Angry Artist Alley: Why do people use markers?


As some artists, we sit behind artist alley to get pocket cash, exposure, you know the stuff. From budgets, to transportation/living, horrible customers, and well…if you never sat behind artist alley, you have no idea. And if you have…ever feel frustrated?

You’ve got stories? Concerns? Questions? Ask away!

I know there have been people who have sat behind cons before me, but I’ve started around 2004, and I walked in with absolutely no guidance (aka. i screwed up a LOT). So I learned through my mistakes, acquired more than just a handful of stories, and I’ve seen my peers and table mates go through it all too. I don’t mean a convention a year, I mean an average about six a year.


You will see it everywhere at artist alley-those copic or prismacolor markers…yea you know what i mean.
But why? They’re not too pleasing to smell, and they’re expensive!

I will point out, people use watercolors. But you know…the dreaded SPILL of hell (trust me, I’ve seen it more than a few times). I’ll also note that some of these reasons are better not to be told to a noobie who decides to sit behind the table for the first time. A mistake investment in markers can be very sad. Nor should you force someone to buy it just for the following reasons. If you decide to explain it to them, make sure to give them the cons of having markers as well.  A better explanation of any material in general is better than immediately buying and trying it out. Please try any art tool out yourself at a store or ask questions at a demo first.


Here are some reasons:

1)Everyone else is doing it-Well, got to fit in, right?

2)I look so boss with it-If the pros got it, having them will make you seem a bit more professional too. You don’t have to know how to use them properly or draw very well with it, when people see you using it, they think you’re pro.

3)Quick to use, quick to dry-draw a line-DONE. By the time you just read that sentence it’s dried.

4)Refillable-Lots of people toss the markers when they’re dry, which is really…well…did you know they have refills? The marker refills are slightly more expensive than the marker (by a dollar or two), and each refill is about 5-10 refills worth of one marker. Ink is also mixable, so I actually mix my own colors in the markers….which also means they’re not the real colors I purchased unless it was the color of my refills….but that also means I have marker colors I’d actually want to use.

Here are cons about using them:

1)Depending on the number you have, they can get bulky-more than seventy-two markers is tricky to pack up.

2)Cost-Imagine them being about five dollars each. Imagine someone stole that 72 pack you had lying around.

3)The smell-alcohol based markers will have colors that will not fade for decades, but it also has the slight smell of rubbing alcohol. After a few years you get used to it though.

4)Mistaking your table mates’ markers for yours, or people stealing them-yea, there was this jackass once…….

5)Caps don’t snap-when using these, make sure you know where you put the cap of the marker. Other than the CIAO copics (and a select other few), the caps don’t snap to the other side of the marker, which means you have to lay it somewhere next to the table or something. When you lose it, you’re dead. And so will your marker. Until you find it, after a heart attack.

6)Mis-capping: Markers come in a LOT of colors. Color intensity/hue/etc can be SO SLIGHT in markers, you better know which cap/color code goes on top of which marker. If you accidentally miscap two markers with very similar colors, that’s well…I hate when that happens.

7)bleeds right through paper: Make sure to color over a piece of blank paper, or the paper will bleed right through whatever art underneath.

How many markers do I need My starter set was 24 sketch, which was a great number for MANY years. I would recommend buying a SET instead of individual just to save money, but don’t go overboard. Eventually, there were specific colors I only wanted, so I bought a separate copic marker wallet to stash the other markers. My collection is a little over seventy, accumulated for eight years. You can always use a limited color palate too, and that makes for a very unique commission ^_^
Don’t buy the 72 pack on your first attempt without ever trying the markers out.

But do I REALLY need to use markers?
Hey, I’ve seen some awesome watercolor artists out there, ain’t no shame in that. Some people work exclusively digitally and only do pen and ink sketches. It’s just a mental kind of thing to have, like if all the cool kids have it, then suddenly having it would give you the sense of being that cool too.

My pro tip? Do what you love. If you like colorpencils, bring that instead. Crayons? Pastels? Whatever makes you happy. Markers are expensive, and if you don’t want to ever touch them, then don’t.