The Best Art Subscription Box!?

artful. by Ohh Deer Review

Note this review is not sponsored and all opinions are my own. A big thanks to the people at Ohh Deer who were kind enough to send me a complementary box to review for my blog!

Art subscriptions are hugely popular, with companies delivering a variety of surprise art supplies through our postboxes every month or quarter. As I am writing this, most of the world are experiencing some form of social distancing or isolation so, now more than ever, it’s important to find new things to keep you occupied – hence comes Artful!

Ohh Deer, a stationery company that specialise in “quirky, arty and funny illustrated products”, has recently released a new quarterly art subscription box called ‘Artful’. Different to their already successful ‘Papergang’, every three months subscribers receive a box of high quality art supplies which are handpicked by the featured artist, as well as a complementary Artful magazine, filled with interviews and tutorials.

From the get-go, I really love the look of this box. Everything here seems to follow a “doodle” theme, which complements the featured artist and it’s nice to see how big a part these artists play in shaping the contents of the boxes. The box itself is shipped in an envelope, which allows Ohh Deer to really go crazy with design on the box itself. It’s very clear how much effort the company go into with presentation, with the stationery wrapped up in a separate bag, a sketchbook exclusive to the box and a satin-finish to the magazine, all bound with tissue paper.

Inside the bag we find multiple art supplies, with a focus on Uni Posca pens! There are definitely multiple brand leaders here (as a brush pen enthusiast, I know all the Tombow products very well!) and the art supplies are clearly chosen to work well together. I also really love the sketchbook; it is brilliant quality (thick cardstock) and so perfect for Posca pens. I think there’s a real potential for subscription boxes to slack on the paper, since good quality paper is expensive and generally not the focus of the box, but Artful have still managed to throw in a quality pad of paper I know I would use with other art supplies, not just Posca pens.

It is so clear that the art supplies are chosen to work together to create an artwork from start to finish, while still being of equal quality. I really enjoyed experimenting with the contents in the box, particularly the Posca pens, which I’ve never used before (you can check out more of my art on my Instagram here). As someone who has subscribed to art boxes in the past, I don’t want a regular box of art supplies that I find I’ve already got in my home, so Artful struck a good balance here with well-known brands, while still being something more unconventional for traditional artists.

However, the real star of the show for me is the Artful magazine. The first issue is filled with multiple ideas for projects using the included art supplies, as well as exclusive artist interviews and other interesting artsy articles. You can tell that artists create and design the magazine from start to finish; I love all the artists included (I even happen to follow one of them on Instagram already!) and there’s a real variety of creative people in here. There are even swatches of the art supplies in here! I occasionally read the odd art magazine such as ‘Imagine FX’ or ‘Artists & Illustrators’, but never have time to fully enjoy all the content, so the exclusive Artful magazines really strike the perfect balance and are designed to complement the rest of the contents of the box.

In this particular box, Artful take a more unconventional “art supply”, Posca pens, and present a huge range of ideas for what you can create with them. I particularly like the project to create maps through doodling – it really appeals to the doodler in me! However, the magazine also aims to target the non-artist group and I can see the other activities, painting on glass and plant pots, appealing to those who just want to try something new. I can even see children enjoying helping out with some of the projects included, or even just being a different activity to work on with friends or family. Artful boxes really seem to be a subscription box for everyone.

From past experience with a monthly art subscription box, it is very obvious when some months’ contents are better value or quality than others. A month may also not be enough time to properly experiment with the contents of the boxes (I know I’ve been known to leave boxes unopened for days or even weeks at a time). This is why I think Artful have hit the nail with less frequent boxes at a more premium price – you still get your money’s worth, with an exciting variety of art supplies, but each box is quality in itself.

Overall, I think Artful really is the perfect art subscription box on the market right now. A quarterly subscription, at a slightly higher price, trumps the more frequently, monthly subscriptions that need to cut corners with contents. Furthermore, the materials included are all of an extremely high standard and the magazine really gives it the edge over other subscription services. At just £35 per box, Artful boxes are definitely something to dig your teeth into.

If you're interested in purchasing an Artful box or checking out their website, you can do so here! Happy arting!