23 December 2014

ArtSnacks - Studio Collection 2014 (Part I)

Welcome to my unboxing of the 2014 ArtSnacks Studio Collection!  They said, "Something big is coming," and they weren't kidding!  This box was so huge that I've actually decided to split my unboxing into two blog posts, one that is purely the unboxing excitement and another that focuses on first-impression testing of some of the products inside.  Ready to experience this giant art supply wonderland?

Unopened ArtSnacks Shipment
So huge!
Unopened Studio Collection Box
Astoundingly big!

When I first got my box in the mail, I was blown away by the size.  I knew they said it was gonna be big, but it doesn't hit home until you actually have the box in your hands.  Normally, ArtSnacks boxes are so light and slender that I can carry them easily with a couple fingers.  This thing, however, was not just heavy, it was so dimensionally large that it required two hands to soundly grip and lift.  Of course, I'm short in stature and in finger, but I still think that says something about the physical magnitude of the Collection.

First Look at the Contents of the Studio Collection
First peek.

Message from ArtSnacks
You're welcome, ArtSnacks folks!

Author's Hand Opening the Wrappings
Let's open this thing! Also...it matches my nail polish perfectly!

Full-Size Bag of Skittles

After opening the pretty silver paper that enveloped the main contents of the Studio Collection, the first thing that caught my eye was the full-size bag of Skittles.  I'm not even a Skittles fan, but just seeing that big ol' bag of sweets was like fuel on the already blazing fire of my excitement.  I actually don't crave candy that often, or at least not in such large amounts, so I'm still only about halfway through this bag, ha ha.

Studio Collection Sticker
Fancy box, fancy sticker.

Studio Collection Menu (Contents List)
Huge box, huge menu!

Back of Menu
I love the classy pattern on the menu back.

After squealing about the candy and admiring the fancy sticker and menu, I started looking at the real ArtSnacks.  Here's what came in my box (in order of my examining them, not as listed on the menu) with specific attributes noted in brackets:
  • Krink K-32 Water-Based Paint Marker [blue]
  • Copic Doodle Pack [brown]
  • Sensu Buddy Stylus
  • Lumi Inkodye Kit [navy, diver]
  • Embossed Baron Fig Confidant Sketchbook
  • PanPastel Artists' Pastels
  • Kuretake ZIG Memory System Twin Tips Set [black]
  • Bee Paper Aquabee Co-Mo Sketch Pad

KRINK K-32 Paint Marker in Blue

Here I received another Krink paint marker in blue!  I had just received a different-style-but-same-color Krink marker in last month's ArtSnacks box but I was much more excited this time because the Studio Collection marker is water-based.  Watercolor is my favorite painting medium so this seems perfect for me, not just as a fun way to experiment, but as a potential new addition to my regular stock of painting supplies.  I haven't experimented with it in full yet, but Part II of this unboxing series will show you a little bit of what this marker can do.

Copic Doodle Pack in Brown
Copic Doodle Pack in Brown, Alternate

This next item has been one of my favorites.  The Copic Doodle Pack is four Copic items in one box, all color-coordinated to allow maximum artistic awesomeness, even when used for nothing more than a sketch.  I got the brown set.  I'm sure there are different color sets available but I don't know if ArtSnacks sent out anything other than brown (let me know if you got a different color!).

Copic Doodle Pack in Brown, Back
Copic Doodle Pack in Brown, Close-Up

This set included two Copic Ciao markers, E31 and E35; one Atyou Spica glitter pen in chocolate (warm brown); and one 0.3mm Copic Multiliner pen in brown.  I've been using these items a lot, almost every day, especially in conjunction with the Baron Fig sketchbook (which I'll talk about in a bit).  I even used them to add amazing details to my Christmas card illustration for 2014!  Of everything in the box, this doodle pack has so far proved to be the most enticing and useful.

Buddy Stylus
Buddy Stylus, Back

Although I already had a little stylus for my smartphone, I found this Buddy Stylus to be a pretty neat item, especially for drawing on a touchscreen.  Its most distinguishing feature is that it fits on most standard-size pens or pencils which makes it easier--or more natural--to draw on touchscreens (but make sure to put it on the blunt end!  It doesn't explicitly state this on the product packaging--only hints at it in the usage illustrations--please don't use this on the pointed end of your pen or pencil; you could damage your screen).  The stylus I already owned is only about 4-inches tall and thinner than most pencils, so it can get uncomfortable and is fatiguing to use for long periods.  The Buddy stylus doesn't suffer those issues because the owner gets to choose which writing instrument to use it with.

Lumi Pencil Pouch, Front
Lumi Pencil Pouch, Back
Lumi Inkodye Set

This next item, the Lumi Inkodye set, got me super excited.  I had already seen the dye/detergent combo in an unboxing video several months earlier so I already knew what it was (a way to print on fabric using sunlight).  What really pleased me was that the Studio Collection version comes with everything needed to use it.  When I first saw this product months ago, the subscriber [Ashley Picanco, I really enjoy her art videos] only received the Inkodye and Inkowash packets.  Here I not only received those two essential items, I also got a photo negative to experiment with, a pencil pouch to actually print on, and illustrated instructions explaining exactly what to do.

Lumi Photonegative and Instructions
My negative features a diver.
Inkowash and Inkodye
I got the color "navy".

I'm extremely excited to play around with this stuff but it's one of the few items I haven't touched yet.  Since the dye requires direct sunlight, this isn't the best time of year (winter in the north) to use it.  I'll save it for late spring or summer 2015, I think.  By then I'll really need the new pencil pouch, too: for holding all the fresh ArtSnacks I'll have received!

Baron Fig Sketchbook, Wrapped
ArtSnacks Embossed on Sketchbook Cover
Baron Fig Confidant Sketchbook Contents
Confidant Information Pamphlet
Inside Sketchbook, Front Page
Inside Sketchbook, Featuring Tassle

I have to say, this Baron Fig sketchbook might be the crowning jewel of the Studio Collection.  I mean, it came plastic wrapped AND boxed, has a cloth cover and fabric tassel, required a pamphlet to describe all its features, and has the ArtSnacks logo beautifully embossed on the cover in shining silver!  How much more fancy could it get?  I actually feel a sense of pride in this book; it's beautifully made, useful, and a bit of a conversation starter (while I was waiting for a flight, I was sketching in this sketchbook using my Copic Doodle Pack and when the lady next to me complimented my work, I started a brief conversation about ArtSnacks and the cool art tools I had just received).  Because of this, I immediately decided to use it to its fullest potential and have been making lovely, full-page drawings in it every few days.

Although I've been using the Confidant a lot, I won't review it here--I'll save that for the next entry in this two-part review.  At least I will say I've been quite happy with it.

The product arrived safely bubble-wrapped~
Top-Down View of PanPastels
The red here is the pastel itself.
So many neat tools!
Cancer?!  (I'm not really bothered, ha.)

This next item is a bit of a wildcard for me: PanPastel Artists' Pastels.  I'm very green when it comes to any type of pastel so I didn't have a strong immediate reaction to this product but, even with my limited experience, the 'pan' presentation of these colors is very intriguing and seems almost wholly unique.  Not only are the pastels themselves formed into large cakes (similar to pan watercolors but much bigger than any I've seen), the cakes come in stackable dishes, with a variety of application tools stored in a larger container on the bottom (more photos of these features in Part II).  Even as a pastel novice, I can tell this is an awesome product. 

Interestingly, I have seen this type of stackable dish before, but not for an art product.  I have several eye shadow colors from Hollywood Color Company (it seems they may now be called Shany; in any case it's the only brand I can find now that has the same type of storage system) that came in tiny, twist-on, stackable containers, exactly like the PanPastel dishes except for the size.  I always admired the stacking system of those eye shadows, so I already feel enthusiastic about this product for that similarity alone.
ZIG Twin Black Tips Pen Set
ZIG Twin Black Tips Pen Set, Side View
ZIG Twin Black Tips Pen Set, Back

Next we have a really cool item with a wide variety of applications.  The ZIG Memory System Twin Tips set has already proven itself very useful to me, and very fun to experiment with!  This pack of four dual-tipped markers seems intended for scrapbookers, calligraphers, and anyone else doing hand-written text, but it's been great for me as an illustrator to add unique outlines and details to drawings and paintings.  I don't want to go too much into a product review here (I almost did!) so I'll just say that my first impression of this item was very good, mostly since I'm a pen lover in general.  With the dual tips, it's like getting eight different pens in one slim box.  So exciting!

Co-Mo Sketch Pad

Close-Up of Micro Perforation
Close-up of the micro-perforation.

The final item in my Studio Collection box is yet another product I had never seen before.  I was already familiar with the Bee Paper brand through their Aquabee marker paper (which I use fairly often) but this sketchbook is totally different from that.  It's a somewhat scanty paper pad--larger format than the Confidant sketchbook (8x10") but with a significantly smaller page count (30 sheets)--but one feature that elevates this sketchpad is the perforation.  This is a must for every sketchbook I buy; while most pages end up filled with scribbles, thumbnail sketches, and even written lists, I sometimes come up with a piece I like so much that I want to scan it and share it online.  Being able to remove pages cleanly is a huge help in this process (otherwise, the binding keeps the page from lying flat on the scanner's glass, creating a shadow in the final scanned image) so I was quite keen on this Co-Mo Sketch Pad from the start.
All Studio Collection Contents Revealed
Finally, all is revealed and it is glorious!

That's it for Part I of my Studio Collection unboxing.  Be sure to check out Part II to see most of these items in action during some preliminary testing and experimentation!  For now I'll say that this was the most exciting unboxing I've ever had for any art supply subscription.  It may have cost several times more than the usual monthly box, but the quality, variety, and usefulness of the items inside pushed the value of this box well beyond the actual purchase price.  If the ArtSnacks folks do this again in 2015, I'm in, no question.  Until then, I'll keep practicing, experimenting, and creating with all of these wonderful, exciting art supplies! 

If you got the 2014 Studio Collection, was your box different from mine?  How did you feel about what you received?  Have you created anything with your new tools?  For those who didn't get the Studio Collection, does it seem like something you'd be interested in now that you've seen it?