Teenagers are complicated, hard to read, and almost impossible to please, no matter how much you try, so what should be the perfect gifts for teenage artists? Although we can’t guarantee you will receive the minimum of appreciation for putting so much effort into finding the perfect gift, you still need to celebrate your teen’s birthday and embrace his or her personality.
So, if you’re looking for inspiration to please the artistic side of your kid, sibling, or relative, here are some of the ideas we came up with so far.
An old camera/instant camera
If your teen is into photography, the best way to support their personality and allow them to express themselves through their art is an old photo camera on film. You can find these objects in antique shops, at fairs, and even at garage sales or online. Depending on how old and functional the camera is, expect to pay several dozens or even hundreds of dollars.
However, film cameras have a series of disadvantages such as a fixed number of positions, which means every shot must matter, and the requirement of a red room to develop the photos.
If your garage or basement space is limited or your teen doesn’t know how to handle a film camera, another good option would be an instant camera, similar to the old Polaroids.
There are several great options on the market for a fraction of the cost of a DSLR camera or an old photo camera. Prices usually range under $100 and the only thing you have to worry about is buying paper supplies. The Instax Mini 90 from Fujifilm is one of the most popular choices as it is small, compact, easy to use, and available in a wide variety of colors.
If you’re looking for something edgier or more professional, you can try the Lomo’ Instant Automat with a wider angle lens suitable for selfies, and various exposure features.
A DIY shirt paint kit
Teens and tweens alike express their bold, changing personalities through fashion. And what better way to help your child become who they want if not by learning to design their own clothes? This may not turn your kid into a fashion designer but it is a great way to have some fun with clothes.
Look for these kits online or in stores, at the section for arts and crafts. Most of these kits contain a few plain white or black T-shirts, as well as a set of accessories and acrylic paints and brushes to create a statement line. It’s important to look for non-toxic dyes and those that are water-resistant so your shirt will still hold your original print even after you’ve washed it.
Depending on the age of your kid, you can find DIY sets that also contain ironing batches, colorful strings, pompons, sequins, and other accessories that will make you stand out from the crowd.
If your teens are still at the beginning with their arts and crafts projects, there are also DIY kits for Christmas sweaters and even holiday socks. They are complete with a small sewing kit, colorful strings, and other ornaments for a festive look. The main difference is that there are only a few accessories available so you don’t have to consider dyes or paints.
Jewelry art sets
Another interesting choice for those with a good eye for accessories would be a jewelry set. Unlike the ones with plastic beads and strings that every little girl dreams of when she’s 4, these sets contain semi-precious stones, metals, chains, beads, leather, and other cutting and trimming materials specifically designed to create unique necklaces, bracelets, and even rings.
If you have the money or your child is really interested, there are also portable machines for bending or melting copper wires, and even silver, so you can create unique and high-quality pieces of jewelry. However, these machines require proper training before using them, as well as special safety measures to prevent accidents. We only recommend them for teenagers over the age of 16-17.
If you’re not keen on spending a small fortune for jewelry supplies for your teen, another good option would be to sign her or him for special jewelry making classes where they can learn from professionals and even turn their hobby into a full job.
Classes and magazine subscriptions
No matter what hobby your teenager picked up, it is important to show support for their passion. A monthly subscription to their favorite magazine is a thoughtful and affordable gift they will cherish but so are specific classes. From pottery to acting classes, drawing, painting, or any other hobby, the best way to help your child pursue their passion is to offer them the means to do so.
However, we recommend waiting until your child is certain this is not something they will lose interest in after just a couple of weeks. Explain to your kid the value of money and that you are willing to support their passion, as long as this is what they want.
Don’t forget that extracurricular activities shouldn’t interfere with your teenager’s school curricula so you also need to make sure they have enough physical time to pick up a new hobby, apart from all the homework and school projects and their favorite sport if any.
Painting and drawing can become expensive, especially for beginner artists who are still learning about proportions and the right color schemes. And, since practice makes perfect, the only way your child will improve their talent and even be recognized later on is if they have enough supplies to practice.
Unfortunately, a professional set of painting and drawing tools, including colors, crayons, brushes, and canvas can cost a small fortune, and not many can afford them.
Throughout the centuries, struggling artists had very limited funds and this happened no matter how popular the painter became after his or her death. Some couldn’t afford to buy a new canvas each time they had an idea for a new painting, so they reused the old ones, which means they destroyed some of their early sketches and work to make room for new art.
Make sure your teenager doesn’t go through the same thing and has enough tools to practice his or her talent. If the supplies are too expensive in the long run, consider asking help from the local community centers.
A brand new instrument
Arts is not just about painting, drawing, and photography. It is also about music and the joy you have making it and sharing it with the public. However, picking up a new instrument usually implies big initial costs, especially when it comes to the instrument itself.
Guitars, violins, a new set of drums, and a mini recording studio can cost up to several thousand dollars, even when you’re considering second-hand instruments and lower-quality accessories. Nevertheless, if you can support your kid’s dream, you should do it.
The music he or she is creating may not “sound” good for your ears but remember it is a good way to express one’s feelings and evolve. Writing down songs represents an excellent rhyming and vocabulary practice, while the music itself is known to develop various parts of the brain and support the cognitive process, and even improve memory and learning abilities.
If you cannot afford to buy your kid a brand new guitar, we suggest visiting yard sales, second-hand stores, or looking online for a good product. Remember that the guitar must be in excellent shape and should sound amazing, no matter which string you pull. If you have doubts, ask a friend or someone who knows more about instruments to tell you if it’s a good investment.
Generally speaking, if there are no flaws, most guitars made from real quality wood will age beautifully and will even produce deeper sounds with time. The same goes for other wood-made instruments, especially violins, violas, and ukuleles.
A brand new set of strings should be the only additional cost of an instrument, regardless if you buy it new or used. Those that come with a damaged bridge or fretboard may cost even more to repair and are not worth the trouble, especially if we’re talking about a mass-made instrument and not a handmade one.
Tickets to concerts or art gallery shows
Finally, another way to support your teenager’s artsy side means investing in his or her education, and this means going to as many cultural events as possible.
Tickets to plays, concerts, the opera, or the brand new art gallery exposition in town represent good ways to support local artists and give your kid a chance to learn more about the process of becoming a true artist.
Even museums of contemporary art are an open gate for learning new techniques and understanding how people used to paint or draw in the past.