Choosing an art medium can be challenging, especially when you are new to the arts. And as technology has advanced and the world has become more connected, the number of art mediums has multiplied. Why? Because now people can share ideas on an international platform. For example, Australians can now learn how art is created on the other side of the globe, and vice versa.

Not only is picking a medium a challenge for new artists in general, but picking a new medium is made even more complicated due to the sheer number of mediums! Case in point, one article on Wikipedia cited more than 100 different art mediums, from mosaics to watercolours, aerosols, floral designs, rock art, food art, clay, oil paints, and even the human body as a medium!


So how do you pick the right art medium?

Following are five questions you can ask yourself to help you pick a medium. Each question is followed by a series of action items you can take to help you make a decision on which art medium is right for you.


Question #1 – What are You Trying to Convey with Art?

What type of emotions are you trying to create with your art? While we’ll be the first to admit that you can communicate any emotion with all the art mediums, some mediums are more conducive to specific emotions/imagery than others. For example, black and white pencil drawings, because they only use two colours, require an extensive degree of shading to convey a visual message. But that message can be very emotive and very powerful. Watercolour paintings, on the other hand, open one up to the world of colour and all that can be conveyed through colour, creating an entirely different range of potential imagery.

Here is one action item to take:

Once you have decided on what you’re trying to convey with art, do some research into the different art mediums. Try to envision how the emotions and ideas you’d like to express will look in various mediums.


Question #2 – How Much are You Willing to Invest in Creating Art?

By “invest,” we don’t mean money, at least not exclusively. We also mean time, resources, space, material, etc. For example, it takes very little investment to become a sketch artist, as all you need to start making sketches is a desk, pencils, and paper. But to become a potter, for example, you would have to invest in a separate workspace, a potter’s wheel, and other miscellaneous pottery equipment.

Action items:

Decide what your financial budget is for art. Then do some research on what art supplies cost for the different mediums that interest you.

Take a look at your proposed art space. Is it the breakfast nook in your studio apartment? Or do you have an entire room or building you can dedicate to creating art?


Question #3 – What Type of Art Inspires You?

Deciding on a medium can be as simple as reflecting on the art that you’ve enjoyed in the past. When people are trying to decide on what type of medium to create art in, they often end up going with the art medium that already excites them the most. Remember, your inspiration will be the fuel to the flame that is your inner artist. It will be the firewood that heats your heart, that invigorates your soul, and that pushes you to create.

Here are some action items:

Go out and observe art. Go to a museum or gallery and visit the various exhibits on display (This can also be done at home and online too, but art is best appreciated in-person).

What medium excites you the most? Which medium can you see yourself creating? What gallery exhibits or individual art pieces make you want to learn more about the mediums used?


Question #4 – What Do You Want to Try First?

When you think about making art, what type of art seems most interesting to you? What do you feel compelled to create? When you envision yourself creating art, how do you see yourself creating? When you picture art in your mind’s eye, what kind of art do you see?

Give these action items a shot:

Pick three art mediums that excite you the most.

Go to a discount art supply store and buy materials for these three mediums.

Give yourself an hour for each medium and use your materials to experiment with each medium.

Repeat this process the next day, giving yourself an hour to play around with the three mediums. Don’t even worry about creating a masterpiece at this point; just experiment with different mediums.

Which art medium of the three made you feel the happiest? Which did you enjoy creating art with the most? Which medium made you feel the most excited and the most involved?


Question #5 – What Type of Medium Do You Want to Learn About?

Yes, art is a practical exercise. It’s true that probably 80 percent of artistic skill is garnered from the simple act of creating art. But what about that other 20 percent? Every art medium has a good bit of theory behind it, plus history, contemporary techniques, valuable data, methodology, etc. Aside from creating art, what type of art medium do you get most excited to learn about?

Action item:

Pick three art mediums that interest you the most, and sign up for one art class for each medium. Taking a class in each chosen medium will give you a great idea of which art style you gravitate to the most, because you’ll get to learn the basic techniques of each.

Time to Get Started!

There are plenty of strategies, tips, and proven methods for choosing an art medium. But at the end of the day, this is your choice, and it will be up to your own feelings, thoughts, and conclusions about different art styles to ultimately help you decide on a medium. Get started, experiment with a few mediums, and may your love for the arts change you forever!