How to Build a Set of Art Supplies- from Basic to Advanced

Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.— Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle


How To Build a Set of Art Supplies - from Basic to Advanced

Now that you're interested in the journey of art, you are probably asking where to begin. With so many creative art forms to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know the basics of what to buy and where to start. Everyone starts at the beginning and this post is dedicated to shedding light on basic supplies and building from there. Let us help you on your journey.

Enter the world of Kalli Camp Academy, a community to learn, flourish, and grow in the art of calligraphy. We aim to make it possible for artists at every skill level and culture to grow in their craft and connect with others on a deeper level through true friendships centered around shared passions. We also aim to support each other and help grow our small businesses as a result of this collaborative endeavor.

Basic Calligraphy Supplies

To begin your journey in calligraphy, it may sound surprising that you don't need a ton of supplies. Four of the most important tools I recommend when starting out are:

  1. Quality paper, such as Canson Layout paper, a Rhodia pad, HP 32 lb. paper, or Capitol Bond paper
  2. Guidelines
  3. A pencil
  4. An exemplar to follow

Having only the basic necessities at the beginning helps with focusing on the quality of practice needed to develop muscle memory without the frustration of which nib to use, prepping your nib, what ink to get, and getting ink splotches on your paper. A good old-fashioned pencil is perfect for practicing the basic strokes and letterforms until you build the muscle memory and comfortability of doing calligraphy. With a pencil, it's not only easier to correct mistakes, but using it also takes the pressure of expecting perfection away from your practice while making the focus more on being consistent with each stroke. Pictured above is an oblique holder made by Luis Creations, a Tombow Fudenosuke hard-tip brush pen, and a Blackwing matte pencil.

Using quality paper from the beginning helps to achieve better results, especially once you begin using ink and nib. Having an exemplar to follow ensures that you will be doing each stroke correctly, which will be the foundation for beautiful letterforms that are balanced, consistent, and legible.

All supplies can be found by shopping our affiliate link at John Neal Booksellers (which supports KCA at no extra cost to you).

More Advanced Calligraphy Supplies

Once you've mastered the foundation of calligraphy, you're ready to progress to the next level. Whether you decide to pursue pointed pen, brush pen or broad edge pen calligraphy will determine the next supplies you decide to purchase.

Additional supplies to include in your toolkit are:

  • Nibs
  • Pilot Parallel pens
  • An oblique or straight pen holder
  • A laser level or light pad
  • Quality paper for finished pieces such as Arches hot press paper (a quality paper with a smooth finish and accepts ink well)
  • Metallic watercolors to embellish your design.

Whether you're a beginner or advanced, guidelines are always helpful for keeping your work consistent throughout. By adding to your toolkit, you will feel more confident in creating finished art for commissioned work. 

Find calligraphy supplies here.

Basic Supplies for Watercolor

If you're just getting started with watercolor, here is a suggested list of supplies to get started.

  • A pencil for sketching
  • 140 lb. watercolor paper
  • A basic palette such as Winsor and Newton Cotman colors
  • Watercolor brushes ranging from sizes 2-8
  • Paper towel
  • A water jar 

Now you're ready to begin your journey.

Advanced Watercolor Supplies

Once you've grasped the basic concepts of watercolor, you may find that it's time to add more to your toolkit. Pictured above are:

  • A set of Princeton round brushes
  • A Blackwing pencil for sketching
  • A Micron pen for outlining
  • A kneaded eraser for gently erasing sketch lines without smudging
  • Tracing paper
  • Arches cold press paper (cold press has grooves that tend to make it more suitable for absorbing watercolor without warping)
  • A set of Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolor paint pans

You may find that you prefer a different brand of watercolors or using tubes rather than pans.

Don't be afraid to experiment. You can even find watercolor dot cards to try out before committing to an entire set. You may want to add several brush shapes to your stash as well, such as flat, mop, and wedge brushes. Masking or painter's tape is also used by many artists to maintain a clean border around their painting for clean edges. Although Arches paper and Princeton brushes are shown above, you may find that you prefer other brands. For digitizing your watercolor (and calligraphy), you might consider investing in a flatbed scanner. Having the ability to scan and digitize your work will also open the door for providing spot calligraphy, letterpress and digital printing, using your artwork on various products such as greeting cards, mugs, fabric, or endless possibilities.

Find watercolor supplies here.

Cheering you on your creative journey, friend! Until next time, keep imagining and doing what you love.


Written by Angenise Rawls, Independent Marketing Assistant & Special Projects Coordinator

Calligraphy Artisan at The Graceful Pen Studio | Instagram: @thegracefulpenstudio |




Download a Free Calligraphy Getting Started Guide

When you subscribe, we will send a 14-page printable packet to your inbox with a supply list, instructions, anatomy of the guideline, a minuscule exemplar, 5 traceable worksheets, and several different guideline sheets. Welcome to the world of beautiful writing!