Arteza Art Supplies Review - Watercolor Paper, Metallic Watercolor, Mica Powders, Gouache, Willow Charcoal, Lightfast Tests.
Arteza is an American art supply company that primarily sources their goods from China and Korea. They offer budget friendly watercolor, gouache and acrylic paints as well as cellulose or cotton watercolor papers, mica pigment powders, color pencils, markers, pens etc.
My favorite Arteza products include 100% cotton watercolor paper, willow vine charcoal and mica powders (dry metallic/pearlescent pigment in plastic jars). The mica (a shiny silicate mineral PW20, laminated with secondary undisclosed pigments) can be used for mixing into resin or with a paint binder (gum arabic for making metallic watercolor, linseed oil for oil paints, clear acrylic medium for acrylic paints, starch or egg for tempera etc.).
In their 60 mica powder set, 45 of the colors are lightfast suitable for long term wall display. All of the colors are beautiful for art destined for print reproduction, journals or stored away from window lighting. Like all brands of mica, the pink-red colors are the most sensitive to light, otherwise the lemongrass and tangerine (bright yellow and orange) are the most fugitive:
This company has a massive selection of various product types. This includes supplies for kids, teachers or office / work environments (pens, sharpeners, dry erase boards) in addition to coloring materials for artists. Most of the art supplies are aimed at beginners (primarily students, but even adults new to art) they offer a variety of colored pencils and paints that you may see marked as "premium" quality. Most of these are a decent student grade, but are not made with long term wall display in mind.
While the occasional color is lightfast, they overall make fugitive coloring materials suitable for beginners, students or anyone on a budget. They are best for practice. sketchbooks or arrt scanned for prints/digital reproduction only. Their affordable art supplies are attractive to those looking for large color sets, mostly for those who are not interested in learning color mixing. (The 60 color watercolor and gouache sets often have redundant colors that are just mixtures of other colors in the set.) Their watercolor tube sets have some chalky binder issues that cause the paints to crack if dried in the pan, so if you want dry pans choose their pre-made pan sets instead.
The quality of their half-pan sized watercolors that come in metal tins is similar to other Chinese brands like Superior/Artsy watercolors. The gouache tubes are better than the watercolor tubes, similar to the Himi or Arttx brand gouache sets. Some of their labeling makes their origin difficult to discern at a glance (showing a larger American flag, but in smaller text saying "Made in PRC" aka Peoples Republic of China). Of course you may choose to shop from any country you'd like, my problem with this is that it appears intentionally misleading. Like many companies at this time, they are basically a middle man that packages Asian made goods to sell in America. Here's how they label their goods:
They have a 24 half pan metallic watercolor set, made from mica powders mixed with mostly fugitive secondary pigments. Mica being a white/clear natural silicate mineral that is reflective / shiny. This pigment (PW20) is then mixed with other colors to create colorful glitter / pearlescent / metal appearance colors like silver, gold, copper and rainbow shimmer paints.
How do you say Arteza? Oops. I've heard this name pronounced Art-EH-za or Art-EEZ-ah, even varying in their own promotional videos. Though you may hear artists say it either way, even both from myself on accident time to time. I have since confirmed it with them as being a long e (eez/ease).
Here are the results of my one year lightfast test for the metallic watercolor paints. Many of these colors start to fade in as little as 3 months, with drastic fading by 1 year. Nine of the colors fade very quickly compared to lightfast paints (LFI rated paints remain unchanged for well over a year in this type of repeat daily window sunlight).
I have also tested their gouache paints (opaque watercolor). These are very nice for the price aside from lightfastness. It's easier for gouache to be acceptable in student brands because of the opacity fillers, such as chalk, being acceptable for a way to make this traditionally opaque and matte paint. Like their tube watercolors, they break and crumble into chunks in a pan so I do not advise using them from a dry state.
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I have used their sketchbooks (cellulose / wood pulp) for student/beginner use, as well as their professional "expert" level papers (including a cotton based watercolor paper). They have many types of paper with similar covers. Please pay close attention to the writing on them, as often it is hard to tell which ones are cotton, pulp, single sided or double coated (with a "sizing" starch or gelatin to accept watercolor paints equally well on both sides). The cotton paper is quite nice, however the price is not particularly competitive compared to common artist favorites like Arches or Winsor and Newton Pro cotton watercolor papers. The Arteza pads that don't specifically say 100% cotton, but still say EXPERT, are tree pulp/cellulose and may not hold up over decades in the same way as the more durable cotton fiber papers. I didn't care for the sketchbook that use a lighter, flimsier cardstock-like paper (too fragile and absorbent for serious work). I can only recommend the cotton paper for pro use/art to sell/long term diplay, but be sure to pay close attention to the tiny text on the top. The right version below says "double sided" (single sided version may absorb color oddly on the reverse side, but the texture should be fairly obvious regarding the "correct" side). This tiny print is where you'll likely see notes about if the paper is cotton:
I also bought some of their watercolor brush pens. They are filled with fugitive watersoluble dye based inks that reactivate and blend like "watercolor". The Ash Black and some of their gray colors have a formula made from multiple colors of dyes combined to make black, which can cause a neat color separation effect in wet washes.
In the past year I have heard increasing artist complaints about varying quality in their color pencil line. It's likely that old reviews for their products may become irrelevant over time due to the inconsistent nature of these products. You can find out more about that from Lindsay The Frugal Crafter here.
View the Arteza catalog of products on their website:
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