The struggle between wanting to buy ALL THE THINGS and also, y’know, saving money is real tough.
So many pretty paints, stamps, inks, and brushes!
Here’s a for instance: I REALLY wanted a set of Dylusions spray inks. I loved the colors, loved how easy they were to use, loved the effects you could get with inks + water + stamps. However, I was always too cheap to get them– individual bottles retail for about $5-8 EACH, so even if I waited to buy one when I had a great Michael’s coupon, I was going to be waiting for a while.*
*Also, and this was a real bummer, Dylusions is not a huge presence at my local Michael’s stores. I rarely even SAW Dylusions inks in any of them, and even then it was maybe two colors, max.
Eventually I realized that, hello, I could buy a set of them online. So naturally I checked on my favorite site for bargain-hunting: eBay.
And wow! Someone had an entire set of 12+ ink bottles listed for a VERY good price. True, they were used, but there was still plenty of ink left and the price was so good that I honestly didn’t care if I wasn’t the first person to use them. I ended up spending less than $2/bottle for the set, saving enough money to be able to buy ANOTHER set later on (and also paints, stamps, and more!).
Ever since finding that first set on eBay, I’ve been obsessed with finding more used or deeply discounted art supplies online. And I’ve found some really good stuff! 12 sets of Dylusions rubber stamps, a set of Dylusions paints (new and unused!), a set of Dina Wakley’s Scribble Sticks, etc. etc. Fantastic!
And you know what else? Buying used supplies helps with that little anxious thought of “oh, I can’t use this shiny new thing because then it will be RUINED” which can lead to huge stashes of art supplies that don’t get used at all. Starting with already used stuff removes that panic barrier.
Tips for Buying Secondhand Online
If you’d like to save a little money and try shopping for secondhand art supplies online, here’s some tips:
Search brand + keywords to narrow down listings.
If you ONLY want to look for used supplies, be sure to include that in your search (or use it as a filter if the site will let you). It’s a simple enough thing, but it’s the most important step in this whole process.
Example: search for “used” or “partially used,” or “crafter’s lot.” Or maybe “opened but unused,” which would be a bonus because it’s basically new, then.
Try different applications and sites.
My favorites: eBay, Mercari, and Facebook Marketplace. Other sites to try: Craigslist, Etsy, LetGo, OfferUp.
But honestly, you can find things on nearly every buy and sell site. Try using what you’re most familiar with first, and see what’s available! Then, expand your search outward. I recommend checking at least three, to find the best available price.
Be sure to also check for coupons or cash-back codes. Rakuten is a good resource to find discount codes for eBay and Etsy, for instance.
Never used Rakuten before? Use this link to get $10 off your first purchase!*
*This is an affiliate link.
Search for misspellings of brand names.
Some platforms will automatically bring the correct spelling of the thing instead of the mis-spelling, but I’ve found several good things on Mercari because they’ve been misspelled or put under the wrong brand name. For instance: searching for “Dina Wakely” (as opposed to the correct “Dina Wakley”) brought up different items!
If you’re an eBay shopper, FatFingers.com can help you find eBay listings with misspelled brand names. Type in the correct spelling of what you’re looking for, and it’ll automatically search different misspellings for you.
Some sites, like eBay and Mercari, allow you to send in an offer that’s lower than the listed price. And oftentimes sellers will accept them! For instance, I sent in a whackadoodle low offer for a set of new Dylusions paints on eBay, and it was ACCEPTED. You never know what people are okay with, so send in an offer and see what happens!
Sometimes, the thing you want isn’t available on the secondhand market. Or sometimes it’s REALLY EXPENSIVE (for whatever reason). If you’ve gone this long without buying that stamp, be patient and wait some more. You may be able to get a better deal if you wait and keep checking the sites for new listings.
eBay and Mercari let you save searches and will send you alerts when new listings within that search show up. I have several searches saved for different product lines, like Dina Wakley and Jane Davenport for instance.
And that’s how I buy a lot of my supplies nowadays! Secondhand.
Do you buy used supplies? Have any tips I’ve missed here? Drop a comment below!