Art Supply Emergencies

The best supplies can't fix poor art.
Even if supplies don’t make the artist better, they certainly make the job easier.

You’re out of town and about to meet up with an artist friend. You realize you forgot your art supplies. What do you do?

You check the local directory and look for someplace to go. There’s a Walmart (or a Target) nearby and possibly a hobby store. Budgets are tight, but if they have the right supplies, you might be able to scrape together enough for a basic kit. So… what do you do?

Dro’s Emergency Art Kit

That’s exactly what happened last December when I took a trip down to Tucson before meeting up with my good friend and fellow cartoonist Caleb McCalla. When I went to get my art supplies together for a meet-up and dinner with Caleb, I realized to my horror that I only had a couple of inking pens and a tiny sketchbook in my backpack. I had left the remainder of my Field Kit at home!

I didn’t have a whole lot of spending cash for art supplies, and I didn’t want to re-purchase a whole lot of things I already had at home. So what did I do? Luckily, there was a Walmart that the family needed to stop at to get some food. To my surprise, they’ve really upgraded their art supply selection, at least in the States. I put together on a very small budget the minimum number of tools that I knew I’d end up using.

Clipboards are always useful, and a good ruler is vital when drawing and inking panel borders. As for paper, regular old copy paper would have worked, but I personally prefer bristol board for ink drawings as the ink doesn’t bleed as much. And as far as pencils and pens… I’ve found that your basic cheap BIC mechanical pencils, basic rollerball/felt-tip pens and Sharpie markers work in a pinch.


  • Clipboard – $1
  • Rulers – $3
  • 9″ x 12″ Bristol Board Pad – $6
  • Art Pens/Permanent Markers – $4
  • Pencils/Erasers – $1

Total Budget: $15

In the end, everything turned out great. Caleb and I had a great time and we even jammed and drew a few pieces while we were at it. And all on a bare-bones budget of only $15. So… what would you put together for a bare-minimum art supply kit? Feel free to leave your answer in the comments below!




  1. jenn said:

    I honestly can not imagine going to someplace without my art kit!

    Mind you, mine is fairly simple: a beat up sketchbook and any sort of pen (usually ballpoint) will do.

    If I’m feeling particularly fancy, I’ll take along pencils and wide erasers, and maybe a handful of pens. When working on “finished” art, I do so much these days on the computer that anything less is just sketching, and therefore incredibly minimal in terms of supplies!

    July 11, 2014
    • It’s a startling (and humbling) experience to find yourself without the supplies you need to produce finished art.

      When I decided to meet up with Caleb, I realized I only had enough for basic sketching (a couple pens, a pencil, and my sketchbook). I didn’t have the materials to do any sort of collaborative work with him when we met up. Needless to say, I had a bit of a panic moment! 😀

      July 16, 2014

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