Happy Black Friday

ShoppersNo2_4308, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

While I’m not a big fan of shopping in the “big box” stores, I thought I might help out some folks who might otherwise be stuck this holiday season. (I don’t mind calling it the “holiday season” now that, officially, Thanksgiving is over here in the US.) Today is a special day in the US. It’s called “Black Friday” and it’s marked by people going out, filling up the stores, buying Christmas presents.

For those of you who might be shopping for artists or photographers this year, I thought I would provide some guidance. So, without further ado or fanfare, here are some shopping ideas for those on your list inclined to be on the artistic side.

Gifts for Artists

  • This year, at the East Austin Studio Tour, Yupo paper was very popular, so I might start off with some of that. You can read more about Yupo paper here but basically Yupo is, “a synthetic paper, machine-made in the USA of 100% polypropylene. It is waterproof, stain resistant, and extremely strong and durable. [It] resists tearing and buckling and remains perfectly flat, eliminating the need for soaking, stretching, or taping. Watercolor professionals have found Yupo to be receptive to a variety of aqueous techniques, but it is also ideal for offset printing, silkscreen, debossing, drawing, acrylic painting, and more.” Not to mention, you know, it’s kind of cheap, starting at about $3 a sheet.
  • Moleskine Journals-Perhaps made famous by The Sketchbook Project (heh, probably not) these personal journals come in all shapes and sizes and provide the budding artist, journalist, writer, or traveler with the perfect place to jot down notes, collect ideas, or sketch. You can also doodle in them in case, you know, “sketching” sounds too formal for you. More information on the Moleskines can be found here for the curious. 
  • Moo giftcards-Moo, yes, as in, “the sound a cow makes.” While I’ve had to explain this website to many people multiple times (yes, it’s really called just ‘Moo’ google it if you don’t believe me.”) I’ve never had to explain the quality business cards, postcards, and “half” cards (called “Moo cards” by those in the know) produced by these good folks. The folks at Moo really can produce 100 cards with 100 different pictures on them. They really do make wonderful high quality cards, postcards, stickers, labels, and the like, and they really are that inexpensive to get some. And, yes, their website really is named after the sound a cow makes. Moo business cards are tops in my books for artists, so I’d recommend you get a gift certificate from Moo as a good artist gift if you really don’t know what to get that whacky artist friend of yours who plans on selling homemade hand-painted brick-a-brack over the Internets this holiday season.
  • Watercolor brush with water container-a popular brand is the Koi Water Brush found here but these watercolor brushes with water containers make great gifts for any artist. 
  • Ampersand Art Boards-available in a variety of shapes and sizes, Ampersand Art Boards make wonderful surfaces for artists to work. They come in a variety of surface options but basically have you covered if the artist on your list works in waters, oils, acrylics, pastels, encaustics, or a variety of media. 
  • NuPastel small sets-these are now available in places you might not expect, such as Office Depot stores but NuPasels are used for a variety of illustration purposes as well as by artists when they want something that looks a bit like a soft pastel but it a lot easier to clean up. More information here for the curious. 
  • Watercolor pencil sets-not just for watercolor artists anymore, these versatile pencils can be used in a variety of applications. For those inclined to try life drawing, the watercolor pencils can be added to give a color pop to base charcoal drawings. They are especially fun when combined with the Moleskine journals to create a nice sketchbook combo suitable for travel. 
  • Hake brushes-not just for calligraphy anymore, these versatile natural hair brushes can be used for encaustics, watercolors, or as a general “wash” brush. The bamboo style handles are quite comfortable and the brushes are quite versatile for any artist friend on your list this year. 
  • Shiva sticks-Like oil paint on a stick, these artist sticks are dry to the touch in 24 hours and suitable for oil painters, encaustic work, or others who need a swath of oil in their life. They come in convenient sets and, according to the website “colors can be spread or blended with a brush, knife, or Colorless Blender. The colors are completely compatible and can be blended with any oil paints. Use turpentine to thin. Paintstik colors are self-sealing — just peel off the film before each use. There are no unpleasant odors or fumes, so you can paint virtually anywhere, at any time, and on almost any surface: canvas, paper, wood, plastic, metal, and fabric. Non-toxic and hypo-allergenic.” Sounds good to me. 
  • Gift basket of foam brushes, turpenoid, cleaners, soap, spot remover-What artist does not need these things? This “basket” can easily be made up of items purchased at your local hobby, craft, or art supply store. Extra points if you skip the “basket” and otherwise manage to fit everything into the back of a blank canvas or perhaps even some type of framing kit. 
  • Bamboo frames-What artist does not need a frame? These sustainable frames now come in all shapes, sizes, and, yes, even colors to match the wonderful creations the artist on your list is going to make this holiday season. Check with your local framing supply store, art supplier, or even craft store to find the latest in “green” frames that, well really come in all sorts of colors.

For Photographers on Your List

  • Blurb gift card-nothing screams “I’m a photographer!” like presenting your very own Blurb book. These high quality books come in all shapes and sizes, ranging in price from under $10 to hundreds of dollars for hundreds of pages of Blurb book goodness. While gift cards might not be the most personal item to purchase, supporting the photographer on your list by encouraging a personal book might be just the holiday ticket this year, not to mention you can set your own price.
  • Think Tank Photo Bag in Twill-Nothing screams “I’m a photographer mug me!” quite like a bulky camera bag with a giant “Canon” or “Nikon” logo plastered across the front of it. Luckily, the folks at Think Tank photo have come up with a solution I like to call the “non-camera camera bag.” Called their “Retrospective” line these camera bags offer up a taste of both style and substance, as they don’t look like your grandfather’s butt ugly camera bag yet they somehow hold all of your newfangled DSLR and multiple lenses without making you look like a cluttered ape. 
  • Moo giftcard-Not just for artists, Moo cards allow photographers to hand out their credentials to passers-by without having to break the bank on fancy expensive business cards. 
  • Anything from the Lomo Store-While I’m partial to the shiny new Diana cameras, these “cult of lomography” store folks have plenty to offer up in their gift shop. Most of their items are low-fi and come with a price that doesn’t break the bank, not to mention it’s just a lot of fun in Lomo land.  
  • ICP gift certificate-Likewise, the ICP people have tons of camera-related items including bags, totes, hats, T-shirts, earrings, and, of course, ubercool photo books. Go on, you know you want to look now. 
  • Colored flashlights-While this might not sound like a gift for photographers, the idea of an LED flashlight that spits out 10 different colors is totally spiffy for the “paint with light” photographer crowd. Available in multiple sites around the ‘Net (see ThinkGeek here) these flashlights can be a lot of fun even for those who don’t do long exposure work. 
  • Gorilla pods-Joby’s original sort of tripod like entanglement of legs provides a wonderful second tripod even for those who have one and can act as a great travel tripod, around the house tripod or even iPad tripod (try saying that 10x fast!) Available in a multitude of shapes and sizes, the trusty GorillaPod comes with a pricetag that can’t be beat. These are also available in some camping stores, such as REI and also LLBean as well as most photography outlets and even some “big box” type of stores. 
  • Metallic paper for the inkjet lover out there-The new crop of metallic papers that are suitable for inkjet use would make an excellent gift or even stocking stuffer. Available in a multitude of sizes and even “metallic” colors (such as gold or silver) this might be the perfect gift for that photographer friend who has everything (or thinks he has everything) but has been itching to try something new. 
  • Cute lens cleaning cloth in a can-JillE makes a cute lens cleaning cloth and you can also get one at Amazon.com (see here for details.) These always make great little gifts are are often something photographers don’t buy for themselves. 
  • Monopod with “feet”-harder to describe than it is to look at these monopods are smaller and lighter than tripods yet can be just as handy. I look to use something like this especially when traveling or working indoors where a full-sized tripod might be a bit too clumsy. More of a specialty item, you might have to shop for something like this on-line but it would make for a fun, affordable gift for that photographer friend on your list.

I hope I have given you some shopping ideas for the artist or photographer on your list and I hope you have a great, happy Black Friday even if you are not shopping at all.

Until next time…


  1. Great Grandma Lin
    November 25, 2011 / 9:16 pm

    is this your list for Santa? lol….

  2. Carol
    November 26, 2011 / 7:01 am

    No, not mine personally, just some ideas I had about gifts. I wish though!

  3. john
    November 29, 2011 / 2:24 pm

    great post. thanks for the ideas.

  4. Carol
    December 10, 2011 / 1:06 pm

    Thanks for stopping by, John!

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