Using a Tool Box to Store Your Art Supplies

Using a Toolbox to Store Your Art Supplies

For years, I have been storing my art supplies in tool boxes that you can get from any hardware store. They aren’t just for your standard hammers and wrenches folks! I started using them in college when I had to transport my materials back and forth all the time. Because art supplies tend to be a collection of a lot of small things, having them all in one container is really helpful. Most tool boxes available are lightweight, have a handle, and are made to be pretty durable. They also usually come with a variety of compartments that are be useful for various small accessories and miscellaneous items.

Tool Boxes Are For Tools of Any Kind
I mainly use my tool boxes to store paint supplies. The bottom or main compartment of the box allows you to store all your paint tubes while the removable tray can hold paintbrushes, brush cleaner, gloves, a small amount of paper towel, pencils, etc.

If you are the type of artist that likes to travel around or work outside to create your art, this can be a very useful. It also provides a safe place for your supplies so that they won’t get damaged in transport. I once threw all of my oil paint tubes into my backpack for a class, thinking I had closed all the lids tightly, only to find oil paint on the inside of my backpack later….yeah… that was fun.

Using this method to store your supplies is also great if you don’t have a dedicated space to create your art. If your only available spot is say, the kitchen table after dinner, having the box that you can unload and then load back up again helps keep things tidy and in one place. Most artists I know, including myself, are a little messy when they work so having something you can put every back into in a somewhat organized fashion is always a plus.

Here is an example of one my tool boxes:


This box is used mainly for my watercolour and ink supplies. I have my watercolour brushes in the top outside compartment along with some drawing supplies. The inside tray holds my individual tubes and a couple ink/nib pens, while the bottom holds ink containers and travel size watercolour sets. This is the smallest tool box I own but is great for my watercolour supplies. There’s also room for a small rectangular pallet in there as well and a small container of water. If I decide I want to do some watercolour studies somewhere outside of my studio, I just have to grab my kit and a pad of paper and I’m on my way.

Things to Consider
Depending on your needs, tool boxes come in a variety of sizes and price ranges. My suggestion would be to check out a few different kinds and then watch for sales. Through a sale and some additional discounts, I was able to get my newest upgrade for almost 50% off. Storage doesn’t need to be expensive. An important thing to watch for is that the latch system on the box is easy to open, but also securely closed when it is in the locked position. Also, as an example, ensure that it is big enough to hold all of your paint while still leaving room for additional tubes. Being able to carry it comfortably without it being bulky or too heavy is also a must.

Extra Tips
Carry a couple of Ziplock type plastic bags with you in your case. If you are travelling around with your tool box, these come in handy for any used paper towels from wiping your brushes or even if you have a paint tube emergency like when it leaks or a lid cracks or goes missing.

Once you upgrade from a smaller to a bigger tool box, there’s no need to throw it out. If it is still in working order, find another use for it with different supplies or for something else within your home. Better yet, donate it to one of your artist friends who may not yet have adopted this organization tip 🙂

Barb Sotiropoulos

Barb Sotiropoulos

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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Hey, I'm Barb!

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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