Think, for a second, if you could name one essential product or tool that you could not do your job without.
It’s a tough question, but it’s particularly difficult to answer if your work relies on your creativity and artistic skill. Have you ever thought about what type of oils a famous painter favors, or what kind of plaster works best? Or, perhaps, if sinking money into expensive brushes or paper is even worth it?
Given that prominent artists today are celebrated for their ideas and execution, we’re more likely to pick their brains for their motives and meaning behind their work, rather than their preferred brand of oil pastel, or which household item is integral to their practice. We savor the details of artists’ inspirations and processes, but we rarely know about the traditional art materials and offbeat objects that they love the most. So, we decided to find out.
We asked a smattering of artists—from deft painters and sculptors to new media innovators and conceptual masters—to tell us about their favorite art materials, and how they’ve propelled (and in some cases, even inspired) their practices. While many have clear preferences, others asserted that their work does not rely on a single item, or mentioned objects that you’d never find in a art supply store. Below, we share their responses, ranging from beloved paint tubes to a homemade concoction inspired by the chemical makeup of the human body.