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Making Art Work: Authentically Gifting Art

“Welcome to the Making Art Work Series! Through this accumulating and growing collection of resource articles, we hope to give insight and suggestions to artists in their journey to becoming their most successful creative selves!” 


As cliché as it is to have the Holidays in mind before Thanksgiving starts, it’s not the worst idea to begin preparing gifts for next month, especially if you are creative! What we will be talking about in this article is how an artist can industrialize their craft to deliver not only a great gift but great moments for their loved ones.


There is a skill in creative gift-giving. It can be scary to gift someone a piece of art that you are unsure of its reception. But never fear! Here are a few proven ways to gift art this Holiday Season to the people who mean most to you.


Holiday “Check-In” Cards: This is a fantastic idea for creatives who have friends or family they don’t see often or are not around for the holidays. A check-in card includes a custom piece of art on the cover (be it illustration, photography, etc.) with an update on how your year went. Cards can be simple or complex, emotional, or practical. It allows your friends and family close or far to know how you are doing and is a lovely way to showcase your art in the process. The best part of these cards is that over time they can be collected and reflected upon season to season to see how far you’ve come! (If you need help finding a printer, check out our two-part series on mastering merch here and here)!


Family Portraits/Coat of Arms: Family is the most important thing during the holidays, and creating symbols that honor and celebrate those bonds are a fantastic way to bring people together. Whether you can paint, draw or photograph your loved ones and create prints or by recreating your family’s coat of arms (or even making your own), this can be a great practical way to gift family members.


“Tiny” Art/Artist Trading Cards: It can be labor-intensive and risky to gift large framed pieces during the holiday season. Not everyone is an art collector or fan, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! “Tiny” art is all the rage these days, and you can use this to your advantage! You can make several small art pieces on 5 x 7, 6x6, or anything smaller and gift it to your loved ones. You can also customize your pieces to have magnets or be able to stick/hang on a wall so your friends and family can create a mini-gallery of your work. They are collectible, they are low cost/low labor investment, and can be a great addition to your gift options this season.


Custom Coloring Books: While coloring books may have been all the rage a few years ago, they are still around, and are fantastic for younger family members, as well as the friends and family who still enjoy them after all this time! All you need is some sturdy paper, some ink, and a stapler, and you have a great “Fun for all ages” gift!


Art Lessons: If you are looking for something more personal and experience-based this season, you can treat your friends and family to an Art Lesson / Painting Holiday Party! Lessons can be a great way to get your friends and family together and enjoy some holiday time.

Note: This CAN be a pricey effort, but if you can get all participants to contribute, that may be able to lessen the load. (Other tips that can cut down on costs are: using paper plates and cups instead of palettes, smaller canvas sizes or working on paper, working on a flat surface instead of easels, etc.)


Personal Artwork: Personal Artwork CAN be a great way to gift (as well as do some Spring cleaning in your collection), but only if you are sure the recipient truly enjoys the work. Check your social media to see which friends or family have liked or commented on your work. That can be a great way to find out what work you may want to surprise someone with this season.


Custom-Painted Signs (Family Name, Welcome, etc.): Painting custom signs has become a growing niche for collectors and appreciators of sign art. Finding a flat surface to turn into a sign is as easy as a trip to your local arts and crafts shop (or lumber yard), and a medium-sized piece can be a great “big” gift for your family!


Holiday Commission Requests: While it may not be the most immediate gift option, it is the equivalent of an “Artist Gift Card” that can be a wonderful thought for a fellow creative friend or family member. Commissions can be a great option for any artist who may be interested in trying out requested work or are already skilled in taking them. They can be time-consuming, so be sure to set the right expectations so you can get best piece to your loved one!


Holiday Ornaments: Holiday Ornaments are an annual tradition, and adding your own to your friends or family collections is a wonderful way to have recurring incorporation of your work into a recurring ritual of the Holidays. Whether you paint ornaments yourself or add a hanger to a custom-frame or 2-D surface, this can be a lovely festive option for your gift-giving repertoire.


Collaborative Art: Have friends and loved ones that love art, but art too shy to consider themselves “artists?”  Consider creating your own art kit as a gift.  Start with a line drawing and pencil in some numbers for an original paint by number set, or turn some line art into a connect the dots project that your recipient finishes to reveal the final image. Include a few art supplies to finish the project with a brief set of instructions.  Want to see some examples?  Check out our social media posts on Facebook and Instagram for our sister brands: Higgins (F: /higginsinks & I: @higginsinks), Grumbacher (F: /Grumbacher & I: @grumbacherart), and Koh-I-Noor

(F: /kohinoorusa & I: @kohinoorusa).


We hope this article has given you some new ideas on how to turn your art into meaningful and memorable gifts this holiday season! Do you have any ideas of your own? Share your knowledge in the comments below! Happy gifting!