Sketch pads, paints, and pencils are among the basic items many parents are used to picking up when shopping for back-to-school art supplies.
Employees at art stores like Perspectives, Craft Creators, Deltex and Arnim’s Framing Solutions say this is the trend they observe when parents come in to shop.
“Sometimes you see people picking up items for sculpture like clay, but it is not very frequent,” said a Deltex sales representative.
A sales representative at Craft Creators told Newsday that many parents buy supplies during the school term when their children have art projects.
“Back to school is the time for bookstores. Most times they have everything they need on the book list so parents can pick up what they need, all in one go at the bookstores. They may come here from time to time to pick up what they need if they can’t get it at a bookstore. The time for shopping at art stores is normally when school is going on. That’s when children and parents come in a lot. People start coming in and picking up what they need based on the project they are given at school.”
Managing director of Arnim’s Framing Solutions, Lisa Hahn-Ali, attested to this as well. She said, “During the vacation parents come in and they pick up the usual basic stuff like sketch pads, pencils, paints. Most times during the vacation we just get artists coming in here to get supplies rather than students. During the school term I think parents and children come in more. It’s because they tend to just come and get things when they need them.”
However, Arnim’s Framing Solutions does provide back-to-school art packages that covers the supplies on most school booklists. Hahn-Ali said these packages have aligned well with the booklists from Queen's Royal College and other secondary schools like St Francois Girls College and Bishop Anstey High School and primary schools.
Once students reach CSEC level art and above they stop receiving extensive instructions on their booklists. It primarily becomes what project they are working on and how the student chooses to approach it for the specific materials.
She said with the expansion of the art world and non-traditional art such as mixed media, photography, graphic designs, people may not always have to go into an art store. Sometimes students at this level choose to work with graphic arts or photography and these require tools and equipment that you cannot get in an art store. The expanding horizon of art has parents looking at things like laptops, computers, cameras or subscriptions to use certain programmes.
A parent told Newsday when a child studies art it's an investment.
“Art supplies are expensive, especially in TT. It’s not an easy subject for parents to underwrite. Especially if they pass the O level stage. Parents should know with a child doing art it’s a large investment you make for them.”
She said most times by form five and above the versatility of students’ supplies extend in a different direction. Students may start to find themselves shopping in hardware stores for their projects, whether they need certain tools to proceed or they need certain materials that are more commonly available in a hardware store like wood, metal, or resin. For most schools pre CSEC level art requires the same amount of materials. Some schools focus more on an exploration of art so it may vary.
Hahn-Ali said whichever level of art one encounters, students with the guidance of their teachers, know what materials they would need and how to approach their projects appropriately — one simple conclusion everyone can draw.