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10 Life-Changing Things Every Creative Person Should Try

Because we tried them for you first!

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Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

The BuzzFeed staff are always trying new products, apps, hacks, and DIY projects, and we decided it was time to start sharing the best of them with you. Each month, we post our recommendations for what's actually worth it. This month, the art and DIY teams chose their favorite products for creative endeavors. For the sake of transparency, items under "Things We Bought" were purchased with our own money and/or were not the result of a PR pitch. Those under "Things We Tried" are items that were provided to us at no cost for the sake of review. (But! We're under no obligation to write a review of those things, let alone a positive review.) Let us know in the comments what sorts of things you'd like us to review next month!

1. 12-Pocket Canvas Bib Apron β€” $11.07

I really like wearing an apron when I cook and clean β€” I find the pockets very handy, as the pockets in women's clothing ain't shit β€” and have often joked that I need a tool belt for my glue gun when I'm spending a day making stuff. So getting a legitimate work apron just made sense. When I saw this apron linked to on a DIY blog, an apron literally appeared to be cut from the same cloth as my fancy-ass hipster Millennial creative yuppie expensive tool bag, I was like, Surely this apron is going to be sold by one of those companies that appeals to my love of Americana and is going to cost at least $45, but probably more like $85, and I'm still going to pin it and seriously consider buying it anyway because I am The Worst and I'm so easily marketed to. 😭 😭😭 (Just this week, I came across this apron which proved that this assumption was...pretty accurate.) Um, I cannot tell you how surprised I was when I clicked through and discovered it cost a mere ELEVEN AMERICAN DOLLARS on Amazon Prime!!! ELEVEN.


2. Creative Pep Talk Podcast β€” Free

Creative Pep Talk by Andy J Miller has been GODSEND to me ever since I've started a full-time job and have had less time to make my own stuff. I'm one of those people who find it especially hard to get my butt down at the desk and draw β€” I barely even sketch in my free time. Andy does a great job creating incentive for me to pick up the pencil and to reframe the way I look at my work. I recommended it to anyone who feels stuck and needs a little leverage to get the creative juices flowing. β€”Andrew Richard

3. Non-Photo Blue Pencils β€” $1.89 each

Andrea Hickey / BuzzFeed

I started sketching with non-photo blue within the past year because of a recommendation, and they just seem to make sketching easier, maybe because the color is so light; there isn't so much pressure to draw everything perfectly. You can also ink on top of them and not really see the blue pencil underneath, and then scan the inked drawing in and take out the blue altogether. But something about just using them to draw loosely without even intending to create a finished product is really great and freeing. They feel essential to the process at this point; I love them! β€”Andrea Hickey

4. Micron Pens β€” $10.98 for set of six

Macey J Foronda / BuzzFeed

I started using these in art school and they're amazing. I try to keep one along with me in my purse if I feel the need to write down an idea or sketch something out. You can buy them with different nib sizes for different line weights, which is great for drawing things in fine detail. They're built well and, in my experience, they've always drawn smooth with crisp lines. These pens are also archival quality, if you care about that sort of thing. I can't recommend these enough! β€”Macey J Foronda

5. Metallic Paints β€” ~$5-$7 per tube

I'm completely obsessed with metallic paints right now. I've been making abstract landscapes using the metallic paint for the land portions. But after I got started I realized someone could just filled a whole canvas with metallic paint textured and it would look amazing, which be such an easy way to have nice art in your home. It also made me want to paint everything I own to make it look more glamorous: the bottom of chair legs, picture frames, mirror edges etc – I haven't gotten around to doing that yet but I plan on it! β€”Loryn Brantz


6. Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencil Set β€” $89.66

You can paint and draw with these, what more could you want??? I often use these when doodling or making homemade cards for family and friends. You can get a great mix of textures and color intensities while using them, which is great for drawing/painting a variety of things. As with most pencils, they come in different sets that are better for shading/details/etc – so it's best to start off with a set with a mix of them all. β€”Macey J Foronda

7. HGTV for Sherwin-Williams Painting Gloves β€” $3

I've mentioned these before, but these gloves are seriously the best. They are thick enough to protect your skin but thin enough that you'll still get a good range of motion when you're wearing them. They are also very soft/cozy and stay in place better than any work gloves I've used. Highly recommend! β€”Rachel W. Miller

8. Uni-posca paint markers β€” $25 for a set of 15

I've always loved the idea of paint markers, but they come with a lot of problems. Paint markers are often oil-based and can smell terrible. They can be very temperamental in terms of getting a smooth line, and they tend to dry out very quickly (which is especially frustrating since they're not cheap). I recently discovered Uni-posca paint markers, and have since become obsessed! I've been using them pretty consistently for the last two months and they've showed no signs of drying out. They're also non-toxic and water based, so they don't smell at all. The markers come in a variety of sizes so you can cover large areas, but also get in for finer details. Another bonus β€” you can use them to write on a ton of different surfaces like wood, glass, and fabric just to name a few.

As much as I LOVE these markers, there are a few drawbacks β€” the biggest of which is that they only come in 15 colors. The shades are all great, but when it comes to skin tones, the options are very limited (there's a peach and a brown). Another problem is that not all sizes seem to come in all colors, and certain sizes are much more difficult to find than others. I've also noticed that with the finer point sizes, if you don't use them for a while, they start to come out a bit watery at first. One last thing to keep in mind when using these is that since acrylic is a legit paint, you have to be careful about your paper choices. I've found that Poscas work best on a thick (100lb) smooth bristol, but they'll tear up any normal drawing paper very easily. All that said, I'm super happy with these and would whole-heartedly recommend them to anyone interested! β€”Justine Zwiebel


9. Paper by Fiftythree β€” free for iOS

I've been playing around with a free app called Paper on an iPad Pro this month. The app, which can be used on many Apple devices, including an iPhone, is very easy and intuitive to use. I use it for hand-lettering, illustration, and note-taking; it's very fun for making quick illustrations, but I also can spend hours on one piece. I've also experimented with taking photos of my sketchbook and uploading them to the app to draw right on top of them. The headphones image above is the first thing I made with the app, and you can see more of my projects here.

I was really able to understand what all the tools were once I played around with it, but here's a timelapse of it in action:

Instagram: @chrisritter16

Paper53 makes a beautifully-designed pencil for $60-50 but supports other pencils like the new Apple Pencil ($99). I get more fine details with the Apple Pencil but I find myself using both. When I'm done, I upload my images from the app to Photoshop for any further design work, and the images are high resolution with an option to upload as a PNG. β€”Chris Ritter

10. Invest In A Good Pair Of Walking Shoes (And Then Get Out And Go)

Rebecca Hendin

"I wouldn't be able to be a functioning creative (or person, probably) without the inordinate amount of time I spend wandering around the city by myself, looking at things, taking it all in, and allowing my mind to be clear and free of technological and social distractions. The best ideas come during these times, as well as the peace and presence of mind needed to be creative and happy whilst being so." β€”Rebecca Hendin