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Smart Art Subscription Box Review + Coupon – January 2017


Smart Art is a fine arts subscription service that sends a new project every month and all the supplies needed to complete it. My husband and I are both artists, and we have been having a blast with our Smart Art subscription!


This box was sent to us at no cost to review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).


The Subscription Box: Smart Art

The Cost: $49.99 per month with free shipping

COUPON: Use code MSA20 to save 20% off your first box

The Products: A fine arts project, complete with instructions and supplies

Ships to: U.S. only

Good to know: It’s a different project in a different media every month, using different techniques!

Also good to know: January and February boxes are now sold out. If you subscribe today, March will be your first box

Check out all of our Smart Art reviews and the Craft Subscription Box Directory!

Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!


This month’s project was to create a charcoal portrait! This is the booklet that Smart Art sends every month. It includes art history related to the project, a list of the included supplies, project pointers, and instructions.

Subscribers can upload a picture of their finished project to Smart Art’s Facebook page for a chance to win a free box! That’s really cool! On the other hand, our projects usually take forever, so we always seem to miss the boat on this contest.


The instructions are printed on the back of the booklet. They are pretty clear and easy to follow, but they still allow for as much creativity as you like.


Here are the supplies that were included for this month’s project.

Cretacolor Nero Deep Black Pocket Pencil Set – Value $15?

Cretacolor Artists’ Pencil 3-piece Set – Value $7.50

Canson Artist Series Drawing & Sketch Pad – Value $8.40

Artist Chamois 5″x7″ – Value $5.59

Artist Organizer Box – Value $6.47

Please note that most of the values listed here are list prices. Almost all of them can be found for less at most online discount art supply stores.


Look! It’s Sting! My first step was to find a black and white portrait photograph and print it out. I chose Sting as my subject because he is very fair, so I thought the shading would be a bit easier. Also, my Mom has had a celebrity crush on Sting since the 80’s, so I thought she would enjoy a drawing of him.


I cut the picture in half and taped it in my sketchbook. Then I made some basic marks showing where the eye and chin should be. I used the medium pencil from the boxed set of charcoals for all my sketching. These were the nicest charcoals I have ever used, by the way, and it made the process a lot easier!


My next step was to draw the face shape, plus the basic outlines of the eye, nose, and mouth.


I then drew the hair, ear, and eyebrow, plus filled in some detail on the face, mouth, and eye. At this point, he looks a little like Arnold Schwartzenegger!


Next, I covered the whole page with a thin layer of charcoal and used the chamois plus an eraser to do some shading. The paper held up really well through this process, so I love the sketch book! BUT, the chamois smelled bad when I pulled it out of the package! It smelled kind of like vinegar.


I went back and re-sharpened some of the areas I had smudged up in the previous step that I didn’t want to be smudged up as much. My last step was to add some subtle details with the sepia and white pencils from the 3-pack.


This is my completed drawing, and I have to say, it’s not bad! This is one of my better charcoal portraits, for sure. I’m happy with it, and I think my Mom is going to love it!

Verdict: My husband and I are both huge fans of Smart Art! I had a lot of fun with this project, and I am happy with the way it turned out. I thought the drawing supplies were fantastic, and the chamois worked well despite its weird smell. The artist organizer box was (I think) sort of a bonus item to round out the value of the box, but the pencils didn’t fit in it, so that was kind of weird. The value of everything totals around $43, which does not quite meet the cost of the box, but I’m fine with that. The project selection, the instruction, and the material sourcing also adds a lot of additional value for me. We love Smart Art!

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Written by Anna Rodriguez

Anna Rodriguez

Anna has been a fan of subscription boxes since joining Birchbox in 2013, but didn’t become a true addict until discovering subscriptions she could share with her children. Her favorites include Kiwi Crate and Fab Kids.

Posted in Craft Subscription Boxes, Smart Art Reviews, Subscription Box Reviews| Tags: smart art | 6 comments

Comments (6)

  1. Wow! I’m super impressed!! I did not realize you were such an amazing artist!

    • Wow, thank you Gina!

  2. You did an amazing job!! I am so impressed with the instructions. I am in no way an artist but this makes me want to try!

    • Thanks Michelle!

  3. Gorgeous sketch!

    • Thanks so much Marissa!

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