jackiediedam November 24, 2016

This is the last part of my series about materials and the tools I use, or used, as an illustrator. In this post I will talk about brushes and related objects I use. I’ve mentioned before that I am crazy for paper and paints so I am now happy to show that for once I’m not that crazy about something. There is a “normal” side to me at last.


Most of my brushes are cheap/affordable from a brand called Da Vinci. I mostly use the Universal or Nova Brushes from their brand and usually buy them in small sizes since I paint on rather small paper ( A4 – A3 ). I don’t spend so much on brushes and because I always use whatever brush I can find. When they are expensive I am afraid of loosing them and to be honest I think the quality of your paper and paint are much more important. This is not to say that any brush will do. There are differences in quality that show in your work. That being said I own only one ‘special’ brush, that was quite expensive: an Escoda travel brush size 8. I got it last year, at the Sennelier shop in Paris and it was more of a souvenir/treat to myself but after using it for the first time I completely fell in love. This brush comes in handy when I have to paint backgrounds or bigger areas because it is super smooth and soft. I would probably invest on these travel brushes in the future, but at the moment, all the money goes towards paper and paints.


Besides brushes, I think its important to have the following objects in order to maintain a good work flow in your studio:

  1. A proper “studio knife”: This is essential to properly and safely take apart the sheets of paper on a block (I once opened a block of paper with a metal ruler, and it ruined the first few layers. Sad sad day)
  2. Cups and containers: I put water in empty jam jars (mostly from Bonne Maman, because they are quite low and are very pretty) For my liquid watercolor, I always pour them in closed plastic containers. This is very handy and keeps your ink sealed and liquid. Also: good for travelling!
  3. Organizing: I love the IKEA Alex cabinet because it has lots of drawers so I can use each one for a purpose: In one I put only color palettes, so they don’t get dusty, in another one crayons, pencils and pens, some will have finished works that are not yet archived and some I use for packaging materials such as paper backs and plastic sleeves. I also have a drawer for ‘tech’ stuff that includes extra hard drives, Wacom tablets, a selfie stick tripod that I use to take time lapses, and earphones. I also like to have clear plastic folders, so I can archive all my work properly. This makes it so much more easy to find the works later (no more going through a pile of 200 layers of works).

I divide my archived works into jobs for magazines, brands, wedding illustrations and private commissions.
Also important for you freelancers out there: have a filing system to put away bills, tax documents, paper samples, and all the stuff you will need in the future (and believe me, you will need these on your busiest day, so it’s better to have them in an easy access and properly organised).

So, that is all! I hope you liked to get to know more about my materials and I hope that you learned something to make your artist life easier and your work better! Let me know if you have any extra tools that you consider essential or if you have any other thought about the topic.