SketchBox is a monthly subscription box for art supplies. Each month, they'll send you 4-9 art supplies (often full kits) plus a piece of art to inspire you. The items included are for 2D media, such as pens, markers, pencils, paints, etc.
This is a review of the $35/month Premium box. SketchBox also offers a $25/month Basic box.
ACTIVE DEAL: Get 50% off your first box of a 3, 6, 12 month subscription
Calligraphy is a beautiful style of decorative handwriting that has quite the history as well as individual traditions. I have dabbled with a few calligraphy pens in my day, but tend to prefer the "cheater" marker variety over the more traditional fountain pen style. This month I was a little surprised at the inclusion of this type of utensil, as it's not one I usually associate with sketching, but I was excited none the less! Read below to find out what I thought of February's box.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the editorial guidelines to learn more about how we review boxes.)
SketchBox runs an ongoing contest to put a subscriber's artwork on the lid of their box each month. There's information on how to enter their monthly contest on the info card.
What's Inside the Box
Each month, SketchBox includes a detailed list of each product included and why it was chosen. Also featured is a link to the SketchBox School, which is the perfect place to go if you are a beginner like me, or if you just need a little inspiration. I really enjoy the videos they create as they go through each product individually and show exactly how they can be used. This month I didn't watch the video tutorial until after I played around with the products, but I found some really neat ideas to try in the future.
Also included is a card with a drawing by the month's featured artist. For February we received a piece done by Matthew Bowman. Intrigued by the postcard art, I decided to check out his website and found a necklace he designed called the Orbit Necklace which depicts the unbroken connection between a mother and her child, and I so want one!
Each month they also send a sticker that fits the theme of each box. This month we received this brightly colored rainbow sticker that is perfect for the front of my notebook!
DelGuard Mechanical Pencil - Retail Value $7.56
To be honest, I feel pretty darn silly because I had to actually watch a video on how to change/add lead to this fancy, spring-loaded mechanical pencil. It's definitely not difficult, but I was trying to unscrew the bottom part of the pencil, and obviously was not having any luck inserting the lead there. <insert hand slapping face emoji!> Clearly, I am more comfortable with a traditional style pencil, but I have to say, once figured out, this pencil is kind of the cat's meow. Medium in weight, this utensil really feels like a pen in your hand and has a high-quality clicker on top. This makes the pencil also look more like a pen than a pencil - but hidden away inside is a little nub of an eraser...Sneaky! Because the tip is spring-loaded, the breaking of lead is reduced, and the ultimate product is a great sketching and writing tool that I plan on bringing to all of my future work meetings.
Uni NanoDia Color 0.5mm Lead - Retail Value $4.43
Here is the said lead that I couldn't figure out how to get in the pencil until I watched the instructional video. What a goof I am! Coming in an assortment of colors, we received 20 pieces of 0.5x50mm erasable leads that don't break easily, write surprisingly well, and are a little twist to the traditional grey pencil color we all are so used to.
Faber-Castell Grip Eraser - Retail Value $3.90
As an educator for kids ages 5 through 18, I can say I have witnessed more than my fair share of erasing. Most kindergarteners have worn the erasers right off of their pencils and are left with those rectangular pink erasers that seem to break in half, instantly creating little worthless nubs and a whole lot of eraser dust. This, my friends, is nothing like that. Sturdy, cute, comfortable, and versatile, this eraser not only erases well, but can get into small areas for sketching, or erase large amounts of space at a time using the side. Honestly, this eraser is the best one I have ever used.
PILOT Parallel Pen 6mm - Retail Value $8.69
As I mentioned above, this month we received a calligraphy pen complete with a rinsing kit and 2 vials of ink. This particular version is the 6 mm size, which is one of the largest tips. While I found this size to be fun, I did find it a little too large for my liking, especially paired with the smaller sized vellum. The instructions were easy to follow, and the cleaning procedure was simple, though a little time-consuming. I also struggle with where to keep the ink after it has been punctured. I find it a bit messy and hard to store. As far as writing goes, I felt it worked okay, though I did struggle with a bit of streaking, which could be due to my inexperience. Overall, this was a fun addition to my collection - though any tips to organize the inks would be appreciated!
PILOT Parallel Pen Refill Pack - Retail Value $6.94
A fun inclusion, we received an assorted mix of ink cartridges for the new calligraphy pen. Like I said above, I've had a bit of experience with these, and have had a hard time storing them without leaking and making a mess. I hate cleaning the pen because of the time it takes, so I did discover just how well the inks blend together which was pretty neat. I can't wait to mess around with these a bit more in the future.
RAPIDESIGN Sketch Mate - Retail Value $15.24
At first, I felt this little green ruler was an overpriced useless tool, but after a little use I realized just how handy it could be. My son draws detailed tractor drawings and found this to be an extremely helpful tool. The fact that it is translucent, and you can see through it to your work makes it even better!
Clearprint Design Vellum - Retail Value $11.29
To test our new tools, we received a pack of 50 sheets of 4"x6" vellum. The calligraphy pen glides across this paper and doesn't bleed through, making it a perfect medium. This also worked great for the mechanical pencil and sketching.
SketchBox February Project
When it comes to my project of the month, I try to incorporate as many of the tools that came in the box as possible. This month when our box arrived, our family had just been hit by a not-so-lovely stomach bug. Between being ill myself, taking care of sick children, trying to sanitize, and just being plain exhausted, I had a bit of a creative block. I was really excited to try out the calligraphy pen, so I worked with that most, adding a bit of mechanical pencil here and there. Once we catch up on our sleep and get back to normal, I am hoping to produce something a bit more creative.
Practicing calligraphy is really fun, but a little harder than it looks. As you can see, there are some streaks as the metal tines drag across the vellum. I am interested to see if these show up on regular paper. Trying different fonts was really fun, but I found the 6 mm size limiting to the size of the letters. Initials are fun, and after being inspired by a birch bark craft our 1st graders recently made, I decided to create an "R" for Rebecca. Adding some pencil lines and circles, I had a good time playing around.
Because I just had to try a couple different colored inks, I spelled out "My Subscription Addiction" and "Merry Christmas". Far from my finest work, but under the circumstances it was all I could muster up. I'm hoping this weekend I will be able to jump onto Pinterest for a little more inspiration to give these tools another go.
When it comes to SketchBox I just never quite know what to expect, and that's what makes it so exciting! Knowing I'm going to receive high quality art supplies and trusting that I will be sent things I will be able to use and create a piece of art with can be hard, but so true with this sub. I found the calligraphy theme surprising and fun. The curation was well thought out and contained a variety of items in colors suited to almost everyone. I can't wait to practice with the pen more and create a more detailed piece in the near future. Any suggestions? Send them my way!!
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To Wrap Up
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? According to SketchBox's website, the cutoff to purchase the February box was January 21st, but you can still subscribe to get next month's box!
ACTIVE DEAL: Get 50% off your first box of a 3, 6, 12 month subscription
Value Breakdown: Last month, a lot of the items we received were custom created just for SketchBox. This month I was able to find all of our items online with a value of $58.05, which is almost a $20 savings. As an art novice, without this subscription I would never have discovered the amazingness of the DelGuard mechanical pencil, or that awesome eraser and that would have been such a tragedy! With such a thoughtful curation, the video tutorials, and overall box quality, I feel the $35 price point is right on par. What do you think they will have in store for March?
What do you think of SketchBox?