After 2 years of paniced revision at 3 am, crying over being unable to complete 3 A2 tonal studies in 6 hours and writing the most pretentious piece of arrogant crap you will ever seen in your life (I think they are often called ‘Personal Statements’), thousands of you have just discovered that you will be spending the next 3 years at art college! Whether you’re studying to become a painter, graphic designer or weaver (like me!), there is little information to prepare you for what you actually need when you arrive on the first day. So if, like me 2 years ago, you can’t figure out whether you’ll need 20 sketchbooks or that huge pack of fine-liners, then this, my friends, is the post for you.
A2/3 Cutting Board with a craft knife and rotary cutter
I was required to have these for my work in printed textiles but I swear I could not live without these 3 items in my kit. Seriously, they’re 300x more accurate than scissors and able to cut through though mount-board and card-board. They double up as a great tool for getting in to tough parcels or getting tags off shoes!
Gouache paints are expensive. I mean that they can easily cost £8 for a tiny tube. BUT they are the best paints for any design work. Gouache gives the opacity of acrylic paints yet the ability to blend and bleed like watercolour. As a beginner, I would recommend a basic starter set which normally contains 2 shades of each of the 3 primary colours plus a black and a white- mine cost me about £16 for 8 colours. I use Windsor and Newton brand but all the ones you would find in a good art store are great. NEVER buy paints from any shop other than one that specialises in art supplies- they will be poor quality and you will be wasting your money.
A2 drawing board and Gummed Tape
I only started stretching my paper in 2nd year and now I can’t draw on sheets of paper without stretching them first. Learn how to stretch paper using gummed tape here
Plain folders and notebooks
I seriously love stationary, so this came as a bit of a shock to me when I started my degree. I can ONLY use plain ring-clip folders and notebooks, meaning clear, black or white, since the tutors don’t want the folders or books to detract from the work inside. My advice is to buy plain folders, notebooks and sketchbooks- if your tutors allow you to have colourful/patterned folders you can always decorate them with washi tape. (I decorate everything with washi tape!)
I would highly recommend learning basic skills in Adobe Photoshop. My degree offers classes in using Adobe Photoshop but I am mostly self taught using tutorials online. At my internship, my knowledge of Photoshop was admired by the team and it opened up more opportunities than for those who couldn’t even open the program. As a designer, being well-versed in Photoshop is a vital skill in the digital world and looks professional on a CV. I use Adobe Photoshop CS2 as it is a free (and legal) download, available here