Minimalism: Do I Need to Give Up My Art Supplies?

Minimalism preaches to remove everything unnecessary to open up your life to better experiences. Normally, the unnecessary things are belongings. So what about art supplies that give you experiences? That help you create what you love? Minimalism doesn’t seem to say much about it.

My opinion is that if you have a hobby, then you need supplies. In art it’s tricky because any object can be used as medium. I use anything from scrapbook paper, to sand, to paint, to old baby toys in my art projects. The line is drawn when the amount of art supplies you have are hindering you. If the amount of supplies you have impede you from doing what you love, then you should donate or sell what you have.

I’ve never really had this problem, but I had an experiences similar to it. After a few days holing up in my studio it would be a disaster. Art supplies and papers would be scattered on every single surface. I would shrug, and say the mess is fine. Then I would keep going into my studio planning to create, well, art, only to still have no clear space to work with. I would be forced to spend a long time scrubbing paint stains, putting stuff away, and picking up tiny scraps of paper. Then I would be satisfied with the abundance of space I would now have to create in again.

I imagine people with too many of art supplies have this problem on a chronic basis.

My solution to this is rather simple, but kind of emotional because no artist likes to let go of art supplies. Supplies can be expensive and there is always the lingering thought that you will use absolutely everything someday. That isn’t true 50% of the time.

Ask yourself these questions about if your supplies are functional:

Do these pencils have an eraser? Are they broken in two?
Is this eraser too gross? Does it smear more than erase?
Are these paints old? Do the bottles always leak?
Are the paper scraps too small to work with? Do you really need a box full?
Is the glue not working perfectly?
Are the ink pads not opaque or shiny like they used to be?
Are your paintbrush bristles frayed or permanently crusted?

Ask yourself questions if you think you own too much:

Do you never have any room to do art?
Do you always have some sort of mess or pile?
Are your art supplies organizers crammed to the limit?
Can you never find anything?
Do you not even know what you own?

For the first set of questions, toss any of the items if they aren’t working anymore. You deserve not to use poor art supplies, and also they just take up space.

What I did when I sorted my art studio is go through every drawer. Anything broken was thrown away. If the object was covered in dust or stored away, then I donated it to children’s art groups. I had boxes of paper scraps, and I kept the ones that I liked while donating the rest to the art therapy group at my job. Liquids that were expired were happily tossed because they were frankly gross. I could go on about the process.

It took all day. But the results were amazing. I realized all the supplies I had, and then had fresh ideas of what art to do. Also, I was inspired with the challenge to use everything I own. With stuff like paints, pastels, and pencils, my new rule was to use them up before I would by more.

I highly recommend art studio decluttering, or at least organizing. You swear off from buying more, or at least get inspiration and motivation to be the best artist you can be.



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