18 Art Studio Essentials: What Stuff Do You Need?

Love to create art? Having your own space to store and display work is a surefire way to take your work to the next level.

Considering the vast array of work you can create in a studio space can become a dilemma when you want to equip space from scratch.

What do you need to outfit an art studio? You will need equipment and materials to organize and create your art studio space. A list of necessary equipment and materials to help you build an art studio follows. The basics are included, as are other more specialized 3D work and painting items.


Art Studio Essentials
Art Studio Essentials

Storage of Different Art Papers

A store of different papers is one of the most obvious items you will need to get started. Drawing paper is a stable material for almost all artists. Even the most committed digital artist occasionally reverts to creating a small sketch or writing a list on a piece of paper occasions.

However, graphite artists, mixed media artists, and painters are all good-quality paper. Having a variety of different types of paper is handy. For example, a small sketchbook is useful for drawing on location. At the same time, textured paper is suitable for mixed media artists.

Collect Old Jars and Containers

At the planning stage of organizing your studio space, it is a good idea to find as many old pots or containers as possible.

Later, there will be put to use storing brushes, pencils, and even buttons for mixed media work.

Anything you want to put to use creatively can be kept in them.

Good Source of Natural Lightning

For some artists working in natural daylight is essential, so having access to natural sunlight can make a big difference to the success of your studio space.

A direct light source will make viewing and photographing work much more comfortable, especially if you produce detailed work.

Colors will appear much clearer under natural daylight conditions, whether you are drawing or painting.

If you prefer to work during the evening or at night, I recommend a good quality table lamp or spotlight fitted with a LED daylight bulb to make working at night much easier.

A good quality adjustable light lets you focus on the light in specific work areas and avoid eye strain in the dark.

Sink and Water Facilities

Whatever the type of artwork you like to produce, having access to a water supply is essential for helping you create artwork and cleaning and maintaining your work areas after you have finished.

In addition to having good access to a sink and water facilities, I recommend the folllowing items, small water containers for holding water and a collection of buckets, as these will help those artists produce 3-dimensional artwork in clay, plaster for paper mache.

Gesso Primer

If you are a painter, it is a good idea to prime the surface of your surface before you begin with a primer like Gesso. Gesso is a versatile medium that can be painted onto various surfaces, including wood, card, and canvas.

Once you prime a surface, it creates a smooth surface onto which you can begin painting.

A good stock of Gesso is advisable if you wish to create a smooth surface to work upon. 

Graphite Pencils

When you are organizing a studio space for the first time, you will be surprised by the cost of materials and equipment. It can quickly mount up.

When you are in the process of sourcing graphite pencils, it's always a good idea to have a good look around for older equipment at the back of cupboards, etc.

This will allow you to save money on a drawing pencil set or buying pencils. Also, it's a good idea to have a mixture of different quality pencils,

which can be used for different purposes.

I have found these pencils excellent for producing high-quality graphite shading and drawing.


It's best to think about the various sizes of brushes and their functions when organizing your paintbrushes.

For example, do you have a supply of cheap household paint brushes that you can use for priming surfaces? It is best to store these separately from good quality painting brushes with a fine tip if you do.

Having a set of glass or plastic containers into which different types and sizes of a paintbrush can be arranged is perfect. This will let you quickly visually check how many different kinds of brushes you have to work with and when you will need to replace them.

Another plain tip for organizing and maintaining your paint brushes is to store them with the brises facing upwards, as this prevents them from being damaged. Click here to find quality paintbrushes.

Another good idea is to have a separate container for damaged brushes. You can fill this with brush restoration liquid.

Craft Table or Drawing Easel

A good quality, durable surface on which you can produce your work is essential.

For some artists having a larger flat working space that allows them to layout materials, and the artwork is an integral part of the work routine. Make sure that the surface you are using is resistant to the surface staining that will result from using different materials, glue, and chemicals. The following post details all available options for drawing with an easel. Click Here. What Is The Best Drawing Easel?

Artist Pallet

As a painter, you will need a variety of surfaces onto which you will be able to compare and mix colors. Here are a few ideas that you may want to try:

Safety glass or plexiglass is an excellent choice to create a simple artist pallet, as it is a cheap material which easily cleaned and won't break if accidentally dropped.

  • Another good choice is a cheap disposable palette paper, which can be thrown away when you have finished painting.
  • Glass or perspex is an excellent option because it can be cleaned quickly in the glass. However, you will need to be aware of sharp edges and careful not to drop them when you paint.
  • If wastage is an issue you want to avoid, then using a stay-wet palette will stop your acrylic paints from drying overnight.
  • Traditional wooden artist pallet is also an option if you want to paint conventionally.
  • A white plastic pallet is an effective way of comparing and mixing colors on a white surface.

Drying Racks

Drying racks allow your artwork to dry undisturbed. A drying space is especially important if you produce a lot of work in sequence in a confined space. A drying rack is useful for an artist who wishes to prepare a surface or is interested in printmaking.

Paint Extender

If you are a struggling artist with limited access to materials and equipment, you will want to make the supplies to have last longer.

Using a paint extender is an excellent way to make the acrylic and oil paint you already have gone further and last longer. Merely add the paint extension mixture to the color you need extending, making it more of that same color. I have found this brand of paint extender to produce excellent results. 

An artist hack you can use is to add PVA glue to acrylic paint, which works well as a paint extender.

Modeling Clay

Air Drying Clay is an excellent material for developing ideas in three dimensions. Air-hardening clay is an excellent choice if you need access to a kiln. They are also known as self-hardening or non-firing clay.


You have a few buckets to hand if useful if you practice techniques such as paper making, ceramics, or sculpture.

They are an effective way of moving water and storing materials such as spent clay, paper mache, and, most importantly, water.

PVA Glue

PVA is an incredibly versatile glue that can seal different surfaces, such as paper, card, fabric, and sculpting materials, such as plaster and wood.

PVA is also excellent as a pouring medium when combined with acrylic paints which creates a good consistency of color if you are interested in creating marbled surfaces with acrylics.

PVA is also excellent for sealing materials like plaster or priming the surface of materials like a hardboard.

Paper Towels or Kitchen Towels

Paper towels are useful everyday items that help maintain your equipment and materials. They are also helpful for cleaning up spillages or for helping you dry your hands after washing.

If you clean your brushes with paper towels, the colors left on the sheets after wiping will provide you with various exciting colors and patterns from which you can draw inspiration if you are interested in abstract patterns.


Having a good selection of sketchpads is a good idea. Small sketchbooks are suitable for carrying on your person, enabling you to record and draw from observation and write notes.

Larger sketchbooks are perfect for compiling ideas for project work and gathering your thoughts in one place.

When buying a sketchpad, think about the purposes for which it is intended. Do you need a spiral-bound book or a sketch pad from which you can tear out pages?


For a professional artist having access to a computer can produce real benefits. Having access to email and the internet will allow me to research the work of others and make the contract if need be.

Scanners and Laptops

Modern digital technology is a must if you want to make a digital record of your artwork.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How to Set up a Small Studio Space at Home

If you have access to a spare room, garage, or converted attic, you can easily convert them into an artist's studio.

Consider a few things if you need help figuring out how to start.

  • Privacy if you want a quiet space into which you can work, away from any nosy parts of your home.
  • Ventilation is essential for using paints, fixatives, or chemicals in a confined space. You have an open window that can ventilate your working space in a significant health and safety consideration.
  • Also, if you have expensive flooring or carpets, you should protect them with a protective layer of covering. This is especially true if you paint with oil or acrylic paint, as this will stain carpets.
  • Consider working in an outside shed or garage if your passion is sculpture or ceramics. This would be big enough to accommodate larger equipment. I know from experience that carving and welding can produce a lot of dust and noise. These activities are best practiced in an environment external to your home.
  • An added advantage to working in a shed is that your artwork can quickly be placed outside when the weather improves.
  • The general rule with Art Studio is the bigger, the better. However, another important consideration that you need to consider is that of a natural light source.

Setting up a Home Art Studio Space

If you are limited by only having access to a small space, you will need to think creatively about how best to utilize the space you have at your disposal. The best advice I can offer is to store equipment and materials vertically.

  • Adding floating shelving onto a wall is an obvious choice for storing equipment in labeled jars and containers. Pencils and paintbrushes are all suitable items you can store in jars organized on shelves.
  • Another excellent space-saving hack that will create additional space in a small art studio is a folding table. These tables can be mounted, attached to a wall, or stored conveniently to the side. The added benefit is that they will not take up space. However, do be careful when placing heavy objects onto them as they tend to collapse under heavy loads.
  • Another good hack is to suspend a piece of wire from one side of your studio to another. This can also peg wet drawings if you need more space to place a drying rack.
  • Artists can use old containers and cases to store scraps of paper collage materials and bits and pieces. Again this can be stored on a shelf or under a table.
  • Buy modular plastic containers. These transparent containers are available in different sizes and will stack together neatly and label.





Ian Walsh is the creator and author of improvedrawing.com and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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What stuff do you need for an art studio?