London drawing Cholo Apolo

10 tips to save money as an artist or designer living in London

During times of recession and general economic challenges, we artists and designers (as well as many other professions) might also be affected by unemployment and the reduction of commissions.  For this reason it’s very important to make sure we keep an eye on our expenses. Especially if you are just starting out from college/university or have just moved into this amazing yet expensive city called London.

Many of these tips will apply to everyone, not just us artists. So have a good read if you want to learn of better ways to save your money.

Don’t buy in convenience stores.

Convenience stores are always more expensive. So if you want to help your wallet, simply only use them for emergencies. Walk a little and take your grocery shopping to cheaper places like Lidl or Aldi and try buying the food that is in season – usually the stores will have these products in surplus making them cheaper. And also always check for the weekly offers – many places provide weekly/monthly magazines that will help update you on upcoming deals. Feed your creativity, eat healthy and your mind will keep producing wonderful ideas.


Only buy clothes that are on Sale and customise them with your own style

Wait for the various sales throughout the year to buy clothes, these are mainly around national holidays or back to school/college dates. If you can’t afford buying those expensive designer clothes, remember that you are also a designer and you can customise your own clothes too, there are many ways. For example, you could use Fabric markers to paint your own t-shirts. Or like I did with my own trainers, you could use Posca markers to paint your white Converse Chuck Tailor sneakers.


Going out in London doesn’t mean you always have to spend a lot of money.

Living in London gives you plenty of choices and opportunities to go out. But if you really want to save some money try spending your time in the free exhibitions of galleries and museums. Not only do you get out of the house but you can also get some great inspiration, there are many of them but the most popular are The National Gallery, The British Museum, The Tate Modern, The National Portrait Gallery, The Victoria and Albert Museum, and The Wallace Collection.

Do not miss the First Thursdays of the month in Shoreditch – East London. This amazing free event enables exhibitors and galleries to showcase their collections and the opening of any new art exhibitions to the wider public all around Shoreditch. This is a good day when you can go to many different art galleries, see some outstanding art work, meet nice creative people, and have some drinks for free!!

Art galleries not to miss in East London: Whitechapel Gallery, StolenSpace, Graffik GalleryPure Evil.


Search always for discounts and offers.

If you are planning to go out, or need to do some shopping, remember to always look for any discount or offers going on at Wowcher and Vouchercodes.


Get some Cashback when buying for artist materials.

You can get Cashback when buying your art materials through TopCashBack, simply sign up and search for ‘art’, you will then get some links to art material suppliers. Click on the appropriate link and go shopping, you will then get the Cashback amount some days after you made the purchase.

If you can’t wait for a delivery and need your art materials right now, then your best option I think is to go to Atlantis Art Materials store in East London. I think this must be the biggest art materials shop I have ever seen and I reckon they usually have the best prices for art materials too.

For fellow graffiti artists, the recommendation is to check Chrome and Black, where you can find spray cans at good price, this shop is also in East London.


Buy a drawing tablet.

Art materials are expensive, so if you want to save some money then try buying a drawing tablet. Just think of the endless possibilities… With a drawing tablet you can; have unlimited colours and brushes, draw and erase whenever you want, have as many layers as you want and you will definitely save a lot on art materials. Here the important question is, which drawing tablet to buy? There are so many in the market. But my recommendation is to save money using all the saving tips on this page, so you can then buy the best professional tool. Which many digital artists would say is the Wacom Cintiq, however if you want to have something that you can take easily with you anywhere, then the recommendation would be to get an iPad Pro.


Don’t over pay in bills.

Make sure you visit Comparethemarket so you can always get the best deal for your situation at that time. Don’t be afraid of changing your energy or broadband supplier, remember that your circumstances are always changing so it’s worth searching for new plans regularly. And if your contract offer has already expired then you will most definitely be able to find a better deal with a new offer.


Work from home.

If you are a digital artist, an illustrator or a designer, you should easily be able to work from home, especially now during COVID-19 times. However when these strange times are over, definitely push to keep working from home if possible. You will save money in transport and meals and most London companies should allow you to do it.


Always study to improve and get new skills.

The best investment you can always make is in yourself, so always try to study and learn new skills, or improve the skills you already have. This will help you get ahead of your competitors if you are working for yourself, or will give you the possibility to apply for a better paid job in a new company. Studying new skills have become very cheap now due to online courses that can be found in websites like Udemy.


Use a budget app.

There are many of them that you can download in your phone. They’ll help you keep control of your expenses, which is very important especially if you are freelancing as a designer or illustrator.