💵 All my art supplies cost me double.

published6 months ago
2 min read

Last week I went into my local art supply store, and I came out with a bag full of Posca art markers. They were on sale, but I probably dropped close to 40 bucks.

I've never used these particular pens before. They’re paint markers and seem to work like acrylic or gouache because they're opaque. I know a certain amount about using opaque materials but I don't really know how people use these pens or what I'm gonna do with them either.

I buy a lot of art supplies like this — on impulse.

Ideas swirl in my head when I see them on the shelf and scrape them into my basket. But when I get home, the desire to make art has been sated by my buying spree so they sit in a bag on a shelf or in a box or a drawer until I get around to using them.

That’s because I overlook a rule of economics. That many things have two prices.

First there’s the price you pay at the store. I buy a fresh chicken at the supermarket. It costs me $8.16 in cash.

But before I can eat that chicken, I have to pay the second price. I have to cook it.

That may take an hour. So I have to pay a price in time too. If I had an hourly rate, I could figure out that cost in cash too.

If I went to a restaurant, that second price would be factored into the first price. When I got the check, I’d pay for the chicken plus the chef’s time.

If I rent a movie, I have to spend two hours watching it, two hours I’ll never get back. If I buy a book, I have to pay the second price by investing time in reading it. If I don’t read the book, I might as well have burnt the $20.

Back to my markers. If I want to turn those markers into art and into a fun and fulfilling experience for me, I’ll have to pay the second price.

I’ll have to spend some time to learn to use them, maybe by watching some videos or asking some friends. Then I’ll have to practice using them until I really understand the lessons. I’ll have to experiment. And I’ll probably make a lot of crappy art in the process. So the price could expand to include other materials too, like paper.

So here’s a thought.

What if we try not spending so much to pay the first price and change our way of living to focus on on paying the second price. Put away your credit cards and play those dusty board games in the garage, wear those unworn shoes, and break open all those art supplies drying up on the shelf .

Let’s pay the second price — and make some art.

Your pal,


P.S. Some people tell me that they haven't signed up for my Tuesday essay, Studio Notebook, because they don't have the time to read it. I wonder what they're doing instead? Curing cancer? Solving climate change? Playing Wordle? My sense is that they don't know what they're missing.They think, "Oh great, more email. Just what I need." But what they don't realize is that this particular, wafer-thin email contains such incredible value that it will rock their world, inspire their creativity, improve their vocabulary and possibly improve their Wordling. I know you're not one of these people with minds closed shut. That's why I think you'll enjoy reading, absolutely free, this week's Studio Notebook essay (normally priced at ~$1.53@). I won't even email it to you, You can just click here and read it yourself. Then, once your world stops rocking, sign up for a subscription and get the next one sent right to you.

Danny Gregory: I help you make art again

Each Friday, I send advice, ideas, stories and tips to 20K creative people like you. Author of 13 best-selling books on creativity. Founder of Sketchbook Skool w 50k+ students

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