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View Full Version : The price point of some pastels


jakertanner
11-11-2014, 08:02 AM
Hello,

As I am getting ready to spend about $50 or so on a set of pastels, comparing prices from various sites, as I am sure most of you do, I was a little taken by the price point of Art Spectrum pastels compared to other "higher quality" pastels.

I noticed that AS pastels, are MORE costly for the same amount of sticks in a set than TLs, MVs. and a few others. I like AS, but are they worth more than TLs?

Any thoughts on this? Corrections? Justifications? Only thing I can think of is that maybe in the U.S. AS are considered imports and carry a higher price tag?

Equus Art
11-11-2014, 11:37 AM
You didn't say how many sticks were in a set or how much per stick that averaged out to be. Or which of the AS pastels you were interested in.

It seems to me that deciding how "worth it" a pastel can be compared to other brands would depend on how much an individual liked that particular brand. I have my own particular brands that I find work well for me. Are they worth more than any other brand? Hard to justify that when you really love the feel and workability of the brand you bond with.

I am in love with Giraults and the lowest price I have been able to find them is $4.39 per stick. They are imported as well. They are more than TL per stick but to me YES, very worth it as they have made a difference in my painting.

Cat

Barbara WC
11-11-2014, 12:38 PM
I agree with Cat, only you can decide if the cost of AS is worth it to you. AS sticks are quite densely packed with pigment and nice sized sticks, giving you a lot of pastel per stick. Girault is probably one third to one half the size, but like Cat said, to me they are worth the cost, others don't find value in Girault, but some of the colors have become staples in my portrait work.

If you are looking for good value, I might suggest the Dick Blick brand of artists soft pastel. I am pretty sure the sticks are made by Daler-Rowney for Blick. They only limitation in that line of pastels is they don't have any good darks, but overall, the color range, texture and pigment load is good...

jakertanner
11-11-2014, 02:20 PM
You didn't say how many sticks were in a set or how much per stick that averaged out to be. Or which of the AS pastels you were interested in.

It seems to me that deciding how "worth it" a pastel can be compared to other brands would depend on how much an individual liked that particular brand. I have my own particular brands that I find work well for me. Are they worth more than any other brand? Hard to justify that when you really love the feel and workability of the brand you bond with.

I am in love with Giraults and the lowest price I have been able to find them is $4.39 per stick. They are imported as well. They are more than TL per stick but to me YES, very worth it as they have made a difference in my painting.

Cat

I didn't mention a set count because ALL sets no matter how many are more across the board. Overall, they cost more.

jakertanner
11-11-2014, 02:26 PM
I agree with Cat, only you can decide if the cost of AS is worth it to you. AS sticks are quite densely packed with pigment and nice sized sticks, giving you a lot of pastel per stick. Girault is probably one third to one half the size, but like Cat said, to me they are worth the cost, others don't find value in Girault, but some of the colors have become staples in my portrait work.

If you are looking for good value, I might suggest the Dick Blick brand of artists soft pastel. I am pretty sure the sticks are made by Daler-Rowney for Blick. They only limitation in that line of pastels is they don't have any good darks, but overall, the color range, texture and pigment load is good...

Actually Barbara, it was a generalization. AS is more money than Terry Ludwig's which are considered higher end. The one stick of AS I do have, is great, but I am not experienced enough with them that I can say they are worth it, but perhaps they are. To me, they are about the same as Rembrandts, but if I had to choose between Rembrandt and TLs, I would buy TL.

Barbara WC
11-11-2014, 02:46 PM
One thing to be aware of TL's: since they are handmade, the size does vary, more than they used to. AS stick sizes are more consistent. Some of the TL sticks are half the size (I have weighed them) of other sticks, so expect some small sticks if you order a set. This is not a problem, over a set, the sticks "even out" so you get an average- some are larger, some are smaller. It is a disappointment though in my last order that on of my favorite colors (a replacement stick of a color that I use often) in my order was the smallest- it weighed at tiny 0.25 grams, versus the largest stick, 0.65 grams...

robertsloan2
11-11-2014, 02:50 PM
I lucked and got a set of 60 Art Spectrum Pure Tones at the point they added more colors and needed to replace the Pure Tones set - it was all their pigments with some added extra lights and darks to fill out the set. It was on a deep discount sale and so I got to try them in a nice range. I do love them. Great texture, very heavy in the hand, medium soft, very pigment rich. I think they'd be worth it but that's me.

Rembrandt are comparable in texture though and handle well. I'd try a sample and decide for yourself. One thing Art Spectrum offers is the six pack sets with which you can build up a nice 72 color range. Their near-whites are softer than their regular ones and very useful, but for a six pack to add into a general collection the darks would be a good one. With a $50 budget there are other pastels you could try, with the sets advantage, and get more sticks for your money.

I found that with more expensive brands, it turned out to be worth it for their unique texture and sometimes unique colors. If you choose some open stock, AS has some Australian pigments unlike those from other continents with place names in the color name. Those might be useful. There's also one specific Art Spectrum half sticks set that's quite useful as itself - the 20 color Colourfix set. I think all those colors are included in the 40 color half stick set too. The advantage there is that if you're using Colourfix paper, you have exact match to the sanded paper color and could use the paper as background, dash in "Sky holes" matching paper color right in the middle of an already worked area.

So if it's an adjunct set, I'd suggest 20 Colourfix half sticks. If you don't get any more of them than that, it gives a specific effect on a reasonably priced sanded paper and the Colourfix primer comes in the same exact colors. I collected them a few at a time and used to have the full set of 20 Colourfix primers so I'd always have a supply of all the colors of sanded paper even if money was tight - because I also had a lot of watercolor paper pads around to use it on that I got on sale.

Since those colors are among their other colors, there would be overlap with other sets but they're a specialty set usable as itself whenever using Colourfix paper. Other than that, you could get a couple of six-packs or 15 full sticks. I just checked the Blick prices within your range. Darkest Darks or Lightest Lights or anything that fills a gap would work with the six packs. It's not a full range but it'd be a useful specific range whether you went on to get more Art Spectrums or not.

I like them enough that someday their full range set is on my wish list. It's just not that high on my wish list because I do have the big set of medium soft ones already.

Nick7
11-11-2014, 04:20 PM
One thing to be aware of TL's: since they are handmade, the size does vary, more than they used to. AS stick sizes are more consistent. Some of the TL sticks are half the size (I have weighed them) of other sticks, so expect some small sticks if you order a set. This is not a problem, over a set, the sticks "even out" so you get an average- some are larger, some are smaller. It is a disappointment though in my last order that on of my favorite colors (a replacement stick of a color that I use often) in my order was the smallest- it weighed at tiny 0.25 grams, versus the largest stick, 0.65 grams...
Barbara, perhaps you could ask them about that because they have this on their website:
Additional Information

Weight .0625 lbs Dimensions 1.5 x .5 x .5 in

I mean, I don't know how to convert lbs to grams but they do have set some standard.

RickinNM
11-11-2014, 06:21 PM
One angle not being addressed . Some companies have a higher pigment load compared to others . Using A white Nupastel or a Art Spectrum ,Dick Blick, or a Schminckie one end it blends in like not even there to the other end where it would dominate the mix due to such high pigment load. A single stick at $6 with high pigment load is better than 2 times size or 2 times as many of the other even at half the cost. I havent tried TL I cant chime in . I like AS, MV and Dick Blick soft pastels To me they seem kinda on par with each other in quality.

jakertanner
11-11-2014, 07:23 PM
I have nothing against AS as a brand, but as a whole, i was curious how they can be more money than TLs or MVs, because I don't hear many pele say they use AS a whole lot. Certainly they don't come up in conversation as often as say Rembrandts do, which are similar. So my guess is perhaps because they are imported? Giraults are more money as are Unisons. TL and MV are within the U.S. but I do know that Girault and Unison are worth the price...pigment rich. Are AS equally pigment rich?

jakertanner
11-11-2014, 07:29 PM
I also feel that weight doesn't really mean much in terms of how much pigment they release. The weight doesn't always add up to the size. But I see that if within a brand, there are such big weight differences, then standards are not being met. Even Unison pastels have a big size difference between sticks..I understand handmade, but the starting weight before they are rolled isn't eye-balled...its weighed out, then rolled. Not sure how they get such a vast size difference.

WC Lee
11-11-2014, 08:20 PM
I believe the biggest reason is the cost of production within any company in any given country plus the cost of distribution. The other reason is that the US dollar isn't worth as much as it used to, thus the purchasing power is less causing the prices of the products from other countries to increase at a faster rate than the US made counterparts.

kkelly
11-12-2014, 08:53 AM
Pigments vary greatly in density. One pound of Titanium White is a much smaller volume than a pound of Raw Umber. So pastels of equal size may not be any where near equal weight depending on the pigment used for the color.

jakertanner
11-12-2014, 09:37 AM
Is there anyone out there that uses AS pastels as their main pastel? If so, would you be so kind to post a picture? Very much appreciated. I am still on the fence if I am to invest into a new brand as add-ons, or try and build pastels sets that I already have.

jakertanner
11-12-2014, 10:21 AM
Ok, so upon doing further research for best prices for AS, it seems Blick has the lowest and on sets they are average of $10 cheaper...so if on a budget, Blick is best choice. The funny thing when I went to one pastel site, they had the product code for AS as: ASS...thought it was an over site, but a bit comical.

I may just get a few, based on the one Caput Mortum color..its quite nice.

westcoast_Mike
11-12-2014, 11:41 AM
I never gave it any thought. If I like the sticks, I buy them. If I don't, I pass.

SAS Designs
11-12-2014, 02:40 PM
DB now has their own brand of soft pastels in 1/2 stick. Seems like an easy way to try them.
suzy

jakertanner
11-12-2014, 04:33 PM
Mike, the issue is why are AS sticks so much more than what are considered to be "better" quality? I certainly wouldn't pay the same price for Rembrandts as I would Schmincke, so why are AS sticks comparable in price? Unless someone can confirm that they are every bit as pigment rich as TL or GA, then I can see the point. I was only wondering because it doesn't seem like they get many reviews or are mentioned a lot here, so if not many people are using them, then what's with the big price?

I don't have the luxury to disregard price. I can certainly like something, but unable to afford them.

westcoast_Mike
11-12-2014, 05:54 PM
Actually, they are considered Artist grade. They are made by the same company that makes Colourfix paper. They are considered a medium hardness stick and that may be why they don't get a lot of love.

I don't have unlimited funds either. But I learned a long time ago not to handicap my painting by scrimping on materials.

DAK723
11-12-2014, 08:12 PM
Mike, the issue is why are AS sticks so much more than what are considered to be "better" quality? I certainly wouldn't pay the same price for Rembrandts as I would Schmincke, so why are AS sticks comparable in price? Unless someone can confirm that they are every bit as pigment rich as TL or GA, then I can see the point. I was only wondering because it doesn't seem like they get many reviews or are mentioned a lot here, so if not many people are using them, then what's with the big price?

I don't have the luxury to disregard price. I can certainly like something, but unable to afford them.
I don't have the answers you seek - and I doubt the answers can be found out. I believe they don't get many reviews and mentions primarily because they are not a well distributed brand outside of Australia.

Basic selling principles tell you that if they sell a much lower volume than Rembrandts (which are available in nearly every art and craft store) then the price needs to be higher (higher volume allows for lower price). I have no idea if they have a good (or any) distribution system or partnership with a local company here in the States or if they are imported with the higher price that that would entail.

Since they are a medium softness, it would be hard to compare the amount of pigment with softer brands such as TL and GA. But perhaps they do have a very high pigment load - or, perhaps as important, use higher priced pigments and avoid some of the lower priced pigments. I believe they have some unique pigments (or so it is advertised) so perhaps the price of those pigments pushes the price of the range higher. All of these may be possibilities - or may have absolutely nothing to do with the price!

I wouldn't try to analyze price. We don't have the information to determine how much it costs each company to make their products in terms of the equipment they have, the number of employees, and how much those employee are paid.

Don

jakertanner
11-13-2014, 12:11 AM
Very true Don, I wish they were available in local stores. I am hoping to be able to place an order for some TL's or GA's soon and I will include a stick or two of AS. I do like the unique colors though.

jakertanner
11-13-2014, 12:14 AM
I wish, as on other forums that I am part of, the the manufacturers monitor and chime in. I mean we are the users, so shy not get direct feedback and ideas for improvement directly from the source? I only know of Wallis to be on here, and every time I try and reach out to her, I never get a reply. Doesn't say much about the CS. point is if AS's people monitored this site, someone could have explained things better in order to get the sales. Hope that changes someday.

thevaliantx
11-13-2014, 09:25 AM
Jake, they probably ask their employees to NOT post on forums (more specifically, here) because they would be nitpicked to death, and as a result there would be all this negativity, AS company involved, for the world to see. Completely different genre, but the exact point I am making, check out operationsports.com if you want to see why companies shy away from support in forums.

jakertanner
11-13-2014, 10:22 AM
Jake, they probably ask their employees to NOT post on forums (more specifically, here) because they would be nitpicked to death, and as a result there would be all this negativity, AS company involved, for the world to see. Completely different genre, but the exact point I am making, check out operationsports.com if you want to see why companies shy away from support in forums.

I understand your point. I come from an audio community where the manufacturers are an integral part of the forums. They let us know about product updates, new products and also offer support, but limited.

With pastels, its one product, not 10 like some audio companies, so I still can't really understand why. Its a matter of offering additional customer service to the community that keeps them in business, to me is a no brainer. But perhaps there are reasons beyond what I don't see.

westcoast_Mike
11-13-2014, 11:02 AM
I'm with Don, I don't try and analyze the price. If I did, I never would have tried Girault's, which I use a lot.

For monitoring this site, I only know of one that does so, and I find it a bit creepy at times. Like they are always looking over my shoulder.

jakertanner
11-13-2014, 01:24 PM
Mike, I want to try them. I really do, but I don't want to feel like I'm over paying for lesser pastels when I can get the usual suspects for less. I know Giraults are more money, but they have a track record and pedigree that seems worth the price. I don't know enough about AS to justify it in my head just yet...lol. But I'm getting there.

Barbara WC
11-13-2014, 02:40 PM
Jake- We have so many pastel brands, perhaps you should invest in some of the other brands instead of focusing on a brand you don't feel is good value? Most of us have started with just a couple of brands,, then with more experience, try others.

AS aren't mentioned much, but they are good quality, I just didnt prefer their texture, but for people that do detailed work, they would be great.

Diane Townsend aren't frequently mentioned here, but they have blown my socks off, I just discovered them after 5 years of working in pastels. They aren't for everyone though, she adds some pumice to the sticks so they are a little gritty. But her sticks are almost pure pigment (at least according to her website)...

Giraults are overpriced for their size, they are closer to the size of a Nupastel, except round, but they are invaluable to me in detail work for my portrait work. If I were on a limited budget, I wouldn't bother with them personally...

Points being, only you can decide which sticks are worth it to you, how much you like them and if you can achieve the work you want to do. For many of the pastels on the market, we don't know the pigments the manufacturers use, the binders, the fillers, the light fastness (exceptions being Sennelier, Rembrandt and Holbein), so really, pigment load, etc, is anyone's guess...

westcoast_Mike
11-13-2014, 03:36 PM
Yeah, it's kind of a Catch Twenty Two when trying new sticks. You want to get the right ones, but you have no way of knowing if this will be the one until you get them. Unfortunately, it's not like buying a car. Most of don't have a "Dealership" nearby to test drive them first.

Reviews will only get you so far. How you perceive a stick is very individual. TLís are one of the most loved sticks on this site and I know a lot of Artists personally that swear by them. For me, they don't do it. I bought a set of greens and I'm not fond of how they lay down. Iíll use them up, but I wonít replace them.

Barbara WC
11-13-2014, 04:30 PM
And, I think we respond to different pastel differently with experience. My newest brand that I so adore, DT, I would have hated when I first started out...

And not only texture, but different brands have different color ranges, some have a generally more neutralized or grayed offering, others have a range of brighter sticks...

jakertanner
11-13-2014, 08:05 PM
All good points to consider for certain, and I appreciate the feedback from all who have responded. I guess the answer I seek is still a mystery...it's more of are they worth the money based on the pigments and amount of pigment used. But I will certainly try some, as I like to work on various supports, and I am sure that they will excel with many different surfaces. If they are anything like Rembrandts, but slightly softer, I will love them.

Barbara WC
11-13-2014, 09:54 PM
I just checked prices on pastels, haven't done that in awhile. I am not sure why you think Art Spectrum's are such a high price point?

At Dick Blick site, for individual pastels:

Unison- $4.17
Mt. Vision- $4.11
Schminke- $3.95
Great American- $3.39
Sennelier- $3.23
Art Spectrum- $3.12
Rembrandt- $3.03

And not available at Blick, but elsewhere
Girault- $4.40
Terry Ludwig (only on Terry's site): $4.10

Granted, you can get a discount if ordering sets which brings the per stick price down, even Art Spectrums are brought down to $2.96 if you buy a 30 full stick set at Blick..

And I was wrong about one thing, Dick Blick does list pigment information for Art Spectrum pastels, so you can find out which pigments they use. I checked only a couple of sticks, but they use high grade artist pigments... To find out pigment information, go to the pastel brand open stock sticks, and click on the item number in front of the pastel you are interested in. A color swatch tag and a pigment information tag comes up. Not all the brands have pigment info available though, so you may be comparing apples with oranges. We really don't know what pigments Giraults or some of the other expensive ones like Terry Ludwig and Unison use, and we don't know what fillers and binders many of them use either...

jakertanner
11-14-2014, 12:12 AM
Barbara, I was looking at sets, and across the board, they are more than TL and GAs, which was my comparison. AS, are more per set, at least at fineartstore...never got why some sets are cheaper, while others are more than the same in open stock...

I appreciate you taking the time to look things up and for the pigment info, it all helps.

Nick7
11-14-2014, 02:09 AM
Jake, putting a price tag on the stuff you sell is tricky and there is a lot to consider and lot of aspects involved. It doesn't neccessarily mirror quality. It depends on the wholesaler, the shop, the individual discount the shop is able to negotiate with the wholesaler, the other shops and the customes' demand.

jakertanner
11-14-2014, 10:18 AM
I wonder if AS are less expensive in Australia, because I'm just looking at the US brands that give a good deal and are very high quality.

In any event, I certainly didn't want to start a major debate, I was just curious as to why AS' price point was seemingly higher for sets than other more reveered brands.

robertsloan2
11-14-2014, 11:47 AM
Actually it's interesting that two different online retailers had different prices and on fineartstore they were more than TL and GA. Blick is where I usually go, I haven't usually found fineartstore to have the best prices though they have got a wonderful website and a brand I can't get elsewhere, the Roche' pastels.

I do calculate set discount most of the time, it's satisfying to know that I got the bargain. Barbara, thanks for listing the open stock prices on those different brands.

For what it's worth, I don't think of Art Spectrum as a ripoff. When I go looking for bargains it's in relation to that brand elsewhere and if it was worth the money, it was. I lucked on AS at first but liked them enough that I'll probably get more later on. Depending on money, I may eventually get either 120 in a wood box or 154 in a wood box or just buy tints and new colors from open stock and get the wood box somewhere else. It's not high on my priority list because I do like the Rembrandts that much and have been having too much fun with that half sticks set. As usual when giving advice I should listen to it myself.

I use Colourfix paper a lot and Colourfix primers. I might pick up the 20 matching colors half sticks when I get those primers back from Arkansas so that I have easy "back to paper color" accents in later strokes. I have to admit, I'm also curious what the "clear" stick is. Is it an extra white or what?

jakertanner
11-14-2014, 10:49 PM
I do have to admit, using the one stick I do have, AS Caput Mortum color, I find it indispensable for creating clouds and sunlight. If the rest of them are as good, I will definitely get a few more.