Let’s have a look at how I keep my art supplies organized.
Benefits of keeping everything organized
For most if not all creative work, it’s beneficial to keep a certain order amongst your supplies and your workspace. I’m one of those people who can’t even work in a messy surrounding (at least not very well), so when I see that the room I’m lacks clean, tidy surfaces, I will often clear up the most important spaces quickly so that I feel I can keep my attention on the creative task right on my desk. This will help me focus by getting rid of other attention-grabbers.
By keeping your supplies organized, you can quickly see if you’re running out of something and take notes to restock. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a project and realizing that you’ve run out of paint or a certain nib. When you’re on a deadline this is even worse. I recommend looking through your drawers every month or every other month to see what supplies will run out soon, and reordering them (if you actually want to continue using them, of course).
When I check my supplies I also frequently find tools that I haven’t really used for a while, so that keeps my art fresh because I will always find something to experiment with. Sometimes you rediscover old friends in a drawer.
Now let’s have a look at how I organize my art supply drawers and workspace.
Small nib boxes
I like these small transparent tool boxes for storing nibs. You can get these in the hardware store for a few $.
Storing paint & ink
I like to keep my different inks and paints in small boxes. I usually have one on my desk where my most used inks are stored, the rest is ordered by brand or type (gouache, watercolor, waterproof inks).
I also keep a stash of empty (glass and plastic) containers for when I mix paints or inks myself.
A place for brushes & pens
I like to collect old tin or paper boxes for storing my pens and crayons, even though these are not as practical for stacking, I like to look at them. I often get inspired by vintage boxes or things made out of natural materials like wood or glass.
I keep the pens and brushes I need every day on my desk in simple jars or tin cans. You can even use an old coffeemaker.
Organizing everything in drawers and shelves
To put away all of those smaller boxes, I have several metal storage drawers that I keep most of my ink boxes, nibs and also some paper in. It’s helpful to keep labels on these. For larger sheets of paper I maintain a bigger paper drawer. The rest of my paints, but also things like cables and misc. tools go into plain black or white boxes (from that Swedish furniture store).
Filing away drafts and documents
I actually have a love for the emblems of bureaucracy (sort of), so I got myself a few boxes that will take hanging file folders. I love these file folders because you can label them, and keep all of the papers and drafts for a particular project in one place.I organize most of my drafts in there, as well as ideas, client projects, and anything that’s not in the computer. For me, these hanging file folders are like supercharged drawers.
Organizing the most important tools on your desk
Of course, tools and supplies that you need each day should preferably stay on your desk. On my desk I keep my favourite pens, a collection of pencils, marker pens and brushes, pen holders (with the nibs already mounted and ready to go), selected inks in a small box, as well as a ruler, eraser, bone folder, scissors, and tape. This way I can reach for my most used tools in an instant.
If you don’t have a designated workspace or only have a desk that’s also used for other things, then try to keep your most important tools in a box. That way you can easily get what you need, and the setup process won’t take away all of your time.
I hope this insight into my organizational habits has been interesting and helpful for you. How do you store and organize your supplies?
P.S. For those of you who want to connect with me on Facebook, I now finally have a Facebook page. Be sure to give me a like and say hello there! :)