisely centered core that sharpens cleanly to a fine point. Consider pairing with a spiral-bound sketchbook from Stillman & Birn.
Purchase: Tombow Mono Professional Drawing Pencil Sets, $4.20 to $16.16 on Blick; Stillman & Birn Archival Sketchbooks, Alpha Series, $12.76 to $26.36 on Blick