Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough

Organizing Art Supplies

Organizing art supplies is an interesting battle because they are not your typical clutter: old newspapers, stuffed animals, or a stamp collection, these are left to collect dust- they are not functionable items. Instead one uses art supplies such as an easel, drafting table, mannequin, light box, paper collection, fabrics etc. enough where it needs to be easily accessible but not completely exposed all the time because living in the city= small space..we have a relatively small living room.

So I’d like to share some of the ideas for organizing these items that have helped me a lot.

1.  I recommend to get a clear plastic set of drawers- consider clear containers your friend. Itis key because you are able see better because it wont be in a dark drawer. This is a nice one from Target with wheelsImage

Next, label all the drawers preferably typed out because it’s easier to read. I recommend using a P-Touch label maker. They are the best!

  • Sewing Notions
  • Office supplies ( your stapler, 3 ring hole puncher, tape etc.),
  • Technology drawer – extra chargers, memory cards, external harddrives, camera etc

Basically, tailor the rest of the drawers to your personal repertoire – scrap booking, a visuals/ideas drawer, or a calligraphy/letter writing/blank cards drawer

2. Illustration supplies- I think I have found the most convenient as well as space saving method for drawing/watercolor paints. The best part? It’s totally toteable and no having to go searching around your desk for the markers tinbox you have to pry open and search around for the color you are looking for!  If you use multiple mediums together, grab something like this:

Optimal Medium Organizer

The container on top holds my sewing and embroidery thread- I can see the color I need before i even open the box! Emphasis is on the larger container with the labeling ( some of my labeling has fallen off so i have to replace but for a fashion student, I recommend each compartment contain these in order:

  • Drawing: Pencils,erasers, thin tipped Micron pens, and the ***colorless blender markers/percentages of grays markers   

*** this is so you aren’t searching and searching through all the color markers (especially if you have a large set) when you just need a blending one-  I personally use more blenders than the actual markers.

  • Color Pencils: Probably the most cumbersome of the mediums, the colors are endless. Write down the numbers of the particular colors you are using for a certain project. I try to color match my fabrics with media as soon as I get a final fabric line up. TIP: I keep the current color combinations I end up using for collection in a separate smaller pouch closer to the finish because by then, you really need to keep the color consistent and not use variables of the grays and white tones especially- it changes the whole look quite quickly.
  • Markers: Again, keep blenders and grays separate in the drawing compartment- it will save you a headache. 
  • Paints: This is where I store my watercolors that I usually use for skin tones. I also keep the travel paint set that I bought at the Van Gogh museum a couple years ago. My acrylic paints are in another tool box because i use them separately.

3.For items that are lengthy as in rulers, scissors, brushes, I store these items in another vertical item: a mesh metal mail/office supplies divider along with my instruction manuals to my sewing machine, serger, printer etc. Manuals are very easy to gloss over when you dont need it, but if it get misplaced and say you’ve lost that direction manual? it s no turning back ( unless it’s online !) however, sometimes companies now will charge you for a downloadable manual- $9.99. Save yourself from that horrible feeling when something is due and you can’t figure the ridiculous machine out by yourself AND save the $9.99 too.

4.Magazines- ok yes, they can be very inspirational but for an example, I dont know about you but when I saw the VOGUE September issue this year, I was in awe of how thick the magazine was!  My thought was how the heck am i going to store that??!Especially in the fashion realm, it is helpful to keep old magazines to find good figure poses.

How to solve: Flip on a movie or jam out to some music whilst flipping through the magazines and anything that catch your eye- tear the page(s) out. Next you have 2 options:

  • (1)Use a 3 ring binder and some transparent sheet protectors so they are easily viewed as well as stored.
  • (2) If you are really tight on space, just scan all the images and keep an electronic copy instead! Save to external hard drive or an online storage space.

5.Ok, lemme guess you still have some magazines left over that you couldnt part with. Enter the magazine divider! Makes all your favorite issues into like one big book. Voila.

6. Sewing center Tips:

  • Magnets are vital to you, your housemates, and your kitty or doggie’s safety and survival. Also if you sew a lot and haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years, you should probably get one just in case. Needles are a hazard and easy to misplace. Be vigilant – use your magnetic wand with speed andand keep lots of different containers to place needles- a container at the ironing board, one at the sewing machine etc
  • If you live in a small place, investing in a sewing desk i.e. an art and crafts table that is made exactly for sewing really saves time and energy. For $99, you can get a pretty decent expandable sewing desk with specific underneath storage spaces for your sewing machine, serger, and notions. Keeping your sewing machine on top of your desk all the time wastes space and will create clutter. Clutter will prevent you from finishing old projects and tackling projects. Store your machine out of sight and it will be like seeing an old friend every time you take it out.
  • Use a push pin bracelet while sewing- make one or purchase one. I doubt this was made for a push pin but I found it for 99 cents in Walgreens clearance section- Disney’s Cinderella slap bracelet! Looks like it was born to be a push pin bracelet to me ! : )cinderelly

7. Last but most importantly, I want to emphasize proper storage of your artwork. This is important to keep your valuables safe- especially valuables that come straight from your brain! All the time and energy spent on it and then you just throw it in a portfolio bag and let it sit there? Please do yourself a favor and dont do this- my work was in a “waterproof” portfolio bag near the window and they aren’t ruined but were definitely damp. They are now safely stored

– this includes putting every project into some sort of portfolio, no matter how big or small…it may seem like a lot to spend on just store your work but this is your life’s work. No one has ever created what you have in front of you- treasure it. Oh and also know that you dont have to keep every single last blind contour drawing you did in your 1st drawing class. Its ok, just because it’s a big piece of paper doesnt matter it should stay. Use your discretion, get a second opinion sometimes, take a picture of it for cataloging and then CHUCK IT

BEST OPTION: frame your masterpieces! No you dont need to go to the frame store and spend 200$ on a frame with matching matte board border. GoodWill and other thrift stores carry used frames. Sometime they have the glass on frame ( extra score), sometimes they are a little dirty and need to be cleaned up. Sometimes they have bad art in them – or some weird motivational poster that makes zero sense. Take these and brighten them up with a new wood stain, paint the frame to match the painting and/or put your smaller sketches in the smaller picture frames- the most tacky can sometimes be the most fun to transform or put your own intrepretation on it.

And dont forget to get themed/color matching matte board from an art specialty store if you want a more professional look. Extra points if you find the matte board with a cohesive pattern on it!


So these are the somer of pointers I use on a daily basis- I hope that someone may find this somewhat helpful! Art supplies is so rewarding.

I’m still working on the most concise way to store fabric and paper correctly. If anyone has any recommendations on these, please let me know.


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