Concordia’s art store puts the pain in painting.
The DeSerres employee is tired of seeing my face. That’s the only way to explain his eyebrow raise as I trudge into the Atwater station art supply store for the tenth time this week. He’s seen it all, from my frantic rush to find oil paints 30 minutes before my first class to the avalanche of pastels I caused in the third aisle. He hasn’t seen the last of me, though—I’m beginning to think I’ll spend more of this semester in the DeSerres than I will in the studio.
My loyalty to the business is caused by necessity, not by choice. Professors stress the importance of well-sourced materials, but a lack of viable options forces students to take what they can get. At the start of the semester, I hoped I would be able to furnish my supply needs entirely through Concordia’s art store (for those who aren’t aware, the art store is located in the basement of the LB building, just past the bookstore) as I assumed it would be the most affordable and accessible option. A single visit proved my assumption wrong: I discovered high prices and a shocking lack of stock. With the store missing even the basics, I turned to the next logical option.
Of course, supporting a chain store is not ideal. It is important to be proud of where your materials come from and the resources you use to create your work. Buying from smaller local shops is always possible, but many small businesses are out of the way (and therefore inconvenient for frequent visits) or overpriced. Artists—especially student artists—are short on time and money as is. “I think it’s ironic that the main resource for art supplies on campus isn’t budget friendly,” says Andrea Chenier, a third-year studio art and art history major.
At the same time, buying required books is alarmingly easy. At the bookstore, reading material is organized in alphabetical order in sleek stacks, which makes finding books a breeze. If a book is on your syllabus, it’s likely to be at the bookstore. Used books are displayed at a reduced price, ensuring a second option for those who don’t want to spend too much. Why, then, does the same system not apply at the art store? Surely, stock should be determined by demand—and this demand is high across the demographic. With Concordia being a university well-known for its fine arts programs, and Montréal being a city renowned for its art scene, our lack of options is pitiful.
A better-stocked art store may seem like a frivolous wish, but it would improve the artistic processes of countless students. A well-rounded art store means less stress and less money spent. Most of all, it means far less time at DeSerres. But while I’m here, should I get a points card? Might as well.