The Last Minute Christmas Gift Guide For Starving Artists and Billionaires

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY SPECIAL DAYS

last minute Christmas gift guide 

Firstly Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it, and happy holidays to everyone who celebrates their own special days throughout the next few months. There are so many celebrations at this time of year where people of different faiths and beliefs celebrate their own special days, I just hadn't realised how many!  You can find the list on Wikipedia here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_multinational_festivals_and_holidays

So happy celebrations to everyone. For once I have managed to get all of my Christmas shopping done, apart from the last minute food items that will be needed to sustain a family and guests over the 24-hours that the shops will be closed. 

On Christmas Eve we have a tradition and that tradition is to avoid crowds and stuff the turkey. These are the two missions that myself and my wife have perfected over the past twenty-years. We set the alarm clock for 5:00am, put on whatever clothes have been prepared the night before, and drive to the local supermarket, entering at exactly 5:31am. We then grab whatever we need before the rest of the world wakes up, and then go and have breakfast in the supermarkets restaurant. By 6:58am we're back home having avoided the crowds, and we can get on with Christmas. Job done, no crowds, and a bacon sandwich to boot. It's not that I suffer with OCD, but the timings have been refined to avoid local trains, so there are few people on the roads driving to the station, no one else is stupid enough to go shopping at this wee hour, and the breakfast is freshly cooked. 

This year has been exceptionally busy for my art and next year looks set to be even busier. I have signed up with a curated print on demand site, and will be heading in to a gallery. More details in the New Year, but you can look forward to seeing some exclusive work, and a brand new range of limited edition prints and maybe a few die-cut pieces too. 

I am really excited about creating the limited editions, it’s not something I have done before and quite a few people have been asking me if I can create small editions for some time. I'm currently planning edition numbers and at least two pieces next year will be an edition of one, others works will be between five and one thousand prints. All will be signed. 

What has really stood out this year has been the overwhelming support I have been given through social media. I have met lots of new friends and many of them are exceptional artists who have a wealth of experience in the industry.

The Artists Exchange, my Facebook group where artists promote other artists had around twelve-members this time last year, now we have in excess of 4,000 members and The Artist Hangout which had just 60-members after its first week has now exceeded over 3,500 members. So I would like to sincerely thank all of my admins who do a great job keeping on top of everything.

There are still a few days left so I thought I would produce a last minute gift guide for starving artists and billionaires! If you are struggling with last minute ideas, there will be something for everyone. I have also created some last minute images you can use as gift tags if you really haven't got much time to go out and buy some!

THE ART OF TEACHING ART

This year I have been speaking to a number of people who are involved in delivering the arts in schools, colleges, and even universities and I have been surprised to hear some horrendous stories around lack of funding and in some cases no funding available at all. In some schools, the parents are having to supply art materials for their children to participate in classes at all. The arts are fundamental to having a strong education and there are many reports to back this up.

When I asked what was it like to be involved in arts education all of the answers were not quite what I was expecting, although many still have a passion for the art and always seem to find creative ways to make sure classes continue.

One of the hardest parts of being a teacher is apparently that you need to very often stand up for yourself and your art class. It’s often seen by management as something that isn’t quite so necessary these days, and that was one of the biggest surprises I have heard. To be an art teacher in 2016 not only requires a person to be really passionate about the arts, they need to be creative and grow an extremely thick skin.

Had it have not been for their resilience and determination I am sure some of the classes would have been cancelled completely.

Many also told me that although their arts funding hasn’t dried up completely they are having to do some creative things to keep the arts at the top of their schools agenda. Many are holding art exhibitions and involving the local community, and some have been regularly attending meetings related to the arts to seek additional funding opportunities.

Those who are new to teaching art are finding that they are being continuously asked to cover other classes and duties which many teachers don’t get asked to do. What they are doing though is using the opportunity to talk to the students about art during these other times.

A few of those teachers also said that when they had arrived at new schools, the old arts curriculum had been dragged down so much that it was a constant battle to reinvigorate students and get them engaged again.

While all of this sounds a bit bleak, there were a number who had said that despite the funding pressures they were coming up with creative ways of doing things, and parents were always keen to help.

Some had seen funding levels so low that each student would only be allocated a few dollars or pounds per year for materials, so using what they had to hand was actually something that had helped them to keep classes running. In some cases the results of the students having to be extra creative had been even better than having everything handed on a plate, and some even went as far as to suggest that if they received more funding they would still continue to engage the students in more ways in which they could be creative.

Others had said that it wasn’t always the case that arts in general had been underfunded. Some schools had actually expanded arts provision in after school classes and using performing arts, music, dance, and poetry to create additional subject areas which students could enjoy.

So it seems like the arts are currently a mixed bag in schools and this isn’t specific to any particular region. Many of the teachers I have spoken to came from the USA, but a few from England had also spoke of similar issues. It is a real shame when the arts are underfunded, despite masses of evidence that suggests that people’s lives become more and more enriched by involvement with the arts, but with so many teachers who are determined to stand up to protect their arts programmes, let us hope that they succeed in making sure the arts are seen as projects just as worthy as other curriculum areas. I wish every art teacher luck in pushing the agenda forward, and I am hopeful that other artists will step in too.

funny Christmas gift tags 

GIFT GUIDE

On a lighter note there is still a little time left to grab some last minute bargains but if you are anything like me you will often wonder what on earth do you buy the artist who has everything? So this week I have decided to write down a few ideas so that you can grab a last minute surprise for the artist in your life.

THE STOCKING FILLER

They say that it is the small things that keep you amused, and when looking for secret Santa gifts recently I have been amazed at just what is on offer for very little.

COLOUR WHEEL

I must admit that when I first started out painting on traditional canvas many years ago, mixing colours was always guesswork.

There are a wide range of colour wheels available through Amazon, and you can also buy them from many independent art and craft stores as well as the major art and craft chain stores.
A colour wheel essentially allows you to mix colours like a professional artist. Knowing which colours go with which to create a new colour can save you a lot of money compared to purchasing whole tubes of new colours.

Some colour wheels are produced by the manufacturers of various paints and if you use a matching colour wheel to the paint that you use, you will get more consistent results. Prices on Amazon start at around £2.40 U.K ($2.92 US) and go upwards depending on the quality. Always go for plastic colour wheels wherever you can, they are so much easier to clean than the cardboard offerings.

ARTIST APRON

If you are anything like me no matter how careful you are, the paint gets everywhere. Worry not, artists aprons are not as expensive as you might think, and they offer useful pockets to store brushes and pencils in.

Prices start at around £5 UK on Amazon, and if you are a Prime member, free delivery is also included.

3D PRINTING PEN

If you wish to spend a little more, then a 3D printing pen is a fun way to create some unique items. 3D printing is getting so much more advanced than it was just twelve-months ago, and finally the costs are starting to come down too. Even small 3D printers are becoming affordable.

A 3D printing pen is essentially a manually controlled 3D printer that allows you to draw in 3D. You attach a roll of filament and doodle to your hearts content, using layers to build up a picture.

Prices start from just over £30 UK ($36 U.S) on Amazon, and there are some starter kits which come supplied with extra rolls of filament. The results are interesting, but what you will create will be more aesthetic than functional as the filament once applied to your drawing is still quite brittle when it completely sets. But this is a really fun way to create some unique pieces of art, or spend a few hours creating a prototype of your latest invention.

There are slightly more expensive options that use no heated parts which would be much more suitable for children. Some use mains power, others use batteries, some even come with rechargeable batteries so you won’t run out of power, although you might run out of filament. Best of all, you don’t need to use any complicated CAD software to start producing results.

PRISMACOLOR PENCILS

I must admit that Prismacolor pencils are the best I have ever used, the problem is that they are so expensive. Luckily there always seem to be offers on Amazon and you can currently pick up a set of 72 for £34 U.K ($41 U.S). Not bad considering that the retail price should be £241! 

Some people will suggest that the old Prismacolor pencils were so much better than the new ones, but the thing is, they don’t make them like they used too, but despite this out of the many I have tried, I still absolutely adore them.

My daughter loves these too after trying out a small set that I brought for her a few months ago I might have to buy her some more. For those who don’t know, Prismacolor pencils are truly artist quality, containing much more pigment than cheaper alternatives and produce much more vibrant colours. These are fantastic for adult colouring books and they blend well too.

These are especially ideal when creating artwork on dark backgrounds, and I have to say I was very impressed with my daughter’s artworks using some of my premium dark card-stock. I have to say she is extremely talented and I am trying to convince her that she needs to start selling some of her work, it is really that good and she is only 14. I might be a little biased, but considering her work won her a major art award last year, I think she has certainly got a real future in art she's just not that confident as yet, but I'm sure that will come. 

A quick tip for when you find your expensive pencils keep breaking, place them in the sun for a few hours. Artists quality pencils are notorious for breaking because they tend to be softer than student quality pencils. Placing them in the sun will give them a chance to reform, although you might have to wait a while longer on the Northern Hemisphere, the weather here is a balmy minus two!

BRUSH WASHER

Daler Rowney Simply Brush Washer is made from stainless steel and is a sealed pot that can store your thinners and be used to wash your brushes. It is not too big and bulky and manages to keep in the smells of thinners. The reviews are really good and at £12.92 U.K ($15.71 U.S) including free Prime member delivery, it isn’t as expensive as some of the other brush washers available.

THE GIFT GUIDE

If your budget can stretch even further there are some great value gifts that any artist would love to see under the tree on Christmas day.

BOB ROSS

All you need is a desire to make beautiful things happen on canvas. Bob Ross is a legendary artist whose shows are now available through Bob Ross and on YouTube. There is also a shop on the Bob Ross website where you can purchase some great DVD’s, a brush cleaning system, and the Bob Ross Class in a Box Basic Painting set which comes with instructions to create three projects, Under Pastel Skies, Winter Mist, and Pastel Seascape. These projects are also included on a 90-minute DVD too! The set Contains (firm colors, 1.25 oz. each) Phthalo Blue, Sap Green, Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow, Liquid White, #5 Painting Knife and 1" Landscape Brush. At the time of writing the official site was selling the set for $59.99 U.S (£43.53 U.K) and is a great introduction to these three wonderful projects.

MEMBERSHIP TO THE TATE

If an artist or someone you know loves art and lives near a Tate gallery then you might just want to give them an annual membership to Tate. The membership includes unlimited free admission to all exhibitions and galleries, an exclusive welcome pack designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed, access to members’ rooms at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, invitations to special members events which include talks, tours and extended opening hours, and complimentary subscription to Tate Etc. magazine, free entry for up to six children aged 16 and under, and 10% discount and seasonal offers at all Tate shops.

Prices at the time of writing started from £70 U.K ($85.25 U.S) and you can also add a guest card or add an extra card which allows entry for four people.


If you prefer The Barbican, membership starts at just £50 U.K ($60.84 U.S) which also offers access to the members lounge, unlimited free access to exhibitions, member’s only events, 20% off cinema tickets, and special offers the restaurants at the Barbican, foyer bars, and a discount in the Barbican shop.


BUY FROM A FELLOW ARTIST

The art market can be brutal for artists at times, so why not help a fellow artist to get discovered and buy one of their works. There are so many local and independent artists, many of whom you can connect with through social-media, take a look at my artists spotlight page for some of the best here!

Many artists who rely on selling through print on demand sites will also make their designs available as greetings cards too. Even if you buy a single greetings card it shows that you support local and independent artists, doesn’t cost much, but can make all the difference to an artist who will be encouraged that they have made a sale. It helps them with their search rankings too. All of my artworks are offered as greetings cards and you can find them on my Pixels site which can be found here.

Some artists may reciprocate the gesture and buy something from you too. It is certainly a much better option than buying multi-packs from supermarkets which increase the large stores profits, but do little for the artists who created them. Helping another artist in this way is the best gift you can give to them. It lets them know you care, even if you don’t send them a card. Sales get counted in search results, so this is a double win for the artists.

funny Christmas gift tag ideas 

THE BILLIONAIRES GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS

For some, there is no question about budget and a growing number of companies are appearing online to help the 1% spend their money. If you are in the 1% and you need some help, you can always contact me to help you spend your money.

For others, our budgets won’t quite stretch as far as some of these gift ideas, but the following gift ideas will remain forever on my ultimate wish list.

BELL HELICOPTER

Everyone who knows me will know that I am a bit of an aviation buff, so no list would be complete without making at least a reference to it, and sometimes artists need a helicopter to get from one commission to another.

The Bell 407 (approximately €1,980,000) is a delightful helicopter that is both spacious, highly manoeuvrable, and comes complete with a Rolls Royce 250-C47B/8 turbine FADEC engine.

Its ability to cruise at 133kts/246km/h, not only makes it faster than competitors models, it does so efficiently carrying five passengers. Maybe a few artists can club together to visit art fairs?

You can see the 407 and the entire range of helicopters here.

You’ll need to already have a commercial or private pilot certificate with rotorcraft category/class rating before you go on to at least 40 hours of training and a further 15-hours of ground instruction, and pass an FAA written knowledge test, and pass an oral and practical flight test. Prices vary, but expect to pay around $14,000 U.S (£11518.46 UK) but having done a little flying with small aircraft, I would say it is worth every penny.

Don’t forget that you need to store it when not in use, and it just so happens that when I measured my back garden, the 407 would fit nicely, for a price.

PORSCHE

I am a Jaguar fan myself, but Porsche have created some stunning vehicles over the years. For approximately £50,695 inclusive of Value Added Tax in Britain, you can take ownership of the new Porsche 718 Boxster S.

Totally impractical to take your artwork to exhibitions but it is a great little car for pottering around, turning up at events in, and generally having a good time. The first Porsche to feature a mid-engine flat-four since the 914 which was available in the 1970’s.

Its 2.5 litre engine is the heart of this beast, good for 345 bhp, 310lb/ft, and delivers around 34.9mpg.

The only problem you might find is that the engine sounds remarkably like a Subaru but it is still pleasant. If you want a car with a much more refined engine and one that is a little more suitable for carrying some art around, go for the Jaguar F-Type V6. Now that’s where the smarter money is going to be spent.

SOTHEBYS

It’s not all about Bob Ross starter sets, helicopters, and sports cars, of course you will need some accommodation that provides enough space for your new studio.

Sotheby’s are not only known for high-end art auctions, but the sell real estate too. At the time of writing you could buy a house in Grand Cayman for $39,950,000 and allegedly Grand Cayman is a tax haven for those who are selling lots of art through Fine Art America and Zazzle.

What better way than to relax in a beachfront location overlooking white sandy beaches and the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. This particular George Town residence comes with 8 beds, 8 full baths, 6 partial baths, and covers a staggering 48,000 square feet. On the upside, the temperate climate will certainly reduce the heating bill, you’ll just need to run the AC.

Meanwhile a 6 bed, 6 baths, 2 partial baths, 10,000 square feet property on Boggy Sand Road, Seven Mile Beach will set you back a more modest $8,500,000 and comes complete with an infinity edge swimming pool. That will save you experiencing shark attacks in the tropical waters of the Caribbean, less so from the sharks who live on the island.

You can find out more about these idyllic locations here. 

funny Christmas gift tag ideas to print 

HAVE A DIY CHRISTMAS

Spent too much on that beachfront property? Well, maybe it is time to create some do it yourself presents?

The kids will be out of school and you will be tired of hearing that constant phrase, I’m bored. I am always looking at different mediums to use as an artist and when perusing the interweb, I came across a recipe for foam paint.

All you need is some shaving foam, food colouring, and some PVA glue. Mix all three together and pour in to a piping bag usually used for cake decorating and it produces some lovely effects.

DRIFTWOOD

Whenever I go to the beach or take a walk through the local forest, I pick up driftwood and small pieces of bark. Driftwood tends to be better because it doesn’t make a mess, but either are just fine to create a beautiful brush holder.

Dry out the wood as best you can, drill some small holes in to the wood that do not go all of the way through, insert brushes, and away you go. A natural brush holder that will look like a piece of art itself.

CONFUSED WITH BRUSHES?

I like to keep all of my brushes separate. I have some for acrylics, some for oils, some for watercolours, and so on. Some of the brushes look identical so what I do now is grab a can of spray paint, some masking tape, and plenty of newspaper.

First set down the newspaper on a flat surface in a well ventilated area. Next, wrap masking tape over the bristles and the neck of the brush to just above where the metal band stops. Once you have done this, choose a colour to go with whatever brush and apply a small amount of spray paint to the brush handle.

This makes it so much easier to see which brush is for which medium, and if you use textured paint, it can also help you to grip the brush better too.

So hopefully this list will have inspired you, given you a few ideas, and who knows, maybe you will be able to afford those more luxurious items in the future. If you have any suggestions what to buy an artist as a gift or you have an ultimate wish list of what you would like, then please do leave a comment below or get in touch at mark@beechhousemedia.co.uk and I will cover the best in a future post.

ABOUT M.A

Mark “M.A” Taylor is a UK based artist who has sold his work all around the world. A specialist in digital and traditional abstract and landscapes, his work is also available through more than 150 retail locations across the United States and Canada.

Mark supports other local and international independent artists through this website and through his two large Facebook groups, The Artist Hangout, and the Artists Exchange. Mark also features and promotes artists in his Artists Spotlight section of this website, and through social-media. You can follow him on Facebook here, and on Twitter @beechhouseart

You can see the entire range of Marks art on his Pixels site, and will soon be selling some unique designs on Design by Humans. This blog is also featured on one of the largest newsreader services News360 and you can find details on how to download the app on PC, iOS, and Android, here

Have a truly great Christmas everyone!

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