Gifts for Teen Artists
Provide Encouragement and New Ideas with Your Gifts
As an artist, I recall adults stumbling around to give me the perfect Christmas gift and while I can't vouch for a teen's idea of perfect--who could--I can tell you in retrospect what they probably should have given me.
All the teen artist needs is some encouragement and whether they know it or not--sigh--they look to you and me to get it.
For that reason, Christmas is the perfect time to gift them with inspiration and lead them into areas they might not have considered before--which usually provides a lot of opportunity for gifts.
This list is just a beginning and I hope it sparks some ideas for you on your journey into the unknowable world of a teen artist.
Start with a Good Art Book
Feed their imagination
There are a number of ways to approach purchasing an art book for a teen.
- Find out who their favorite artist is and buy a good quality coffee table type book with lots of color pictures
- Find out wht their favorite style of art to make is and buy an instruction or picture book about it.
- Find out what it is they want to learn more about and purchase a "How-To" book about the subject.
- Find out what part of the world they are interested in and buy a color photograph book about the culture--present or past.
The book above and to the right is one of those small sized books that is packed with great information. Click the image to see what's inside. Perfect size for a teen to carry!
It is 512 pages worth of information about artists, art movements, art styles, art eras...it's a fun book to keep around and learn from.
Supplies Make a Great Gift
First you will need to know what type of art they are making or what type of art they want to make.
Drawing pens, pre-primed art boards, art paper, inks, pastels, charcoal all make great gifts. Hint: Don't buy a pack of pens as a gift without the right paper to use them on. This is a good tip no matter what you are buying them---always make sure they have exactly what they need to use whatever you give them. Art store sales clerks LOVE to help you match it all up correctly---most of them are artists too, and know exactly what works together.
Start with a type of art, such as "Manga", to see what's available that might interest your teen.
Other topics to search for are:
- Computer art
- Digital art
- Graffiti art
- Abstract art
- Pop art
- Street art
- Urban art
Colored pencils are a basic supply need for any artist. They provide a quick way to map out color and shape when sketching. Using colored pencils keeps the moment alive in a way that a black pencil or charcoal stick just can't.
You'll want to purchase colored pencils made by a high-quality pencil manufacturer. Why? Because the leads sharpen without breaking (such as waste to by cheap and deal with broken pencils all the time) and the color range is just fantastic.
Your young artist will be able to express themselves and track what they see, so they can paint the image in the future without losing too much sensory information.
I love Prismacolor pencils because they let me create without worrying about missing something. I enjoy seeing the variety of color combinations. They're always current with what's happening in the world of art, and they've created so many interesting subject specific products, such as this Manga Colored Pencil combination perfect for manga and comics.
Prismacolor just pays attention to the details. That makes them a great partner for artist's young and old.
A Stack of Sketch Pads is Always a Welcome Gift
Try giving them three or four or five sketch pads in different sizes.
Look for the pads that say "Sketch" on them. Another good choice is drawing paper, which is typically (not always) of a higher quality and designed to accept certain types of media such as ink, markers, pencil, pastel.
If you know what types of media the artist uses, then select the pad that names that media on its cover.
If they enjoy working on board or canvas a six-pack or more of each type of product tied up with a bright red bow is always fun to give them.
When You Just Don't Know
If you don't know what the teen artist is drawing these days or you don't know what they are interested in, here is an item that is a fairly safe purchase.
Supply bags help them carry their tools from place to place and even take them on vacation.
Black is always a safe bet but if you've got a child that loves colorful things, find a more lively color or pattern for their messenger bag. Here's what to look for:
- It should be roomy
- It should zip closed so they don't lose anything
- It should have lots of pockets for handy access
- It should have a sturdy strap so they can throw it over a shoulder
- It should not be a duffle or clothes bag.
It is important for every artist to constantly challenge themselves to observe, learn and see outside of what they already know or what is common place to them. That is why you see so many artists traveling, studying and sharing throughout their lives.
Teen artists are no different although their financial and social means may restrict them. So, it is your job as a gift giver to help them along.
Here are some out of the box gift ideas:
- A years membership at the local museum of fine arts.
- Membership in a local arts organization
- Tickets to see a spectacular museum show such as an artist's retrospective or a decorative arts show.
- A gift of travel--doesn't have to be grand and they may protest just because they are a teen and they think they know everything--they will get over it. Something as small as a local art show or gallery tour works. Try to connect the travel with something they like in the art world. For instance, a sci-fi artist might like a trip to NASA. A goth artist might like a trip to Salem, a tour of old, gothy mansions or even entry into a clothing market where retailers purchase items to sell in their stores. A portrait artist might like a trip to the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. I use to love going to the zoo...I loved drawing animals.
- Look for local artist's that teach courses for young people--actually it is usually fine for older teens to join an adult class in most cases just talk it over with the instructor first. The artists usually teach out of their studios--a treat for any young artist is to see how someone accomplished works.
Give Them a Place to Work
Encourage them to take their work seriously by giving them an official space to work in--something dedicated only to their artwork and not meant as a catch-all for clothes or a clear spot on the floor.
If they already have a work space, add to it with work accessories such as:
- attachable lamp/light
- attachable trays
- attachable pen and pencil holders
- hooks, clips and other things that help them hang tools from the table
- rolling carts with drawers for paper and supply storage
The Ultimate Work Space
I still use the drafting table I was given years ago -- it's the perfect work surface for a quick drawing or painting.
The great thing about many of these work tables is that they are portable and can be folded up when not in use.
Sometimes these tables are called hobby tables or art tables. Sometimes they come with a stool or chair--which is a nice added perk to a gift!