I hate spending money on art supplies. I really do. Especially when you're in academic mode and you already own everything your professor requires for the class, but in all the wrong dimensions. (The worst!) Lately, I've been doing a lot of research to help compile a handy list of things worth splurging on and things you can get away with not spending as much money on. As nice as it is to own everything in top quality, sometimes it's just not necessary. And as going to college in America gets more and more expensive, any money you can keep in your pocket is a very good thing! Ultimately, I believe that (if you can afford it up front), it's better to invest in good quality art supplies over buying cheap art supplies that you're going to have to keep replacing. (Also, many art supply stores have seasonal sales just as often as other stores do. And many provide at least some sort of student discount!) But otherwise, here's my little list of things that are truly worth investing in and things that you can find cheaper alternatives for. SAVE: 1. Art Supply Caddy. Storage is such an easy thing to save money on. Maybe you have a tool kit at home or can find a pretty cheap fishing tackle box. I know that if you're like me and definitely a child of the late 80s/early 90s, you probably have that Caboodle box you begged your mom for in the third grade to store all your glitter polishes. Caboodles make good art storage boxes too! 2. Erasers. I know that a lot of teachers suggest you own a pretty wide range of erasers to allow yourself options, but I feel like all you REALLY need are a kneaded eraser and a click eraser. Even then, I feel like the kneaded eraser is probably your most necessary one, especially in drawing classes when you need to adjust values in your chiaroscuro. 3. Paint. Okay, okay. DO splurge on paint quality, but DON'T splurge on a wide variety of colors. Technically, all you really need are fairly large tubes of red, blue, yellow, white, and black. If your teacher insists you have colors outside of that, buy those as well, but don't waste your money on expensive paint sets when you're theoretically only going to need five or six colors. SPLURGE: 1. Brushes. Please consider the quality of your brushes. The bristle quality is really important, and cheaper brushes will shed bristles into your work as you use them. Again, invest in good quality brushes, or else you'll be stuck constantly replacing cheap ones, which will end up costing you a lot more in the long run. 2. Cutting Tools. X-Acto knives, replacement blades, and matting boards might seem like a lot of fuss compared to the standard pair of scissors you have at home, but it makes a world of difference in your work. (I can't be the only one who gets excited about sharp finishes, can I?) Plus, in a majority of the design world, using X-Acto knives is pretty standard, so it's good to get used to it now! 3. Paper. Paper is tricky. I would say if this is sketchbook paper or tracing paper, you should be able to get away with saving a lot of money on those. However, if it's bristol, watercolor, etc. (aka 'finished product' paper), you're going to want to invest in good quality stuff. Acid-free is kind of a must. You don't want to invest a lot of time into paper that won't last very long. So there's six items I would save or splurge on. Do any of you have your own opinions on other mixed medias (ie: graphite/charcoal, canvas, etc.)? Let me know in the comments!