Starving Artist Make-Your-Own Christmas Gift Ideas

By heather at 3:05 am on Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Starving artists like to give presents, too… why not take a step back from the pressure of buying gifts and put your skills to use by making your own gifts instead? Creative gifts show that you care about the person you have taken the time to make it for…and being an artist you have a distinct advantage in the creative-gift department!

Hand paint your own holiday cards : Hand painted cards are unusual and become a frameable gift in themselves. Come up with a simple design (or not!) that you are happy replicating a dozen or so times (however many cards you’ll need). Either mount your finished illustrations onto cards, or illustrate directly onto your pre cut & folded cards. An inexpensive option is card-stock paper, which can be trimmed down, scored & folded to the desired size… it can be purchased from office supply stores for around $5, and a pack of card envelops about $5.

Frame artwork such as a nude / still-life drawing : A simple black frame can transform those recent charcoal sketches from life drawing or still life studies into works of collectible art. Make sure to sign & date your work!

Swap Artwork with Colleagues : Want to give a creative colleague a gift, and visa versa? Why not chat about it, and see if you both have work you may want to swap! Trading paintings & artwork is a fun way of collecting interesting pieces from artists you know & love.

Make a Coupon Books : Remember making coupons for your parents for simple treats like “Wash Your Car” or “Take Out The Trash?” Why did you ever stop making those, give it a go again! Coupons for “1 Free Sketch Portrait” or “Clean the Bathroom” may actually be redeemed!

Hand Paint an Ornament for the Christmas Tree : paper & glass “blank” ornaments are inexpensive ($1 each at Walmart) and a small gesture suitable to anyone who celebrates Christmas at the holidays.

Illuminated Notebooks : Blank notebooks can be purchased from the dollar store, and just afix a copy of one of your illustrations to the front, or custom design the front cover for each person you plan to give it to.

Custom Artwork : Creating a piece of artwork for someone special can be risky…if you’re unsure of their tastes, maybe involve them in the process to see what sort of subject matter and colours they may like. If painted on canvas, often you don’t even need to add a frame…just use eyehooks & wire so that it is ready-to-hang.

Print a Calendar : A bit more pricey for the starving artist, but they make a great gift / promotional piece around this time of year. You can get good quality calendars printed for as low as $15 each, and they are a promotional tool that works for you year round.

Hand Painted Stationery : Slice up printer paper down to nice notepaper sizes, and hand paint little swashes in the corners. Mix in a few hand-painted envelopes, tie up with a ribbon…and voila, you have a hand-painted stationery pack ready to give to a thoughtful note-giving friend!

Still stuck for ideas? Here are a few ideas from TreeHugger for giving gifts that are earth-friendly :

1. Be sure your material gift will get used : It may be the thought that counts, but a gift that the receiver does not use is simply wasted: not a very nice thought. Give material possessions only if you know the recipient well enough to pick out something they were on the cusp of getting for themselves, or which they really need and will certainly enjoy using.

2. Give a consumable gift : Your friend will love your consumable gift twice: once while enjoying the organic teas, fair trade coffee, fresh flowers, fresh or dried fruits and nuts, or other consumable gift; and again when they appreciate that your gift leaves them with no guilty conscience about a gift left unused in the corner of their closet.

3. Buy a local gift : A gift made or grown locally can tell a story or share a unique product you have discovered on your own stomping grounds. Your locally-sourced gift will save the environment from the emissions involved in shipping.

4. Buy high-quality goods : Sometimes a little extra care or money invested will result in finding a high quality gift that will do justice to the materials consumed in the manufacturing by a long lifespan. Try flea markets or vintage and second-hand shops for quality goods you can afford: then make the gift “new” with a personal touch like a special paint job, or some ribbon around the edges. Your friend will enjoy your perfect high-quality gift much longer!

5. Think about your packaging : Use packaging that will not go to waste. Your packaging may be part of the gift itself, such as wrapping the gift in a scarf or enclosing it in a box that can be reused for collecting life’s odds and ends. Reusable wrapping, such as a gift bag, will pass on the fun…

If you do decide to buy baby gifts for Christmas for the children of your friends and family then look online for various baby gift ideas before you go to a store and over-spend on overpriced baby gifts that you didn’t have to buy.

Filed under: illustrations, business of illustration


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Comment by Valentine Gift Ideas

February 8, 2008 @ 5:34 am

Thanks for the tips. Been looking for such list for the longest time

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Comment by Professional Glamour Portrait Photography – Stuart Riddell Portrait Design

May 9, 2008 @ 5:28 pm

Thank you for your post. Surely gave me a lot of inspiration for Christmas!

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Comment by Bethany Gifted

August 29, 2008 @ 2:10 am

Thanks for this, I am hopeless with things like this so its going to really help me.

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