While Gas Prices Decline, Cost of Artist Materials Soars


Mixing paint. photo Gamblin/vimeo


In recent months, as the price of crude oil plummeted, sending gasoline below a $3-per-gallon nationwide average for the first time in some years, most manufacturers as well as consumers are starting to reap the benefits. But for many artists, the situation’s positive effects won’t be felt. According to a recent report in the Huffington Post, against this hopeful backdrop, the price of paints and other artists supplies have risen dramatically in recent years.

“There have been increases in the prices of artists’ materials of about 10-20 percent over the past several years,” the owner of New York Central Art Supply stated. “When prices go up, sales are affected, but maybe not as much. I think that artists are just absorbing the price increases, maybe buying a little less of things at a time.”

Common ingredients most widely used in the creation of artists’ supplies are sharply on the rise. “Cadmiums have gone up 50 percent in the last five years,” said George O’Hanlon, technical director of Natural Pigments, of Willits, California. “The raw materials in our lead white have increased 100 percent during that same period of time. Pigment manufacturing is moving away from heavy metals,” adding that artists not willing to pay double what they had in the past have turned to less expensive substitutes, such as titanium white.

In the past several years, acrylic binders have gone up between 10 and 40 percent, according to Art Guerra, founder of Guerra Paint and Pigments. Guerra attributed the rise to the fact that manufacturers of acrylics are being bought up by “bigger chemical companies, like Dow and BASF, passing the costs of the of the acquisition onto consumers.”

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