The 2013 Fabulous Awards


Paints and Pencils are Top Winners in the First-Ever Fabulous Product Awards from Art Materials Retailer





Last summer, Robert Riding from Flax Art & Design in San Francisco recom-mended these acrylics, saying “they are among the newest innovations in the world of acrylic paint. Thanks to their slow drying time, artists can work on one project over a course of weeks.”

Artists can extend the paints’ open time by using a fine mist of water or a moist brush. When they want it to dry quicker, they just stop using extra moisture.

Atelier Interactive is available in 75 different colors and comes in  2.7-ounce tubes (80 ml) and 8.4-ounce jars (250 ml). A selection of colors is also available in 33.8-ounce jars (1 liter).

Here’s what we heard from artists who use them.

Adrian Deckbar from New Orleans, wrote: “Fantastic and much-needed product! After 35 years of painting in oils and using toxic solvents, I can get very similar results and strong, bright, blendable colors with the extensive palette. My work is selling the best it ever has, my clients are thrilled and the galleries are ecstatic! Thank you for saving my art career.”

“These are my favorite acrylics. Not only do they open working and blending times, they don’t look like plastic afterwards,” wrote Victoria Lansford, Atlanta.

“I was an oil painter looking to convert to acrylics,” commented Lory Lockwood, also from New Orleans. “I have tried a lot of products and the Interactives are the best. They can work just like oils, and even better and faster.”



“The color on them is fantastic for their price point, and they come in 24 brilliant colors,” noted Liz Walsh from The Drawing Board in Vermont, who recom-mended them to Art Materials Retailer last fall. “The woodless aspect, which enhances their brightness, really causes them to stand out on our shelves.”

The pencils create vibrant and durable artwork, says Chartpak’s website, because the pigments are highly concentrated and “perfectly dispersed.” The oils and binders used help artists create dense, even strokes without applying a lot of pressure, and there is reduced lead loss from sharpening because they’re woodless. In addition, the colors maintain excellent light permanency.

“These pencils are great!” said the folks from Artist & Craftsman Supply in Berkley. “They are amazing!” added California artist Elizabeth Mehalick Ibarra, who works at Michaels. “The colors are bold and woodless – all you get is color, which makes them very versatile and easy to work with.”

“My favorite pencils,” said Doreen Chambers from Swansea, Illinois. “I use them with Gamsol to color my stamped cards.”



“I sell Prismacolor Colored Pencils all day long,” said Adam Gilliam from Adam’s Art & Supply in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, last fall. “Pencils are just flying off the shelves.”

There are many kinds, ranging from Softcore pencils that offer smooth color laydown for superior blending and shading; to Watercolor Pencils that create translucent effects when used with water and a brush. Art Stix are designed for cov-ering large areas; while Verithin pen-cils are perfect for detailing, lettering and cleaning up edges. The Scholar line is for beginners and developing artists, and come in an erasable version. The Prismacolor Mixed Media set features a variety of Soft Core colored pencils, Verithins, Watercolors and Art Stix.

Artist Keith Barrett from Ghana posted this on our facebook page: “Prismacolor colored pencils were the first ‘artist’ grade supplies that I purchased as a kid, first learning that I love art. They still hold a special place in my heart.”


Seven Runners Up

  • Faber-Castell Drawing Pencils
  • Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks
  • Ampersand Panels (a selection of different surfaces)
  • Copic Markers
  • Princeton brushes, the 6300 series
  • Ampersand Gesso Boards
  • Derwent Inktense Pencils and Blocks from ColArt Americas


Why Awards are Important

Compared to a typical Walmart super-store that carries more than 140,000 SKUs, or Amazon that offers about 10 million products, your specialty art materials store cares less about volume and more about a curated selection of supplies that customers will love and buy. The very act of placing items on your store’s shelves shows shoppers that out of the millions of choices out there, you believe that these particular ones are worthy of their attention.

Selection is not always easy, but helping you is data on customer feedback, expert advice, ratings, reviews and award winners. People love award winners – the work has already been done and “the best” have been selected.

But not all award programs are created equal – does the judge(s) have the expertise you’d expect? Is there a fee associated with entering? Who nominates the pool of products?

In the case of our first-ever Fabulous Product Awards, art materials retailers are the judges. And they know what sells to artists and why. They were the nominators, and started us off by recommending products for our “Retailers Recommend” columns last year. This year, they voted on facebook and at the NAMTA show, choosing 10 winners out of 64 nominees.

There is little formal recognition in our world for art materials, especially compared to awards for what’s created with them, or even compared to the honors other industries bestow on their products (The World Cheese Awards, The Best Toys for Kids, Car of the Year). We collected lists of awards that we thought you’d find helpful, and are presenting them on the next page as well. Congratulations to all.

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