The mind of an artist works a little differently from, say, your great uncle Ralph the plumber or cousin Liz the accountant with her collection of dog sweaters. It’s not always obvious what to buy them, and a general use gift just isn’t likely to cut it. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of great gifts for artists, from tools of the trade to inspiration generators, so you can look like the one who “really gets” them.

Color Sensor Gives Digital Color Info
Digital Color Sensor

This color sensor scans any surface and translates real world colors into digital color data (RGB, CMYK, XYZ) which can be imported into Photoshop and Illustrator, or matched with paints at Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, and Behr. This handy device has a million possible uses for artists, from capturing colors in the real world for use in digital artwork, to redecorating their home. A great gift for painters, designers, digital artists and illustrators.

Amazon.com
adobe creative cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription

Artists often have their head in the clouds, which is also where they should be accessing their new suite of creative tools from Adobe. A subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud gives artists a powerful set of applications to make everything from graphic art, to videos and websites.

Adobe.com
The iPad Paintbrush
The iPad Paintbrush

Why bother with messy paints and long drying times when there’s a perfectly good computer to paint on? The digital paintbrush mimics the flexibility and feel of the real thing, and even leaves brush stokes. It can simulate painting in oil, acrylic, watercolor or charcoal and is compatible with most touchscreen devices.

Hammacher.com
Camera Lucida Drawing Tool
Camera Lucida Drawing Tool

It’s rumored that the real reason great Renaissance artists like Ingres, Van Eyck, and Caravaggio were able to draw so accurately is very simple – they cheated. The Camera Lucida is an ingenious tool that superimposes the subject’s image on the artist’s canvas. From there, all the artist needs to do is trace the projected image and, voila, another masterpiece accurate down to the last detail.

Amazon.com
The Digital Art Museum
Digital Art Museum

If there’s one thing that every artist ought to appreciate, it’s art. This virtual art museum will be an endless source of inspiration, and great way for the artist to display their original work or choose from an extensive library of more than 20,000 classics like “The Scream” or “Starry Night”.

Hammacher.com
Stop Motion Claymation Kit
Stop Motion Claymation Kit

Know an artist who has lots and lots of time on their hands? This stop motion animation kit may be the perfect thing to fill up those hours. It’s actually a really fun process, but it is slow – there’s no way around that. This kit will certainly help speed things up and they’ll be making short films before they can say Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

Amazon.com
Sandscript - Automatic Sand Drawing Machine
Automatic Sand Drawing Machine

This Zen sand drawing machine is the perfect toy to fiddle with while waiting for the next big inspiration. A magnetically controlled steel ball traces patterns and doodles in the sand. The ball can be controlled manually or you can just let it do its thing automatically. When you’re finished just give it a little shake and your design is erased like an Etch A Sketch.

ThinkGeek.com
Smartphone Camera Lenses
Smartphone Camera Lenses

The camera phone has become an indispensable tool for many artists. Always having a camera with them means they can capture inspiration and beauty wherever they discover it. A set of specialty lenses enables them to get extreme close-ups, fisheye effects, and wide angle views, and the image quality is good enough to hang on any gallery wall.

Amazon.com
Pointillist Artist's Electronic Pen
Pointillist Artist’s Electronic Pen

The greatest innovation in stippling since…well maybe the only innovation in stippling. It’s a fun process and the results are beautiful, there’s just one big problem – making all those damn dots. If the artist you know happens to have shaky hands (or a serious coffee addiction), then they may already be a stippling machine, but for the rest of us there is the Pointillist Electronic Pen.

Hammacher.com
3d Printer Pen
3D Printer Pen

In the 80s there was a popular kids’ show called Simon, and as the theme song explained, the things that Simon drew came true. Well that whimsical story has become reality with the arrival of 3D pens. These amazing devices have advanced a lot since they were introduced, and the price has come down enough to make them an affordable gift for the artist you know.

Amazon.com
LED Light Box For Tracing
LED Light Box For Tracing

Looking for a really bright idea? A light box is a great gift for artists who draw and sketch. If you’ve ever seen them trace an image by taping it up on a window, then you’ve found the perfect gift. These LED light boxes are thin and portable, can last more than 50,000 hours, and stay cool to the touch.

Dickblick.com
The Digital Artist's Sketch Pad
The Digital Artist’s Sketch Pad

Drawing on a computer has its advantages but will never have the feel of drawing with pencil and paper. This thingamajig bridges the gap between the physical and virtual worlds and enables artists to digitally edit and enhance their traditionally hand-drawn artwork. The “smartpad” captures drawings from actual paper, converts them to data, and sends them by bluetooth to any computer. The pad also works well with iOS and Android tablets or mobile devices.

Hammacher.com
Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook
Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook

Artists and writers often keep notebooks filled with ideas and doodles. If you know one that has boxes and boxes full of old notebooks, then this smart digital notebook may be the perfect gift. It feels like paper but can transfer what’s scribbled inside to their computer for saving and editing. Once the notebook pages are full, they just erase the physical copies, by putting the Pocketbook into the microwave. After being nuked the pages are blank again and they can fill it back up.

Amazon.com
Hang-O-Matic All-In-One Picture Hanging Tool
Hang-O-Matic Picture Hanging Tool

If the artist you know has a show at a gallery coming up, this handy picture hanging tool is just what they need. Hanging lots of pictures of varying sizes on a wall and having it look neat and evenly spaced is a challenge. This tool includes 6 feet of tape measure, a built-in level, and will mark the wall to tell them exactly where the nails should go.

Amazon.com
The Artist's Digital Canvas
The Artist’s Digital Canvas

Creating art on the computer as opposed to the canvas opens up a new range of creative possibilities. This digital canvas and stylus gives artists the feel of traditional drawing and painting combined with the power of modern technology. The cost of this thingamajig is minimal compared to buying paints, brushes and canvases for each new work of art.

Hammacher.com
3D Printer
3D Printer

For centuries artistes have toiled away, diligently refining their skills until becoming masters, so that they can create exquisitely detailed artwork of the highest craftsmanship. Well, there’s a much easier way. Just print it. This is a game changer for artists, and if they’re lucky enough to get this as a gift from you, they will be beside themselves. And you will be the recipient of printed thingamajigs for the rest of your time on Earth.

Amazon.com
Artist's Color Wheel
Artist’s Color Wheel

In the right hands, a color wheel is like a recipe book for beautiful design. There are actually a lot of cool tricks that can be achieved by placing certain colors beside each other, as Jasper Johns explored in his work in the 1950s. For example, did you know that you can make one color look like two different colors? Or make two different colors appear as if they were exactly the same? There is a science behind it all, about how your brain interprets sensory input, but let the artist worry about that. Just know that this is an item that should be included with every painter’s toolkit, that can help them mix colors and understand the effects colors have on one another.

dickblick.com
Molecular Gastronomy kit
Molecular Gastronomy Kit

Artist thrive on creative challenges, and everyone needs to eat. Why not bring the whole picture into focus with this kit full of culinary experiments? Their food will be as beautiful as their artwork, and you may just get invited over to try some chocolate spaghetti noodles, exploding caviar beads, solid spheres of yogurt, or salmon topped with lemon foam.

Amazon.com
The Eternal Zen Water Canvas
The Eternal Zen Water Canvas

Inspiration is fleeting, and art trends come and go. Help the artist you know embrace the impermanence of their creations with this Zen water canvas. Water is brushed on the absorbent canvas, leaving beautiful gray marks that evaporate and completely disappear within minutes, reminding the artist that their best ideas are yet to come.

Hammacher.com
3d Scanner
3D Scanner

If they do any 3D modeling or already have a 3D printer, then a 3D scanner is the obvious gift they need. Any small object can be scanned and rendered as a digital 3D textured mesh in full color. This is the closest thing we’ve got to the Replicator technology we’ve all seen on Star Trek, and it’s a tool that will open up a new world of possibilities for the artist you know.

Amazon.com
Metal Balloon Dog Sculpture
Metal Balloon Dog Sculpture

While it may look like a party favor from a 10 year old’s birthday party to the uncultured eye, any artist will recognize these replicas of Jeff Koons’ iconic large scale Balloon Dog sculptures. In 2013 he sold one of his dogs at Christie’s for $58,400,000. Perhaps looking at this piece will be inspiring for its owner, or maybe completely depressing if they’re the typical starving artist type.

Amazon.com
art
Original Artwork

It can be tough to shop for artists, but one thing you know for sure is – they’re into art. Commission an original work by a local artist or find a starving artist online who is hungry for a sale. The gift will be sincerely appreciated by everyone involved. Make sure you pick something that suits your friend’s aesthetic and not your own!

Artsy.com
Instant Photo Printer For Phone
Instant Photo Printer For Phone

If you know an artist that likes to draw or paint from photographs, this instant printer may be just the thing they need. Sure they could use their desktop computer, but this is a whole lot easier and they can take it anywhere. If you’ve ever played with an old Polaroid camera you know the joy of snapping a photo and instantly seeing a print. It’s also a quick way to produce small scale art – snap a picture with the phone, print, sign, and sell.

Amazon.com
Sensory Depravation Session
Sensory Depravation Session

Artists are always searching the world for inspiration, but the most amazing discoveries are really inside their creative minds. Treat them to a sensory depravation experience and let their minds wander the Cosmos in search of beauty and truth. Or maybe they just take a nap, either way they’ll get something out of it.

PancakeBot
PancakeBot

A 3D pancake printer gives artists another medium to express their creativity, and gives patrons a new way to appreciate art – by consuming it. Support the arts by commissioning an edible museum-quality masterpiece that even the toughest art critic will find tasteful.

Amazon.com
Coolbox Smart Toolbox

If the artist you know is a maker or builder, they surely already have a toolbox. What they need though, is a Coolbox. This modern evolution of the toolbox has come a long way from being just a place to store tools. It has built-in power strips and an internal battery, a clock, wheels, bluetooth audio, an LED lamp, a whiteboard, and even a bottle opener.

coolbox.io
Monthly Art Project Supplies
Monthly Art Project Subscription

Smart Art is an art project in a box, delivered monthly to their door. It’s designed to inspire creative thinking and may be the perfect thing to help get them over a creative block. Each box will contain everything they need to create a new project. They’ll explore a new technique each month and experiment with encaustic painting, mixed media, impasto painting, street art, and much more.

smartartbox.com
Adjustable Circular Ruler

Any artist will want need this circular ruler as soon as they see it. Why did it take so long for someone to invent this? All that time spent multiplying the diameter by Pi to find the circumference of a circle, wasted. This is a no-brainer. Buy this thing now.

Amazon.com
Edible Spray Paint
Edible Spray Paint

Yes, it is possible to actually have green eggs and ham, and your artist friend may just be zany enough to try it. This edible spray paint is commonly used in cake decorating but any true artist will find several more creative uses for it.

Amazon.com
DNA Portrait
DNA Portrait

For the artist, art is about expressing themselves and their individuality. What better tribute to their uniqueness than a work of art depicting their actual one-of-a-kind DNA? You can give them the DNA sampling kit as the gift and let them choose the style and color of print they want, or if you’re really clever you can find a way to get that cheek swab ahead of time and present them with the finished work of art.

dna11.com
photography studio for artist
Mini Photo Studio

If the artist you know is of the starving variety, they probably can’t afford to take professional photos of what they make. Yet having high quality images is important if they ever want to sell any of their work. Until they save up enough to get that fancy camera, you can get them started with this table top photo studio perfect for documenting small artwork.

Amazon.com
Shapescapes Sculpture in a Box
Sculpture Game

Shapescapes is a toy designed to inspire creativity in three dimensions. Once you start playing with it you can’t keep your hands off. It’s like a combination of legos and trying to see shapes in clouds. It’s described as a product for kids but there’s no reason this wouldn’t be fun for adults too, and after all, artists are often kids at heart.

Dickblick.com
1000 Colors Puzzle gift
1000 Colors Puzzle

It’s about time someone put a new spin on the jigsaw puzzle. Test an artist’s visual palette by making them assemble this bear of a puzzle using only their color instincts. Its reliance on color over line stimulates the brain in a different way from standard puzzles, presumably making an artist even more artisty.

Uncommongoods.com
art dice gift
Art Dice

Despite what you might think, inspiration doesn’t just flow freely through an artist like electricity from an accidentally urinated-on electric fence (don’t ask). There are many extended periods of frustration, unbroken cursing, and soul-darkening self-flagellation. Is that what you want for them? These dice can help provide much needed random inspiration in the worst moments.

Uncommongoods.com
walls notebook gift for artist
Graffiti Sketch Book

It’s hard to visualize your next public defacing when your sketch book contains nothing but blank white pages. Provide them with better inspiration in the form of realistic-looking wall surfaces. Or perhaps you’re trying to give them an alternative to real-world graffiti, for which this works equally well. In that case, good for you. That probably makes you a better role model, but nobody’s judging.

Amazon.com
autodesk software for gift
3D Modeling Software

Unless you use this kind of thing yourself, you’re probably not going to know what the hell you’re buying them. Don’t worry about that. If they’ve said they need “3D modeling software,” then yes, this is what they’re talking about. Their inner super-dork will fall in love with you forever for this.

AutoDesk.com
Melting Time Clock
Salvador Dali Melting Clock

Philosophers have long argued over the appropriate verb to attach to the concept of time. Does it pass? Flow? Fly? Disappear? In the landscapes of the world’s most famous surrealist, it melts. Yeah, we’re not sure what to make of that either. But every artist loves this clock.

Amazon.com
life size artist manikin gift idea
Life Size Artist’s Manikin

Artists are known for having strange requests for the people around them. So you can’t be too surprised when a painter you know says, “Bend over and don’t move.” But the fact is, it gets tiring holding unnatural poses. It’s probably worth investing in a manikin or two so you can have your physical autonomy back.

MisterArt.com
Drafting and Crafting Table
Drafting and Crafting Table

Everyone knows artists can’t afford furniture. Yet for many of them, a drafting/craft table is a basic necessity. This makes you, the gift giver, more or less the master of their universe. This could be the difference between a rich and rewarding career on the one hand, and ending up homeless and babbling under a nearby overpass on the other.

Amazon.com
Folding French Easel
Folding French Easel

This folding french easel gives an artist the portability and practicality they need, all in a beautiful, classically styled piece of genuine craftsmanship. Whether on the bank of a European river, atop a snowcapped mountain, or in their mother’s basement, this classic french easel will be all they will need for years to come. Oh, and maybe a loan every once in a while.

Amazon.com