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Mint’s spring wish list – art supplies and so much more

Make a wish – or make our wish list disappear. (Photo: Aaron Burden / Unsplash)

     We wish for a meaningful and beautiful summer. And with this summer wish list, you could help us achieve it for Mint Artists Guild and our Lucky 13 artists.

      The Lucky 13 will work for us creating paintings for our Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative as well as prints and our first coloring book.  They will mainly work virtually, from their homes this year, because of precautions for covid-19.

     Here are the art supplies we seek for the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program:

  • sketchbooks or journal
  • Stretched canvas – especially 8 x 10 inches or 18 x 24 inches, though any size welcome
  • medium or heavy body acrylic paints, small to medium tubes
  • assorted acrylic paint brushes 
  • brush cleaner
  • varnish for paintings, such as Grumbacher
  • pronto plates for lithography,  8.5 X 11 inches
  • oil based ink
  • brayers – need seven of them
  • Rives printing paper
  • gum arabic
  • easels and table easels, new or used
  • small frames 8 x 10 or 11 x 12 for our Mint prints

These art supplies may be new or gently used.  And here are the other supplies we need this summer and fall:

  • paper towels, 15 rolls
  • hand soap, bars or liquid
  • disinfecting wipes
  • granola bars, dried fruit, trail mix (smaller bags) and other nonperishable snacks that youth ages 14 to 21 will enjoy
  • gift card to Meijer, Costco or supermarkets = artist snacks and treats
  • gift card to local cafes and restaurant, as rewards for our best artists and artist supporters

To arrange a delivery of art supplies, please drop us a line and propose three days and times that work for you.  We ask that you drop them off at the Mint Studios in Palmer Park, right next to the Splash Park.

If you wish to donate money instead of supplies, our spring fundraiser on ioby continues through June 11. Or give a monthly gift on our yearround donor site.

Thanks for your support in making this a beautiful summer!

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Smart affordable ways to have a well-stocked artist space

Take care of your tools if you want them to last. (Photo: Thom Masat / Unsplash)

Artists, this is the season to make more art.  Using this gift of time to create makes sense, and we are here to share ideas on creative projects – as well as how to stock up on art supplies, creatively and cheaply.

Let’s get started.

Know what you need. Create a list of all the supplies that you likely need for the next six to 12 months.  Add extra items to cover the bursts of creativity  and productivity from staying at home during coronavirus.  Then separate the list into must haves and wish you could buy.  Unless you have a rich uncle or patron, now is the time to focus on the must haves.

Buy together.  Identify a purchasing partner – an artist who works in your medium who you like and respect. Or join an artists group. If you join forces with three painters, buying canvases in bulk makes sense.  This works equally well for jewelry artists, photographers and others to share raw materials or finishing supplies.

Go to bargain hunter buying places. Go to garage sales or head to Arts & Scraps, once it reopens, on Detroit’s East Side. Or if you’re close to Ann Arbor, go to SCRAP Creative Reuse. Estate sales work, and sites such as allows you to search to see if they offer the supplies you need most.  CraigsList Free and junk yards may yield great items for sculpture, frames and more.  Just practice safety online and when you meet in person to collect supplies. Also: Look for artist-to-artist sales. These take place sporadically for artists to sell off extra or unused supplies and creative work.

Care for your tools. Buy a better quality and then take a little time to maintain. “Well kept art supplies can last for years,” according to a post republished in FineArtTips. So carefully wash your paint brushes and pat them dry after each use. Do the same with other creative equipment. 

Track your spending.   This can be as simple as a shoe box for all receipts or more high tech: a digital  log of every nickel spent on supplies, frames, packing materials and more. These are business expenses and they may be tax deductible. Read more about artists’ tax deductions in this post.

Set aside funds.  Each time you sell a piece of your creative work, place 20 percent of the proceeds – more if your material costs are high – in a special bank or credit union account to pay for supplies and equipment.  This practice will provide funds to replace canvases or silver wire or whatever runs low.

If you still cannot buy all your supplies, you may need to borrow money – from a family member or close friend – to stock your creativity. Just be clear about when and how you will repay this.

Perhaps your favorite aunt or pal will be glad to receive a painting or pendant instead of cash for a loan.

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Grow your “Frugal February,” emerging artists

Get creative with recycling and make new items more affordably. (Photo: Bernard Hermant / Unsplash)

Artists can be impulsive, extravagant individuals, and that may lead to slim savings or piles of credit card debts.  Yet many dream of traveling to new cities or countries for inspiration, creative projects or study abroad.

Perhaps it’s time to embrace Frugal February, a smart concept aimed at cutting expenses and lowering credit card debts piled up over the December holidays.  Because February is a short month – and often incredibly cold – it’s easier to stay inside and save money by cooking and eating at home, money management experts say.  

“It’s fun, rather than a struggle,” Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert with the website NerdWallet told the New York Times

Start by tracking all your spending for at least a week. Create a note in your phone, or use a spreadsheet or a simple money management app. It’s important to start with an understanding of how and where you spend money, with as much specifics as possible.

Then think of a goal – something worth saving for – that you need money to achieve.  This goal, whether it’s a big vacation in 2021 or a new bicycle or oil pastels by summer, will help you with willpower to cut back and save more in the month ahead.

Here’s five ways for emerging artists to save during Frugal February:

Find it for free. Collect items from Craigslist free or Freecycle. Seek supplies for your upcoming creative projects on these sites or post what you are seeking and ask people to donate supplies.

Skip the latte. Or skip all dining and drinking out of the home, unless your favorite Aunt is treating you. Make coffee and lunch at home this month. Buy yourself a really lovely thermos or lunch box, from a thrift store or resale shop, of course. If you forgo 20 lattes that would have cost $4.50 each, you will have an extra $90 to spend on summer vacation or other goals.

Rollback spending. If you usually spend $100 a week on food out and fun, scale it back to $65 – just for February. Choose a couple of categories where you will reduce your spending, creatively.

Recycle art materials. Create a swap with other emerging artists to trade art supplies. Or get out the gesso and reuse a few of your own canvases. This trick will save you money and it’s a great habit to establish.

Games and money teams.  Gather a team of creative friends who want to save money and get together to discuss your Frugal February ideas and successes.  And develop a game night or other creative activities at home on  weekends, so you’re not tempted to spend money on entertainment or dining.

Share your progress and plans on social media, too, and engage more friends in your money goals, suggests Palmer of NerdWallet.

If you want more help with Frugal February, read these posts from DIY Playbook and 29Secrets  –and review more money-saving ideas from NerdWallet.

Watch for money management ideas and financial planning strategies for emerging creatives about once a month on the Mint blog. 

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Summertime wish list: Give us mosaics and gift cards and more!

We wish for art supplies. Photo: MorgueFile

Mint is getting ready for a busy summer of art making – and free arts and crafts in Palmer Park.
And as they say it takes a village, so we are asking our village to give us some supplies.  These all will be used by our teen artists for creative community art projects.

Here’s our summertime wish list:

Art supplies:

  • Artist sketch pads
  • Canvases 8 x 10 or 18 x 24, or other sizes
  • Mosaic materials – high quality hot-fired smaller tiles in blues, purple, white, yellow, green, orange. (We have plenty of reds)
  • child-friendly, washable markers for arts and crafts
  • Acrylic paint mediums and gels
  • Paint brushes, variety of sizes, new or gently used
  • A glue gun

Other needs: 

  • Rolls of paper towels and tissues, for our studio / summer workers and apprentices
  • Digital camera, prefer one with video capabilities
  • A coat rack
  • Sturdy, heavy duty table (for artists to create on)
  • Gift cards to Meijer, Kroger, Costco, Blick, BJs – to buy snacks, art supplies, cleaning supplies, miscellany
  • Gently used socks – for creating sock puppets
  • Two or three old dictionaries  – for community art projects

You may drop any of these off at the Mint tent at the Jazzin at the Vanity on June 29-30.  Or arrange a time to deliver this to our studio in Palmer Park by contacting us.

If it’s easier to donate money, please give us some today!  And look for details on our Wednesday afternoon free arts and crafts in Palmer Park, starting in July. Open to all!

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When I feel like I have nothing, I can give my son the gift of creativity, the gift of imagination, the gift of spending a happy hour painting cardboard on the porch.

Alison Stine, writing in The Nation about why art matters, even when you’re poor. She buys art supplies even when this freelance writer cannot afford much else.