Whether they’re putting in hours in the studio or using their cameras and brushes to create in the wild, the artists in our lives are always seeking inspiration. While it might seem difficult to wow these creatives during the day-to-day, an artist-approved gift is a great place to start.
With so many artistic disciplines to master, finding the perfect colored pencils or the best digital camera can seem daunting. So, we chatted with several artists who shared standout gifts they’ve received in the past along with some gifts that are on their wish list.
Beyond receiving material goods to boost their craft and home decor to personalize their space, artists emphasize the worth of support and encouragement from family and friends.
“The best gift I’ve ever received,” artist Lauren Cohen says, “was my parents giving me the support to be able to have my practice and continue doing my career.”
But who doesn’t want a little something under the tree in addition to some TLC? That’s why we rounded up the best gifts for artists, from artist-approved crafting supplies to books for inspiration.
To quickly jump to the category you’re looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all of our best gifts for artists.
Art supplies gifts
This year, artists have been crafting and creating blankets out of fleece and yarn. For artists who love to knit and crochet blankets, JOANN editorial director Valerie Ott recommends this yarn that is made specifically for — you guessed it — blankets. As someone who knits herself, she says, “I like the chunky yarns because they work up a lot quicker for me.”
Other than supporting the artists in your life with words of affirmation, providing them with art supplies that can fuel their artistic aspirations is another great way to encourage their creativity. This Italian-made paper “can take [any medium], so it can take watercolor, it can take charcoal, it can take marker,” Mike Kennedy, VP and GMM of Craft & Seasonal at JOANN, says. He adds that the versatility of the paper allows the artist “to change from one activity to another as they just flip the page instead of being locked into painting on this canvas or painting on this surface.”
Everyone deserves a little color in their life, and these colored pencils are artist-approved. “The best gift I’ve given to an artist was a brand new pack of Prismacolor colored pencils,” art educator and interdisciplinary artist Lindsay Johnson says. “When my student opened the wrapping paper, their eyes grew wide, they gushed with appreciation, and rushed home giddily. It was adorable.”
Whether your family has a matching holiday pajama tradition or the artist you’re shopping for is hoping to stay warm this winter, this custom pajama sewing pattern can add new life to their pajama drawer. “I was pretty proud of the handmade PJ bottoms I made for my girls last year, even though they didn’t fit exactly right,” Ott says about the first pieces of apparel she had ever sewn. While she used a flannel fabric, one reviewer found success with linen.
For the artist who is hoping to dive into learning needlecraft techniques, you can gift this beginner kit that includes all the tools to stitch their own tapestry. The kit includes a pre-printed canvas, a needle, detailed instructions and skeins of thread.
What better way to beat writer’s block than crafting sentences on handmade paper? New York City-based art curator Savona Bailey-McClain recommends this Japanese paper bundle for “writers needing inspiration.” The bundle includes 27 sheets of paper in three distinct sizes.
As experts in the craft supply sphere, Ott and Kennedy both recommend Posca markers. “They’re more like a paint pen in a way,” Ott says and shares many artists use them on canvas, paper and even shoes.
Whether the artist you’re shopping for loves to sketch or prefers pencil drawings, this pencil set is artist-approved and includes 22 pencils of different hardness grades. The New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake loves these pencils and says they are “fantastic,” even though Mitsubishi is primarily “known as a car company.”
We all know someone who loves to get cozy, and taking up crocheting or knitting is a great way to combine a passion with a preference. Johnson has recently taken up knitting and plans “to graduate from scarves to hats in 2023.” She recommends gifting yarn from Brooklyn Tweed, which she says “fully sources, spins and dyes yarn right here in America.” This specific yarn is soft, durable and available in 13 colors, according to the brand.
A trend that Ott has noticed is that “fine artists are sometimes — especially in more urban areas — interested in the fashion side [of art],” she says. “Like how can I augment hats, totes, purses, shoes and make them look completely custom?” For these artistic endeavors, she recommends using Angelus paints, which are ideal for painting shoes, jackets, purses and furniture, according to the brand.
While this adorable penguin crochet kit might be marketed to children, it is a clear kit for people of all ages hoping to learn to crochet. I purchased a matching kit with my 12-year-old sister, so we could create the adorable critters side-by-side. The kit includes all the tools needed to master basic crochet skills — yarn, a crochet hook, and stuffing, to name a few — along with easy-to-follow instructional videos.
Shopping for someone who loves to live in the moment? This water painting board will allow them to channel their creativity in an ephemeral manner. To create, just add water. The painting will disappear as the water dries.
If you’re looking for a tried-and-true marker set, Johnson says these markers “are hugely popular for people who love to draw.” This starter set includes a variation of markers, pens, paper and a technique booklet for artists hoping to improve their craft.
Sometimes receiving new art supplies can be a source of artistic inspiration. In the case of Cohen, receiving clay as a gift was a source of creativity. This starter bundle includes air-dry clay, paint, pottery tools and more for ceramists of all levels.
A woman of many disciplines, Johnson is also growing her ceramics practice and loves DiamondCore’s clay tools. You can gift the artist in your life this explorer carver set, so they can join Johnson in learning sgraffito, “which is scratching into layers of colored clay to reveal contrasting images and patterns,” in her own words.
Tech gifts for artists
Gen-Z is bringing low-tech cameras back, and this one-time-use camera from Fujifilm is the ultimate pick. For just $15, photographers of all levels can snap 27 photos that will be revealed upon development. The little device shines because of its 10-foot built-in flash.
“As an educator and life-long learner,” Johnson says. “I also encourage people to consider giving gift certificates to take classes at local art studios or within the continuing education department at local colleges.” However, not every community has these local opportunities for artists, so you can gift a subscription to MasterClass, which starts at $10 a month and includes access to more than 180 classes from icons including Petra Collins, Futura and Anna Wintour.
This rotating productivity timer can automatically set timers for 5-, 15-, 30-, 45- and 60-minute increments. “If you find it helpful to be like, ‘Okay, I just needed to do this, concentrate for 20 minutes,’” Flake says, “Those are helpful and nice.”
After perfecting their chef-d’œuvre for hours, the artist you’re shopping for is likely in want of a massage. This Shop TODAY award-winning massage gun includes 10 attachments and can switch between seven speeds for the ultimate at-home massage.
Looking for gifts for digital artists? An iPad paired with an Apple Pencil is the gift of endless opportunity. With creative apps, such as Procreate and Adobe Photoshop, at the tips of their fingers, artists can create across various mediums on a singular device.
If you’re shopping for a budding artist, providing them with a key tool in their practice can be a core memory that they remember decades later. For fine artist Tamara Staples, the best gift she has ever received is her first camera. This expert-approved model from Canon includes a DC III lens, 32GB memory card, table tripod and a cleaning kit, so an aspiring photographer can dive into all the basics of a DSLR.
Plus, “This camera is capable of shooting 1080p video and has Wi-Fi so that you can send photos wirelessly and control the camera remotely,” New York City-based fashion photographer Eugene Manning told Shop TODAY in a previous interview.
Gift cards for artists
“When I think about gifts for artists,” Flake says, “I think the thing that can be tricky is everybody has very specific preferences in terms of art supplies.” That’s why she appreciates receiving gift cards to pick out her own supplies. Blick has more than 110,000 offerings for artists of all disciplines and levels.
Flake also loves Artist & Craftsman Supply, which is one of the largest art material suppliers in the United States and a 100% employee-owned company. You can purchase gift cards from the company between $10 and $1,000.
Not only does Joann Fabrics offer teacher discounts, but it also sells gift cards. The retailer sells fabric, sewing supplies, baking and kitchen must-haves along with other crafting essentials.
A classic crafting destination, Michaels offers gift cards of up to $100 value. Along with a slew of crafting kits, the retailer carries jewelry supplies, yarn and more.
Books struck a chord with the artistic experts we spoke to for this article. If you’re not sure what book is on their TBR list, consider gifting the artist in your life a Bookshop gift card. The retailer connects readers with independent booksellers and “every purchase on the site financially supports independent bookstores,” according to the brand, so your gift card will support creatives across the nation.
We're here to let you in on a secret — the artist in your life would love a weekend away to work on their next project. "What I secretly wish somebody would give me is a weekend away somewhere," Flake says. "It doesn’t have to be nice, literally a motel in a suburban strip mall. Just somewhere where I could have 48 hours to just concentrate on stuff would be fantastic." But just like art supplies, every artist has different preferences, so an Airbnb gift card will give them the power of choice and access to rentals in more than 100,000 cities.
Books for artists
“The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles,” by Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne
For Flake, Pressfield and Coyne’s book "The War of Art" has “been very helpful” in the development of her craft. “It’s basically for people like myself who struggle with procrastination and fear,” she shared.
The text grapples with thought-provoking questions, such as “What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?” and “Why is there a naysayer within?”
While Flake has published cartoons in publications, such as The New Yorker, MAD Magazine and The New Statesman, among others, she continues to turn to books for inspiration. She recommends gifting this book, which includes creative exercises and assignments for cartoonists of all ages.
Who better to learn from about writing than one of the masters of the craft, Stephen King? This book — another staple on Flake’s gifting list — breaks down the habits and convictions that contributed to King’s writing.
For “fledgling artists” and anyone who “wants to stoke their creative side,” Staples recommends Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way.” “It really taps into your creative side and gets into what creativity is all about and how to stoke that,” she says.
Flake loves to gift Lynda Berry’s books to the other artists in her life. This quasi-graphic memoir and how-to book explores the question “Do you wish you could draw?” It is one of 13 texts from the artist and author.
Staples sees Reuben as a genius who “guides people on their artistic endeavors.” She has his book "The Creative ACT" on her wish list and says, “It’s for creatives and a way of looking at creativity that will really resonate with any artist.”
Clothing and accessory gifts for artists
The creative process can be messy. And when we say messy, we mean paint everywhere, clay strewn about and colored pencils on the floor. That’s why the artist in your life might enjoy a functional and comfortable smock. This option from Blick has two pockets and a cross-back-style design for easy wearing.
At Shop TODAY, we love functional fashion pieces. These double-knee painter’s pants from Dickies have a generous fit for increased mobility and double the amount of fabric at the knee for all the kneeling that creativity requires. Artists love their tools, and these pants have nine pockets, so they’ll never run out of storage.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art partnered with Timex to create a line of five watches inspired by the museum’s collection. This option features Vincent van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat” for artists who love to wear art everywhere. The watch is scratch-resistant, according to the brand, and features a leather strap.
Home decor gifts for artists
One of the best stocking stuffers for artists, these art-themed matches feature classic paintings, like Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” and more playful images like animals participating in a boat race and a bear riding a bicycle.
Created by artist Melike Carr, this ceramic dome pays homage to World Space Week, which takes place in October. This meticulously sculpted dome comes with a battery-operated flameless candle to create immaculate vibes in your workspace.
Whether you’re shopping for an architect or interior designer or just someone looking for “home decor where you just want to be slightly unique,” Bailey-McClain recommends this handwoven pillow cover. Since the cover features hand woven textile, you should expect slight variations in the pillow, according to the brand. While some might regard these variations as defects, Coterie sees them as a source of uniqueness.
Zafferano finds its origins in Italy where founder and lead designer Federico de Majo took over his father’s glassmaking factory, which created glassware using ancient glass-blowing techniques originating on the Italian island of Murano. When founding Zafferano, he brought these techniques to the table. This set of four glasses features some of de Majo’s techniques and highlights the four seasons in the hand-crafted pieces of colored glass that are applied to the glassware.
Art museum gifts
Sometimes inspiration can stem from an eye-catching journal, and this option from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art features Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky’s piece "Untitled Improvisation III." This is one of 134 works by the artist in the museum’s collection.
“Art museum gift shops are wonderful places to buy gifts,” Johnson says. “There is something for everyone: you can find prints, jewelry, books, clothing, housewares, games and so much more.”
Based in Chicago, Johnson says her favorite museum shop is at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This artistic option from the gift store includes 200 steel balls on a magnetic base, so the creative can constantly reimagine their desk setup.
The saying goes, “Life imitates art,” and this expression mobile has the facial features and the mobility to capture the motion of life. New York’s Museum of Modern Art recommends placing this home decoration over a crib or in your workspace.
A timeless, elegant pick, these Tiffany stained-glass coasters from The Met gift shop are crafted with glass and felt backing. Even if the artist you’re shopping for hasn’t visited The Met, they can have a piece of it in their home.
Inspired by mid-century modern art, these hypoallergenic earrings are one of many eye-catching jewelry options in the National Gallery of Art’s gift shop. The earrings come in a gift box to make your gift-wrapping session easier.
Meet the experts
- Savona Bailey-McClain is the executive director and chief curator of the West Harlem Art Fund. She specializes in public art and aims to bring installations to open, public spaces to make people feel less intimidated by art.
- Lauren Cohen practices her craft by creating paintings, sculptures, graphic novels and comedic performances. She takes inspiration from history and humor, notably from her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, and household food, which she often anthropomorphizes in sculptural creations.
- Emily Flake is a cartoonist for The New Yorker, illustrator, writer and performer. She wrote and illustrated the card deck and book "Joke in a Box: How to Write and Draw Jokes."
- Lindsay Johnson is an art educator and interdisciplinary artist. She finds her personal art practice captures figurative and dreamlike stories and images. “If I can’t stop thinking about something, I know I have to make art about it!” she says.
- Mike Kennedy is VP and GMM of Craft & Seasonal merchandise at JOANN. He takes inspiration from his wife and 7-year-old son who are always creating, especially during the holidays.
- Valerie Ott is the Editorial Director at JOANN. Aside from guiding the editorial calendar and many creative teams at JOANN, she crafts, knits and sews in her free time.
- Tamara Staples is a fine artist who is currently creating video and photography. Along with being a commercial photographer, she is currently creating video projects with roving light. You can catch her work at The Other Art Fair in Brooklyn.