A Gift Guide for Artists

In this gift guide for artists, we hope to provide some guidance to choosing a gift for a loved one. At UniversalArtSupplies we pride ourselves on our knowledge and love of Artist’s Materials and by far the easiest way to choose a gift for someone is to call in to us, where we very much enjoy taking you through all the options and ensuring you leave with that perfect gift. However we are aware that this is not always possible and we hope this brief guide will provide you with a few pointers to help.

The guide is aimed as a short set of pointers to those who are feeling their way, it is not meant to be a comprehensive resource.

We will split it into 3 sections: Adult, Teenager/Young Adult & Children

These sections will be further split into the 4 main art mediums: acrylic, oils, watercolour and dry art (drawing/sketching/markers/pastels).

A brief note about the quality of paint before we go on – artist quality and student quality paint have very different price points. In simple terms, this is because artist quality paint uses pure colour pigment and student quality uses imitation or mixed colours.



Very much the universal “one size fits all” answer to starting out. Handling a little like oils but non-toxic and easy to clean they are a favourite for beginners time and again. They are also popular with established artists who like their quick handling and easy clean up.

Basic Beginner: Below are some sets that are easy to use for anyone. Click on the image for more information.











In many ways oils are often considered THE traditional painting medium. We have a huge range, at prices to suit all budgets.

Value Beginner: We have a variety of sets with enough to get anyone started in oil painting. Click on the images below for more information

Mid-range: This is something unique to us – artist’s quality paints at a superb price point. A great buy for any serious painter.









Top End: What can we say here – the highest quality oil painting sets. The type of presents we would love to get ourselves!



Often looked on as being more difficult than Oils or Acrylics, Watercolours have unique advantages – marvelous fresh paintings and not as much kit required. However it is well worth reading the expanded section on different paint qualities. With watercolour you are using very little colour and lots of water and they are (mostly) transparent. This means it is very difficult and can be extremely frustrating trying to produce a satisfactory result using Student colours – they tend to turn to muddy shades when mixing.

Student Quality: Low price point but compromising on colour. Some options below









Artist Quality: With high loads of pure pigments/colours there is no comparison to these paints. Worth noting that with watercolours you are using a lot of water and very little pigment, therefore choosing professional colours actually makes it easier to get results, even for beginners.

Dry Art

This peculiar term covers Drawing, Sketching, Pastels and Markers among others.

Pastels: One of the more difficult mediums but can achieve results like no others. Lots of colours tend to be needed as they can’t be mixed – only blended. Good pastels are expensive as they are difficult to produce, indeed some ranges are still made entirely by hand!

Oil Pastels: Similar to oil paint in that they can be worked and thinned.

Chalk Pastels: Very fine and soft, our ranges of artist chalk pastels are hand made due to how deflect they are. Chalk pastels allow for very vibrant colours with easy blendability.


Sketching: The following sets are some of the ones we know anyone into sketching would like.

Coloured Pencils: These can be a lovely gift option for anyone that enjoys sketching as it adds another element to their drawing. Below are a few options that cover a range of prices. The more expensive ones, once again, have better pigments leading to richer colours. If stuck for a present for an architect or a young person who is keen our colouring you can’t do better than a Polychromos set.



Markers: The range here is limitless – some of our most popular and recommended sets are below. Worth noting however, markers should be used with Marker Paper – using them with ordinary paper leads to them drying up prematurely. We’ve included some links to the correct paper as well.

Water based paint markers:

Posca Set of 60









Alcohol based markers:










Water Soluble Markers:


Marker Paper. Essential for use with markers as mentioned above – stops the markers drying out prematurely.


Supplies every artist always needs more of:

Every artist will always need more brushes and paper. (There’s nothing like painting with some new brushes!) Below are some examples of brushes and paper for the oils, acrylic and watercolour.

Oil and Acrylic Brushes: Worth noting you can use the same type of brush for both, however they must be kept separate.

Watercolour Brushes: There are two main options for watercolour brushes – synthetic and natural haired bristles. Synthetic come in at a lower price point but don’t hold the water as well as a natural haired brush.

Painting Surfaces – Every artist always needs more!

Oil and Acrylic: The best option for this is usually canvas boards or canvases. Canvas boards are cheaper and great for practice work. Canvases are ideal for finished pieces.

Watercolour: One thing to keep in mind when buying watercolour paper is that there are 3 types of surfaces – hot pressed (completely smooth), cold pressed (a slightly rough surface) and Rough (the roughest surface) Watercolour paper also comes in 3 formats: blocks, pads and loose sheets. Below are links to all of them.


Students & Young Adults

Here it depends on their tastes and experiences. Many would be delighted with any of the above. However, if in doubt here are some we find are most popular: