The 100 best teen art supplies

Art has been a huge part of our family’s life since we began homeschooling in 2012. Unschooling art has taught all of us that there is more to being creative than whether you can correctly replicate a basket of apples on canvas. (Pro tip: I’ve had art on display in MANY gallery shows, including one show where just my work filled the whole gallery, but no, I cannot draw, sketch or paint you a basket of apples.)

That said, realism is a great art form! But collage, and abstract art, and mixed-media work, and surrealism, and any number of other things are also great ways to explore your creative side.

Disclosure: This post has some affiliate links. I only link to things we legitimately use and recommend, so if you see such a link, it's because we really do believe in the book or item!
Too many teenagers, whether in public school or homeschool, get the idea that art is something you are “good” or “not good” at. You can absolutely have specific talents in art. But it’s still art when it isn’t award-winning. Art is the process, not the result, and we have a ton of fun exploring even the media we are truly terrible at.

With that in mind, Sarah and I came up with a list of the 100 best teen art supplies. If you’re looking for a gift for the teenager in your life, these make a great starting place! Almost all of these are things we either use now or used in the past ourselves.

(And if you’d like to see other great gift ideas for unschoolers, especially teen unschoolers, check out our gift guide here!)

Unschool Rules: See the Best Teen Art Supplies

Workspace organization

These supplies can help you organize and display artwork of all kinds.

  1. Kallax – IKEA’s square shelving unit is basically the only shelving we use in our house. At a quick count, I believe we have something like 20 separate Kallaxen (our preferred plural of Kallax) in different sizes. Pairs well with…
  2. Drona! – These fabric bins fit perfectly inside the Kallax squares and can hold a surprisingly large volume of supplies, both in size and weight.
  3. Drafting Table Art & Craft Drawing Desk – Having a good basic workspace is important. We like this one because it doesn’t need a huge space.
  4. US Art Supply Wooden Tripod Display Easel
  5. US Art Supply Coronado French Style Easel with 12″ Drawer
  6. S. Art Supply Beachwood Sketch Box Easel with Divided Storage Compartment
  7. Art Alternatives Marquis Artists Adjustable Desk Box Easel – Most artists have a good easel, and these are great starter ones in a variety of sizes.
  8. Washi Tape Storage Box – I’m not saying washi tape breeds like rabbits in our house or anything, but…
  9. Art Profolio Presentation Book
  10. 24-Inch by 36-Inch Black Student Portfolio – If you have a teen artist, they almost certainly need a portfolio.
  11. LED Artcraft Tracing Light Pad – Sarah bought this for herself with her graduation money. She has used it to trace base shapes that she then expands upon!
  12. Deluxe Teal Geometric Rolling Papercraft Organizer Case
  13. Vencer 5 Drawer Wood Art Storage Box
  14. Blue Hills Studio Wide 8-Drawer Storage Cart
  15. Crafter’s Companion The Ultimate Marker Storage
  16. VonHaus Black 15-Drawer Organizer Cart with Rolling Wheels
  17. Craft Paint Revolving Storage Rack
  18. Everything Mary Rolling Storage Tote
  19. California Home Goods Snapcube Stackable Arts & Crafts Organizer Case
  20. US Art Supply Artist Wood Storage Box with Drawers
  21. ArtBin Transparent Art Supply Storage Box
  22. MyArtscape Paintbrush Holder – Organizer for 15 Long-Handle Brushes
  23. Loew-Cornell Multi-Bin Brush Organizer, 49 Hole
  24. Tinksky Artist Paintbrush Roll-Up Bag
  25. WeiBonD 96-Slot Pencil and Pen Holder
  26. ArtBin Clear Marker Storage
  27. Creative Mark Rue Art Drying Rack – If I could put an item on this list for “magical device to keep your cats from walking on your art,” I would, but barring that, this is the next-best option.

Paper, canvas and more

  1. Legion Paper Tape Binding Watercolor Pad
  2. Fabriano EcoQua Notebooks, Large
  3. Fabriano EcoQua Notebooks, Small – We LOVE Fabriano notebooks. These are just a couple of our favorites; you can search either Fabriano or Fabriano EcoQua to find tons more options.
  4. Strathmore Visual Journals – These make GREAT mixed-media notebooks. I use one as a “collage journal,” which is a ton of fun.
  5. Colore ProVisible Graphite Transfer Artist Paper
  6. Alvin Lightweight White Tracing Paper Roll
  7. Bienfang 20-Yard by 12-Inch Wide Sketching and Tracing Paper Roll – If you want to make something long on paper, this is your best bet.
  8. S. Art Supply 36″ Wide x 6 Yard Long Canvas Roll – The canvas version of the long paper roll above.
  9. Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper Pad
  10. Strathmore Toned Gray Sketch Pad
  11. Artistik Canvas Panels
  12. Daveliou Stretched Canvas

Things that put color on other things

These are the paints, inks, colored pencils and more that we use to add color to our work.

  1. Daler-Rowney Pigmented Water-Resistant Liquid Acrylic Ink Set
  2. Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens – Cannot say enough good things about these. They’re what we use for almost any kind of writing, both artistic and day-to-day. I use them in my planners as well as a whole ton of crafts.
  3. Arteza Acrylic Paint Set, 60 Colors/Tubes
  4. Castle Art Supplies 72 Colored Pencils Set
  5. Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers, 96 Color Set
  6. Woodman Crafts Paint Sticks
  7. Copic Marker Skin-Colored Markers, 6-Pack
  8. Crafts 4 ALL Set of 12 Professional Paint Brushes
  9. Colore Acrylic Paint Set, Set of 12
  10. Colore Watercolor Painting Kit, 24 Colors
  11. AIT Art Fine Detail 11-Brush Set
  12. Jen Manufacturing Poly-Brush Disposable Foam 3″ Brushes, 36 count
  13. Bob Ross Liquid White Oil Paint
  14. Artists’ Grade Gamsol Oil
  15. Plastic Paint Tray Palettes
  16. Acrylic Paint Brush Set, 50 pcs
  17. CONDA Cotton Canvas Painter’s Apron
  18. The Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver
  19. Frjjthchy Stainless Steel Brush Washer – Technically, these last few items KEEP color from getting on other things, but you know what I mean.
  20. Wow! Extra Fine Glitter Set from American Crafts – Let’s hope your teenager can keep this neater than I can.
  21. EasyInk Temporary Tattoo Kit – One of Sarah’s current career explorations is tattoo artistry. I’m hoping to get her this so that she can see how ink goes onto skin in a less… needle-involved fashion.

Unschool Rules: See the Best Teen Art Supplies

Papercrafting

  1. Westcott 12″ Personal Trimmer – A must if you do any kind of paper-crafting.
  2. Fiskars Paper Crafting Bypass Trimmer, 12-Inch
  3. Tonic Studios Tim Holtz 371 Retractable Craft Knife
  4. Bira 2″ inch Oval Lever Action Craft Punch for Paper Crafting
  5. Bira 3.5 inch Star Lever Action Extra Large Craft Punch for Paper Crafting
  6. Bira 2″inch Heart Lever Action Craft Punch for Paper Crafting
  7. Cassette Craft Punch Alphabet+number Set 36 Piece – Punches are awesome! Not only can you use these for traditional paper-crafting, but punched-out heavy cardstock is great to add to mixed-media work too.
  8. AC Cardstock Multicolor Extreme Value Pack
  9. American Crafts DCWV 12″ x 12″ Pastels Textured Cardstock Stack
  10. 12 x 12-inch AC Cardstock Pad by American Crafts
  11. DCWV Corrugated 12 by 12 Paper Pad
  12. ColorBok Cardstock Paper Pad, Delilah
  13. ColorBok Cardstock Paper Pad, Marble
  14. ColorBok Cardstock Paper Pad, Mint Julip – Cardstock is great for a number of art styles, from scrapbooking to mixed-media assemblage. We just happened to like these colors, but you can go wild choosing any size and color you want.
  15. Paper House Productions Paper Crafting Kit, Sun-Drenched – Patterned scrapbooking paper is awesome, and this reminds us of the beach, which we really love.
  16. Perfect Paper Crafting Cutting Mat
  17. Fablossom Paper Starter Kit to Make Paper Flowers
  18. Cactus and Succulent Stencil Templates
  19. We R Memory Keepers Twine for Paper Crafting, Secondary Colors
  20. We R Memory Keepers Twine for Paper Crafting, Neutral Colors
  21. Uxcell Plastic-Handled Scissors for Paper Crafting
  22. 40 Rolls Solid-Colored Washi Tape
  23. 60 Rolls Glitter-Patterned Washi Tape
  24. 48 Rolls Decorative Washi Tape – Remember how I said our washi collection is… ample? These are just a few of the basic styles.
  25. VENCINK Real Bone Folder – If you’re not familiar with papercrafting, this may seem weird. It’s not a folder like a thing you put papers in; it’s a thing that helps you fold paper, especially heavy paper, in neat creases.
  26. Sizzix Big Shot Cutting/Embossing Machine
  27. Silhouette Cameo 3
  28. Cricut Explore Air 2 – This and the Silhouette are great for cutting out specific shapes, including some very complex ones; in fact, you can even create your own art and have it cut. The Explore Air also lets you do custom printing and cutting at the same time. They can all be complicated to learn but once you get the hang of them you can do a ton. Some even cut fabric patterns for you, which is just more than I can deal with but very cool.

All things mixed media

This is a little bit cheating, because you can use literally anything as part of a “mixed-media” piece. These items are ones that especially work well when added to other art.

  1. Sizzix Thinlits Die Set for Mixed Media by Tim Holtz
  2. Tim Holtz Idea-ology Thrift Shop Ephemera Pack for Mixed Media – Laying this down under a thin coat of ink looks amazing!
  3. Aokbean Assorted Vintage Mixed Color Metal Steampunk Charms for Mixed Media
  4. Lindy’s Starburst Gang Spray Set Embossing Powder for Mixed Media
  5. Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz Cling Rubber Stamp Set for Mixed Media
  6. Fiskars 8-Inch Amplify Mixed Media Shears
  7. Andy Skinner Mixed Media Alphabet Spaghetti Stencil
  8. Strathmore Mixed Media Roll of Vellum
  9. Hibery Mixed Set of 30 Antique Vintage Skeleton Keys, for Mixed Media – Sarah went through a period where she collected anything to do with skeleton keys, so finding ways to work them into art was big for us.
  10. 70pcs Vintage-styled Alphabet Rubber Stamps, for Mixed Media
  11. Faber Castell Metallic Texture Kit – Mixed Media Paper Crafting Kit

Just for fun

Because who can’t use more Bob Ross stuff?

  1. Bob Ross Heat Changing Mug
  2. Bob Ross Funko Pop
  3. Bob Ross Happy Trees University T-Shirt

Read more

This post is part of the 100 things post series on iHomeschool Network, where a bunch of my fellow homeschool bloggers share their lists containing, you guessed it, something more than 99 things.

Unschool Rules: 100 Best Teen Art Supplies is part of the iHomeschool Network's 100 Things series.

See other posts in the 100 Things series here!

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