For freshman going into art school: the bare bones recommendations
So ya chose to go to an art school… That’s great! 4 years of coffee and easy mac with a tin of paint thinner are in your future, friend!
But what do you actually need for an art school? Do you need the master set of pastels and oils or do you just need a pencil? Honestly… It depends on the school.
BUT!! From my own personal experience at the Kansas City Art Institute, I’m going to make a list of things to bring and what not to bring (at least on move in day).
HERE WE GO!
Every college is different on how their dorms work. Some are communal (like KCAI) some are single room apartments. But these basics should help you know what to buy and what to leave behind
( NOTE: every college has a different guide on what to bring and what not to bring. Please adhere to your school’s rules to avoid fines.)
YES list–the things you absolutely should bring
-mini fridge (2.5 cubic ft is good, if you share with your roommate you can go bigger)
-microwave; you OR your roommate. no one needs 2 microwaves.
-string lights. for when ya wanna see your desk but your roommate’s asleep.
-small trashcan. bring a pack of trashbags–draw string is the best.
-shower caddy/bag with flip flops. shower shoes are expensive, flip flops work the same.
-house shoes. for those cold days and walking to the bathroom.
-a small shelf/storage ottoman/storage seat. You want to have space to store your dry foods and textbooks, but you wanna be able to have a seat other than your desk chair.
-shoe organizer. whether it actually holds your shoes or not, this is great or organizing things. socks, cleaning supplies, hairspray and febreeze are off your desk and out of your closet.
-door mirror. you can get some pretty good ones for cheap at walmart or target. be sure of your door dimensions first though.
-2nd phone charger/long phone cable. for charging your phone in bed or at your desk. you never know how far away the outlet will be.
-fairly new power strip. just to be safe and to plug all your stuff into.
-body pillow if you don’t like cold walls.
-a notebook for each class that involves reading or note taking. you might think you can use a binder for all your classes, but easier organization and lighter backpacks are always good. also keep a highlighter and pen with each notebook. it’ll be well worth it, trust me. no one likes losing pens on exam days.
-at least 2 rolls of quarters (about $20). laundry. it costs $. at KCAI my laundry usually runs at $3.25 because i add a little more drying time.
-some sort of storage for your desk that isn’t super heavy. I’m currently using both a plastic crate from walmart for books and a cardboard box to keep stuff away from where I work.
-water filter pitcher. water purity is different everywhere, and even though the water may be clean, a lot of people get sick their first week in a new area just because of the water difference. a filter eases that discomfort just a bit more.
-folding laundry hamper. I say folding because it’s easier on move in day and it holds more. win win!
-basic cleaning supplies. messes happen.
-ETHERNET Cable. the wi-fi WILL go out while you’re at school. it’s just going to. so have an ethernet cable the proper length from the plug to your desk for your computer. (Note: ethernet is only best when the wi-fi is out. it connects to main campus computers and that’s dangerous. PLEASE only use when the wi-fi is down.)
NO!! list–leave this behind.
-your massive collection of books. I have too many here myself, but you’re not gonna read or use personal reference books as much as you think. Bring only what you use more than once a month.
-stereo system. no one likes overly noisy neighbors.
-pots and pans. unless you live in a swanky apartment dorm with a kitchen, you’re never gonna use that stuff. a coffee mug, bowl, and a microwave are as about as 4-star restaurant as you’re gonna get.
-movies in cases/videogames WITH cases. use a cd binder. works the same and saves space.
-a bunch of fancy clothes. you’ll really only need 2, maybe 3 nice outfits in art school. pack 2 weeks of tops with 1 week of pants. saves space and laundry you have to do if you alternate weeks. coats, jackets, and cardigans are up to your style.
-anything that takes up more floor space than your fridge or ottoman. UNLESS you know for a fact that you’re gonna set up your desk under your bed in a “T” formation, there’s not much room. so consider a floor pouf or a cushion to go behind the ottoman to make a seat with a back.
-a bunch of purses, shoes, or hats. Again, UNLESS you know exactly how the room is laid out it’s hard to figure out space. if you use a purse, 2 maybe 3 is the most you’ll need. shoes are basically this: everyday, everyday #2, shoes for rain/snow, 2 pairs of nicer shoes, and flip flops for the room if you don’t use houseshoes.
-your vast collection of coffee/tea mugs. I’m sorry, but you’re gonna have to pick favorites. at most you’ll use 2-3. I personally only have 1 here and then I have my water bottle.
Other than those things, check with your school list when it’s available to you to see what you need and what you don’t. Once you’ve filled the checklist THEN you can start bringing other things like books, pillows, electric kettles, irons, etc.
Every school is different, and KCAI has its own guidelines on what is or isn’t allowed. See what rules you can wiggle around and disguise based on your own needs. (aka not illegal stuff. duh. but like mattress pads and extension cords.
Now that the dorm is covered, let’s get to actual art stuff!
The short answer: every school’s different. and KCAI’s freshman/ foundations year is unique compared to other schools’. The reason being is that aside from animation and film, foundation year is like a free sample buffet on what majors there are. We have still lifes, charcoal, woodshop, illustration, writing, sculpture, painting, and individualized work all year. 2nd semester is when classes get more focused but still. it’s kinda crazy but really nice in the long run.
The budget that’s recommended IS a bit um… well… depends on the teacher. I personally had a teacher who liked for us to do a bunch of stuff without fully using our materials or would have assignments where new materials would run out and we’d have to buy more.
A safe budget for supplies is about $200 per semester. Now, that’s for supplies only. Take into account food and amazon shipping and emergencies for the rest of your $.
Stuff you’ll need that they don’t tell you in the beginning of the year
KCAI offers a “FOUNDATION KIT” at the beginning of the year that is about $250 all together. The list they give you is well organized so you can buy stuff on your own to save money. See what you already have or can buy for cheaper prices before you buy the kit.
Now, again, every teacher is different. Here’s the BASIC list based on mine and other friends’ experiences.
-glue gun. sold in the KCAI campus art store. usually comes with foundation kit. I got a nice Superbonder dual temp. gun at Hobby Lobby with a stand. Works great and has a long cord.
-more hot glue sticks than you thought was possible. sold in the KCAI campus art store. sculpture and cardboard are gonna be big parts in the beginning of the year, but you’ll be thankful later on. be SURE you’re using dual temp. sticks and the proper size for your glue gun.
-sandpaper/ sandpaper block. sold in the KCAI campus art store. not too expensive, like $5. the sanders are gonna be busy in woodshop.
-safety goggles. sold in the KCAI campus art store. wood dust and/chips hurt. just get some simple safety glasses.
-masks. sold in the KCAI campus art store. not too expensive. get a new one every 3 weeks. about 2 needed in total.
-measuring tape. sold in the KCAI campus art store. OR go to walmart/home depot for cheaper. mine is a 12 ft self-lock one. it’s pretty good.
-painter’s tape. sold in the KCAI campus art store. I think it comes in the foundation kit, but you’re gonna run out. get at walmart for cheaper.
-(not a need but it’s super helpful) trashbag taped to your desk. saves trips to the trashcan and helps your space stay tidier.
-speedball carver. sold in the KCAI campus art store. to carve screenprinting rubber stamps when you get into pattern. PERSONALLY I ordered a set of wood whittling tools on amazon that work the same, were cheaper, and work on more than just rubber stamps (pumpkin carving!!)
-baby wipes. you don’t really NEED these, as sinks exist, but when you work with charcoal and you don’t have enough time between the next drawing or lunch, these help a bunch.
-push pins. sold in the KCAI campus art store. teachers recommend the metal ones, I just use the clear plastic ones. less distracting when critiquing.
-BIG ruler, more of a yard stick. sold in the KCAI campus art store(?) I think it comes in the foundation kit, but you can always just buy a cheaper metal yard stick or share with a friend.
-drawing pencils. sold in the KCAI campus art store. comes with foundation kit. I’m not talking #2 pencil you use all the time, I’m talking 4B and 6H and such. Get a decent set with a sharpener.
-vine charcoal. sold in the KCAI campus art store. comes with foundation kit. this charcoal goes away FAST. get an extra box before classes start.
-white chalk. sold in the KCAI campus art store. for when your charcoal is just not erasing.
-X-acto knife. sold in the KCAI campus art store. comes with foundation kit. the blade is gonna dull down eventually so get an extra for later.
-box cutter. sold in the KCAI campus art store. think it comes with the foundation kit. Now, I personally am terrified of box cutters because I over-think injury possibilities, so I just use my x-acto knife (hello dull blades). But unless you’re a scaredy-cat like me, a simple box cutter is needed.
-cutting mat, self-healing. sold in the KCAI campus art store (I thiiiiink). those weird green mats you see in sewing sections or on artist speed-draws? yeah you’re gonna need one. Big is good, small is fine too.
Other stuff depends on the teacher. Trips to Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Blick, Creative Coldsnow (kansas city), or other places for supplies IS gonna happen. If you don’t drive, find friends who are doing supply runs too and carpool.
Art school is crazy and it’s fun, but it IS college. So keep a weekly schedule, take notes, and do your homework.