subscription box

Artful – Spring 2020

I recently subscribed to another crafty box (I know, I know, it’s a problem!) called Artful (https://artful.co.uk/). This is a quarterly box focusing on art materials and encouraging people to experiment and play with them to expand their skill set or just to get more creative. I unwittingly signed up for the first ever box without realising that they were such a new company. I saw an advert on Facebook, who obviously have me all figured out because I was very interested and decided to check out their website. Each box will be created in collaboration with an artist who will have an input into the materials that are included and offer projects to get you started. You can either sign up for the quarterly subscription at £35 a month or the annual subscription at £120 a year. The only difference is that you save £5 per box with the annual option.

Included in the box is:

  • A5 sketchbook
  • Posca pens x4 (green, turquoise, pink, orange)
  • 3H pencil
  • Tombow dual brush pen x2 (grey, black)
  • Tombow hard brush pen
  • Tombow Mono twin marker
  • Eraser
  • Artful magazine

As part of the subscription you also get three free months of premier membership with Skillshare (usually £13 a month or £84 a year). This is good because the first project is a video based tutorial which you can find on Skillshare at the link provided in the magazine. Just something to note; when signing up you have to input your card details and you will be billed in three months time unless you remember to cancel your subscription. I’m happy to sign up because I was planning on having a look at Skillshare (https://www.skillshare.com/) anyway so I will just let mine continue, although I will probably forget and be confused why £84 has been taken out of my account at the end of July!

The magazine is full of inspiration. It starts by outlining the materials included and an interview with the featured artist. This issue it is author and illustrator Mike Lowery. The interview covers his career and inspirations and then continues focusing on the first project. After this there are two more projects to complete using the materials in the box. The rest of the magazine is dedicated features on a wide range of various artists from ceramicists to chefs and everything in between. 

Before starting any of the projects I decided to have a go with each of the materials in my new sketchbook so I could see how they felt to draw with. I started off by writing the name of each pen and then drawing some lines so I could get a feel for how each one flowed. On the following page I tested out the Posca pens, drawing lines and a square of each colour. I was surprised by how fluid they were and I accidentally lifted the page too soon causing two of the colours to run together because they hadn’t dried completely. On the next page I decided to try mixing the materials together. I started by drawing some basic shapes with the Posca pens and then used a variety of the finer pens to draw details over the top. Each one had a different effect over the top of the colour, some of which I liked and some of which I didn’t.

Project one was map making. The video of Mike Lowery featured on Skillshare shows how to create an illustrated map. It’s actually broken down into eight short videos taking you on a step by step guide for how to create your map from researching your chosen location, sketching and colouring your map and finally to adding the details with the Tombow brush pen. I really liked that the video was broken down into short tutorials. It meant that you could watch one and then complete the step before moving on to the next one without having to pause or rewind if you missed something. The longest video is just under seven minutes, so it’s the perfect project to complete in stages if you are a bit short on time. I chose to draw a map of the first time my husband and I went on a cruise. It was a cruise around the Mediterranean/Aegean, although I have called it our Mediterranean Adventure! We had such an amazing time and really enjoyed being able to see the highlights of each place we visited and now we have been once we know there are a few places we would like to return to and explore more thoroughly. Mike suggests that you don’t have to do a map of somewhere you have already been, you could gather information about a place you have been dreaming of visiting and create your own sightseeing wish list in the form of a map. I really like this idea and might have to give it a go next time we are planning a trip…soon I hope! I like the stylised feel of the map because it takes away the pressure of it having to be perfect. The only thing I added to mine was the blue roofs of the Santorini buildings. I used a sharpie for the colour as it just didn’t seem right to have them any other colour. 

Project two and three were both focused on the Posca pens, which lets face it, are the most fun things in the box! Project two was decorating terracotta flower pots. Although they suggest in the magazine that you can pick these up cheaply I didn’t want to go out to get some and I also didn’t want to buy them online as I thought they would take forever to come at the moment, so I phoned my parents and got them to rummage around in their shed to see if they could find any! They did have a few knocking around so they said I could have them and very kindly dropped them off on my doorstep. Don’t worry, we observed all the social distancing rules! The terracotta pots were very easy to draw on and the colours looked so vibrant. Some of the lighter colours needed a couple of coats to get a nice even covering.

Project three was drawing on glass. In the magazine they had mason jars and they got three creatives to make their own designs for inspiration. I didn’t have any mason jars but I did have some old Nutella jars which I was saving because I’m a hoarder and in the words of my wise dad “You never know when you might need it!”. Anyway, I decided to decorate them and now they are done I think they would make great tea light holders. I actually copied one of the the designs from the magazine, the stylised rainbows, because I really like it and I’ve seen loads of things done in this style recently so I wanted to have a go at it myself. 

I had a lot of fun with this box. It was something really different to my usual crafting and gave me the opportunity to try out some new things, some of which I’ve been looking at for a while but was too scared to invest the money in them in case I was rubbish at using them! I’m really intrigued to see what the next box holds. Artful also features a daily drawing challenge on their Instagram (@artfulbox) if you are looking for some prompts to practice your drawing.

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