ArtSnacks May 2020 No-Box Art Box

It’s another totally legitimate ArtSnacks box, I swear! I mean the physical box I’ve been using for the mock unboxing in my videos lately IS an ArtSnacks box covered in printer paper so I can slap logos on it, but…

Hello, and welcome back to Jenna Gets Creative! Today I’m doing another No-Box Art Box challenge, and in case that intro wasn’t clear enough, today’s victim is an ArtSnacks offering. If you’re not familiar with the No-Box Art Box challenge, or you need a refresher, it’s quite simple.

Step #1: Pick any art or craft subscription box service out there, pick one of their boxes that was already sent out, and research what was in it. This is easier with companies that sell backdated boxes or post their own official unboxing videos because then you’ll have it all written out somewhere, but if other people unboxed it somewhere on the internet, you can find out what was sent.

Step #2: Match the box contents as close as possible using your own supplies, without using the actual box you’re replicating. Exact matches are fine if you own it from any source other than the exact box you’re recreating, but if you are using this challenge to re-do a box you actually received, try to match with different supplies.

Step #3: Do the challenge! Create artwork or make your craft using only the supplies you’ve matched for the box. Only add missing essentials such as paper, a pencil, or an eraser. If the original box had a prompt or theme, try to stick to it.
If you’re sharing your creations from the No-Box Art Box challenge anywhere on social media, use the hashtag #NoBoxArtBox, all one word, and feel free to send it to me as well if you want to make sure I see it. I am the originator of this challenge, and I do curate a master playlist of No-Box Art Box videos posted here on YouTube. Having your video appear in a playlist improves your views and discovery, so why not, right?

Today I’m recreating the latest ArtSnacks box, May 2020, and I’ll be doing the Plus edition with the extra supplies and specific paper type. I’m going to go through what came in the actual ArtSnacks boxes, both tiers, and what I’ve matched them with first. For visuals, watch the YouTube video version of this post! I’ve got clips of the actual products from the official ArtSnacks channel unboxing, and clips of the products I’m using from my mock unboxing, and these clips pop up as I begin the following sections talking about the individual products.

Just like with any other subscription box breakdown I do, I’ll have prices, subscription information, and a cost and savings breakdown below, and all prices and calculations will include USD, CAD, and Pounds Sterling. ArtSnacks usually uses the manufacturer’s recommended retail price (RRP) in USD, so I’ve grabbed those RRP values off of Dick Blick, but I’ve also gone and done some research on what these supplies from the original box actually cost out there in the wild, and I’ll compare the RRP total and real world totals in my calculations.

ArtSnacks has two tiers, the regular box which comes in the skinny box I used for the mock unboxing, and the Plus box, which comes in a box big enough to accommodate 9x12inch pads and canvases, and those boxes contain everything the regular box has plus a couple extras and a surface.

All May 2020 ArtSnacks boxes contained a four pack of Kingart Real Brush pens, a Tombow Irojiten coloured pencil, a Higgins India Ink pump marker, a Marabu Aqua Pen Graphix marker, and a Copic Multiliner. Plus boxes also contained a four pack of Marabu Fineliner Graphix in the Skyline set, and a 15-sheet Strathmore Bristol pad. Let’s talk about those and what I matched them with.

The Kingart Real Brush pens seem to be a new product, as I wasn’t able to find them “in the wild” anywhere, but product photos from the ArtSnacks shop look like Kuretake’s clean colour brush pens, Arteza’s Real Brush watercolour pens, or basically any other company’s watercolour markers with brush nibs made up of individual strands. Kingart packaged four different colour sets of four markers for ArtSnacks, and which set each subscription box got was random. The sets were Cool Tones, Warm Tones, Nature Tones, and Jewel Tones, and the ArtSnacks shop site claims that these four packs retail for $6.99 USD, which works out to $1.75 per pen.

I will be matching these with my Karin Brushmarker PRO watercolour markers, and I liked the look of the warm tones set, so I’m matching that one in particular. I’m using red, red orange, amber, and gold. These are liquid ink watercolour markers with flexible nylon Japanese style brush nibs.

The Tombow Irojiten coloured pencil is a high quality wax based pencil. Irojiten is the “professional” line coloured pencil from Tombow, though unlike most western art supply companies that call some of their products professional, Tombow has not released any lightfastness information on these or frankly any of their pencils. I haven’t used Irojitens myself, but from what I’ve heard and read they’re firmer than Prismacolor and lay down quite translucent layers of colour. These can be purchased open stock or in “color library” sets that come in cute little book-like cases. RRP on these open stock is $2.63 USD and any place that sells them open stock seems to stick to that, but most retailers do start pricing the sets at a discount.

The Tombow Irojiten coloured pencil is a high quality wax based pencil. Irojiten is the “professional” line coloured pencil from Tombow, though unlike most western art supply companies that call some of their products professional, Tombow has not released any lightfastness information on these or frankly any of their pencils. I haven’t used Irojitens myself, but from what I’ve heard and read they’re firmer than Prismacolor and lay down quite translucent layers of colour. These can be purchased open stock or in “color library” sets that come in cute little book-like cases. RRP on these open stock is $2.63 USD and any place that sells them open stock seems to stick to that, but most retailers do start pricing the sets at a discount.

Since I don’t have any Irojiten pencils, I’m using a Derwent Colorsoft pencil in the shade blush pink. The colours for ArtSnacks subscribers were random, so I grabbed a pencil at random. No particular reason for the colour choice beyond that!

The Higgins India Ink Pump Marker sent in the ArtSnacks boxes is specifically the 2mm chisel nib, and RRP on that item is $11.30 USD. This is, as the name implies, black India ink in a pump marker. Like most India inks, you can get watercolour effects if you act quick enough, but once you let it dry thoroughly, it’s permanent and waterproof. These markers used to be called Higgins Black Magic markers, to go along with their Black Magic bottled inks, but they rebranded the markers sometime in the last two years. These are cheaper in the wild in North America, but UK ArtSnacks subscribers are getting a deal. The only UK listing I could find for this marker was nearly £5 more than the converted RRP.

To match this, I’ll be using my tapered fine nib version of the same marker. Mine has a copyright year 2016 on it, and I received it in a 2018 SketchBox. It’s still kicking! If you were to do this particular box and you don’t have this marker, then depending on the techniques you want to do with it, you’ve got two options: Match with a black marker of a similar nib but not necessarily an India Ink pump marker, OR grab some black India Ink and a paint brush.

The Marabu Aqua Pen Graphix marker is a dual-nibbed water based marker. One end is a felt brush nib, while the other is a fine nib. (Usual PSA here: don’t type the word “bullet” when referring to fine nibs in YouTube comments unless you replace a letter with something else. It’s a restricted word on the platform, and your comment will be lost to the void. Not sent to spam, just gone.) The ArtSnacks website claims that these have an RRP of $3 USD per marker, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a retailer selling them open stock. You can get these markers in themed sets of 6, or as a complete colour range set. If you do the math for per-marker prices on the 6 packs, once again, pretty much any retailer is going to give you a much better deal than RRP, though for UK retailers only just barely. That may be due to stock shortages right now, because this is a European brand, so it makes no sense that they’d be more expensive in the UK like the Higgins product.

To match this, I’m using the exact marker. I have 8 of these, all from subscription boxes in the past, including two from an ArtSnacks box from last year. The colour given out this time was assorted, so I got to choose. Unfortunately the only nice warm colour I have to go with the warm Karin markers I picked is a yellow, and it’s far too close to the yellow Karin marker I picked, so I went with a mid shade neutral grey. If you were to do this box and you don’t have these markers, any water-based marker will do.

The Copic Multiliner is a black pigment ink fineliner with a metal clad nib. These are a water-based pigment ink that is permanent once dry, and they’ve been specifically formulated to resist smudging under alcohol inks. Everyone got a 0.3mm nib. RRP on open stock Multiliners is $3.99 USD, but you can find them cheaper in the wild pretty much everywhere they’re sold.

I have a lot of Copic Multiliners in all sizes, so I’m using this exact pen, but if you were matching it with something else, the important factors are 0.3mm nib size, and permanent or waterproof black ink. Most fineliners that don’t label their nib size are either 0.3mm or 0.5mm.

The Plus bonus art supplies was the four pack of fineliners from Marabu, the Marabu Fineliner Graphix Skyline Set. This is a four pack of water-based, non-permanent fineliners in 0.5mm nibs. They’re all the same size, but different colours: black, blue, green, and red. You can buy these in the Skyline set four pack, or in two larger colour range sets, but I’ve never seen them offered open stock. RRP for the four set is $7.49 USD. They’re cheaper in the wild in North America, but for some reason quite a bit more expensive in the wild in the UK at the moment. Again, possibly due to current events and product shortages.

Although I have lots of Marabu products, I only have their permanent black fineliners, so I’ll be using Staedtler Triplus fineliners in the appropriate colours. I believe Triplus are also 0.5mm nibs, and they are water soluble, so they’ll do the trick just fine.

Last but not least, the surface provided in the Plus box is the Strathmore 400 Series Vellum Surface Bristol pad. This is 15 sheets of 9x12inch smooth Bristol, and RRP is $12.59 USD. Like any Strathmore paper offering, though, retailers in the wild always offer them much cheaper, sometimes as much as 50% off RRP. Plus boxes always look like an awesome savings when you add up the RRP numbers, but remember how much you’d save on just the paper alone if you bought the supplies from somewhere else.

I don’t have the 400 series, but I do have this 500 series Smooth Bristol pad laying around, and it’s also 9×12, so let’s go with that.

I cut a sheet in half so I could swatch my supplies first, and I’m SO glad I did. Not even the Karin markers activated nicely with water when applied directly to the paper, and that means this paper is soaking the ink in way too fast. Good to know! So anywhere I wanted watercolour effects, which was pretty much the entire piece, I scribbled with all my pens onto plastic, and picked up the ink from there with my brush. And yes, by the way, that is a lid from a Gatorade powder can. I collect plastic lids like this for use as mixing palettes and ink collection. My husband is a big fan of Pringles chips, so you’ll see me using those lids often.

I’m using a generic medium sized round waterbrush, and my sketching was done using a Staedtler Noris erasable coloured pencil. Near the end when I was playing around with texture in the lion’s mane I did pull out a couple other brushes – a Princeton Neptune script brush and a generic round in size 2, but I ended up going back to the waterbrush. I think this piece looks better with the less refined brush strokes in the spots where I meant for them to show, and I like how easy it is to vary the concentration of the wash you’re getting with a waterbrush pen.

I had been considering cheating and bringing in a white gel pen at the end, but I didn’t actually feel like anything really needed it when I was done. Maybe a little shine on the eyes, but they are already quite bright and well shaded.

I’m not entirely sure what to call the art style I ended up using here. What do you think? The lion’s face is realism, but the mane definitely isn’t . Part of me wants to say surrealism, but I don’t think that’s quite right. I haven’t juxtaposed the lion with something completely ridiculous; I’ve just filled the rest of the painting with his mane in an unrealistic combination of colours.

Whatever style it is, I like it! This was a lot of fun.

Did you know non-permanent fineliners can be used this way? Have you ever done it?

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #NoBoxArtBox, all one word, if you try this challenge. You don’t have to do this particular box, do any body you like! You’re even free to adapt it to other types of boxes.


The May 2020 ArtSnacks Box inlcuded:

[4] Kingart Real Brush Pens
RRP $6.99 USD ($1.75ea) | $9.82 CAD | £5.68
4 pack of watercolour markers in cool, warm, natural, or jewel tones
Could not find prices in the wild, as this is a very new product!

[1] Higgins India Ink Pump Marker
RRP $11.30 USD | $15.88 CAD | £9.18
2mm chisel nib pump marker containing black India ink
Dick Blick 6.92 USD
Island Blue $11.95 CAD
Amazon UK £13.90

[1] Tombow Irojiten Coloured Pencil
RRP $2.63 USD | $3.70 CAD | £2.14
Wax based coloured pencil, assorted colours
Dick Blick $1.87ea USD in sets
Amazon CA $2.41ea CAD in sets
Cult Pens £1.36ea in sets

[1] Marabu Aqua Pen Graphix
RRP $3 USD | $4.22 CAD | £2.44
Waterbased dual nibbed marker (nylon brush and fine)
Dick Blick $1.92ea USD in sets
Curry’s $2.40ea CAD in sets
Amazon UK £2.24ea in sets

[1] Copic Multiliner
RRP $3.99 USD | $5.61 CAD | £3.24
0.3mm metal clad nib fineliner featuring water based pigment ink, permanent
Dick Blick $3.40 USD
Curry’s $4.25 CAD
Cult Pens £3.13

[Plus] [4] Marabu Fineliner Graphix Skyline Set
RRP $7.49 USD | $10.52 CAD | £6.08
Water soluble 0.5mm fineliners in black, blue, green & red
Dick Blick $6.15 USD
Curry’s $6.99 CAD
Amazon UK £14.05

[Plus] Strathmore 400 Series Vellum Surface Bristol
RRP $12.59 USD | $17.69 CAD | £10.23
9×12 inch pad, 15 sheets
Dick Blick $7.99 USD
Above Ground $10.99 CAD
Jackson’s £8.58

REGULAR Box RRP Total: $27.91 USD | $39.23 CAD | £22.68
In the Wild: $21.10 USD | $30.93 CAD | $26.81

PLUS Box RRP Total: $47.99 USD | $67.44 CAD | £38.990
In the Wild: $35.24 USD | $48.91 CAD | £49.44

ArtSnacks Regular subscriptions start at $24 USD per month in the USA and $34 USD per month international, and get cheaper by $2 and $4 USD respectively with 6 month pre-pay and 12 month pre-pay plans.

ArtSnacks Plus costs $39 USD per month (plus shipping) for all customers, with a savings of $5.75 USD per box on a 12 moth pre-pay plan. In my experience, Plus box shipping has been $10 USD per box.

Month to Month Subscriber RRP Savings Calculations:
USA-Regular $27.91 – $24 = $3.91 USD
USA-Plus $47.99 – $49 = $-2.99 USD
CAN-Regular $39.23 – $47.23 = $-8 CAD
CAN-Plus $67.44 – $68.07 = $-.063 CAD
UK-Regular £22.68 – £27.74 = £-5.06
UK-Plus £38.99 – £39.98 = £-0.99

6-Month Subscriber RRP Savings Calculations:
USA-Regular $27.91 – $22 = $5.91 USD
CAN-Regular $39.23 – $44.45 = $-5.22 CAD
UK-Regular £22.68 – £26.11 = £-3.43

12-Month Subscriber RRP Savings Calculations:
USA-Regular $27.91 – $20 = $3.91 USD
USA-Plus $47.99 – $43.25 = $4.74 USD
CAN-Regular $39.23 – $41.67 = $-2.44 CAD
CAN-Plus $67.44 – $60.08 = $7.36 CAD
UK-Regular £22.68 – £24.48 = £-1.80
UK-Plus £38.99 – £35.29 = £3.70

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