Korean Art Supply Store Reviews

I don’t know if any of my artsy readers are planning to come to Korea, but here are some notes on where you can find supplies. What’s most different about the stores here is that all of the stores I’ve been into offer every paint Schimncke has except their gouache. There’s also a greater variety in Holbein sets. Holbein watercolors are the cheapest here than anywhere else I’ve been to. I can’t imagine them being cheaper anywhere except for Japan. Copic markers and Faber-Castell pencils are also here in sets and open-stock. They also have Winsor & Newton half pans. I don’t know why American art stores don’t offer pans since I believe many more painters are clamoring to have them. I myself prefer full pans since you can’t fit a decent sized brush in a half pan. But there are ways around that.

1. HOMI Art Supply
This is probably the best-stocked store I’ve found so far. They also have a website if you want to compare prices. I’ve heard that HOMI is supposed to be super hard to find, but it was oddly the first store I found when I was in Hongdae. It’s located on 3rd street where there should be a Holika Holika. They also now have signs that are posted on the top of tall buildings.

For the most part, they have a pretty good selection. They have a lot of Schmincke, Winsor & Newton, and other Korean brands (that probably have poor lightfastness). They also stock Isabey mop brushes as well as Raphael Golden Kaerell. You can also find Winsor & Newton half pans as well as some small sets. There are also anatomical little figurines the size of Barbie dolls that look like they would come in handy for studies. I’ve even found Fabriano Tela oil paper here, and I don’t know if that’s available in the States.

They even have the super expensive Williamsburg and Old Holland oil paints. I can’t believe they do since most Koreans seem to be on even tighter budget than Americans. All in all, HOMI is a nice place to get lost in, and if you must go to one store only I’d probably recommend this one.

Another special note is that they offer sets of the discontinued Winsor & Newton Pastels. It’s way more expensive at the Hongik University store, so I’m hoping to buy a box before I go.

*And if you need to use the bathroom, there’s a really gross squatting one a couple floors up. Bring your own napkins/toilet paper. Or you will be unhappy.

2. Hongik University Art Store
This store is right in front of the university if you enter the left side. Then just keep going straight till you hit the back.

It’s pretty well stocked. It has most of what HOMI has. It does have a lot of stationary too, if you’re into that. I also spied some Moleskines.

This is the only store I’ve found that offer sets of Schmincke pans, half and whole. There are also Rembrandt half pan sets along with a pocket sized Winsor & Newton half pan set. Something for me to sigh over. They also have tiny metal travel palettes that you can squeeze tube watercolors into.

3. Alpha Art Supply
This right outside of Ewha’s main gate, so whenever I feel homesick for the smell of art supplies, I normally end up here. It’s decently stocked with stationary supplies as well. I’ve even seen bookbinding supplies. I imagine most of the art majors at Ewha frequent this place a lot.

What’s unique about this store is that in addition to selling Winsor & Newton half pans, they also offer the 24 half pan set. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like traveling a lot with my paints so pans being so readily available warm my little stone heart.

In the paper section, I found blocks of Saunders Waterford Paper. It’s pretty difficult to find in America, so I was surprised to see it here. They have a 12 x 16 inch block that I don’t think is available anywhere else.

*There also little animal finger puppets here. They sort of caught me a bit off-guard.

4. Various little art stores around Hongdae
Hongdae is probably the artsiest place I know of in Seoul, and you can usually see artwork displayed on the sidewalks. Everytime I walk to Hongdae, I always pass by a couple really small (but decently stocked) art supply stores. So you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding things.

*I would also like to note that Korean watercolor seems to favor a certain technique that uses many brushstokes with different colors. A bit different since watercolor is normally taught to be economical with brushstrokes. But this way does seem kind of liberating.

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