I think I speak for more than myself when I say that it’s every artist’s dream to get free art supplies. Who among us hasn’t had the fantasy of suddenly accumulating a vast wealth of colors, mediums, and canvases, all free of charge? I know I’m not alone here.
Although not quite on the scale of vast, art supply wealth, there may come a time where you are approached by an art supply company to review one of their products. They may offer to send you samples, and will ask for your honest feedback. This sounds amazing, right? It is; being sent products simply because a company thinks your work is amazing is quite the ego boost, and I’ve discovered a few tips to help you make the most out of your review experience and maybe even turn that review into a sponsorship.
First things first: if you are ever approached by a company who offers to send you free product in exchange for a favorable review, run! There are many lower quality companies out there that have great packaging and fancy websites that will offer to send you free things, things you can keep, if you give them a positive public review. It’s one thing if you really love the product, but never compromise your business/personal name by promising a good review regardless of the product’s quality; that’s a good way to lose the respect of your fellow artists.
Not all companies are like this, in fact, the vast majority of reputable companies will ask you for your honest opinion. Don’t be afraid to be direct. If the product doesn’t mix well, isn’t pigmented enough, has a flimsy surface, etc., give this feedback in an organized way to your contact at the company. They will genuinely appreciate good, honest feedback.
One of my first reviews was of a paint company. Initially, they sent me paint that was defective in almost every way; the blue wouldn’t come out of the tube because the cap broke and I had to cut the tube open, the red was so thick that it couldn’t be squeezed out, and all of the colors were so clumpy that they wouldn’t mix with my Floetrol! I realized that there was no way this company could possibly have quality this bad; after all, I had heard other artist friends refer to their paint as “amazing” and “the best.”
Instead of making a snap judgement, I reached out to them to give them another chance. It was cold where I live in Upstate New York when they sent the paint, so maybe the extreme temperatures compromised the integrity of the products. Maybe there was a slight manufacturing error. The company was grateful that I gave them a second chance, and immediately sent out more product.
What I’m saying is, remember that you have, by accepting these products, entered into at least a temporary working relationship with this company. Keep open communication throughout the process if there are some strange anomalies with your products, and give the company a chance to rectify things if possible; that way, you get the full customer experience, too.
Actually Review the Products
I hate to have to say this because I want to believe that every artist in our community is honest, but sadly, it must be said; please, if you are trusted by a company to review their products, don’t ghost them. Many larger supply companies will not send out products for review anymore because artists re-sell their products, or the artists receive the products and never offer any feedback.
If you’re new at reviewing, it’s understandable that you might be overwhelmed by the process; if that’s the case, simplify your review process to include the most important bullet points.
- What did you create with the product?
- Product usage:
- Paint: did you mix it with anything?
- Surface: did you prime it with anything?
- Medium: did you add any other ingredients besides paint, like silicone or dimethicone?
- Product usage:
- What specific color, size and/or amount of the product did you use?
- What was your first impression when you were preparing the product for use?
- What was your impression of the product while your piece was still wet?
- How did the product dry?
- Was the packaging easy to use?
- Was the product pigmented enough, smooth enough, etc.?
- Was there anything you would improve?
A review should be about your personal experience with the product; the company wants to hear your story, and imagine your journey with it. This is valuable information to them; they can use your feedback to correct issues in their manufacturing process, or to just take a general reading of how their product performs if they’ve recently made changes. Your review should be concise, professional, and should have a complete narrative of your start to finish usage of the product.
Reviewing products is thrilling! Personally, I don’t live in an area where I get to talk about art a lot; so to have a company ask me for my input is pretty flattering! Just make sure that you’re doing your due diligence by only reviewing and supporting companies that fit your particular mission, give honest feedback, and follow through on your promises to review so that your business and personal name stay intact and golden.