Singapore Art Stores: Quick Pros And Cons Reviews

Introduction

Depending on your country, you will have various options for purchasing arts and crafts. From having a lot of options, not just store wise but material wise, like the United States to sadly very little if you are not in a developed country.

Singapore is a developed country and it has its own art stores, but there’s only so many materials/brands you can get without going online, regardless, there are quite a few with a few staple names always being said. Other than those there are small mainly more crafts than art stores, I will be mentioning the staple names and giving short reviews of each.

The staple names are Art Friend, a old staple that has dominated the local art supplies market, Overjoyed, a relatively new art supply store, Straits Commercial, possibly even older than Art Friend though not as dominant but still a staple as they are near art schools and have only one iconic outlet. Other stores are usually small indie craft stores that also only have one outlet and are more towards the crafting side than the arts.

Side-note, before the reviews to explain, it has to be mentioned that there’s an interesting dynamic to brands here. For example, Singapore’s McDonald’s only sells Coca-Cola for their staple fizzy drink, Singapore’s KFC and Pizza Hut only sells Pepsi, they can’t sell both, they have licensees related to those brands to sell those brands.

The reasons are several, first I believe its to create some form of competition.

For example, maybe you prefer Pepsi to Coca-Cola and you don’t want to spend extra money on changing the drink to something else like Green Tea and Milo which is a lot more expensive than the base price, so you might prefer getting food from KFC for the Pepsi and the Root Beer.

If McDonald’s can sell both Pepsi and Coca-Cola then that option would be more messier unless you don’t like McDonald’s specifically. If you don’t feel more towards liking KFC or McDonald’s then you can just go to McDonald’s with has both.

Secondly, could be conflict of branding interest, having those two similar brands next to each other can cause a conflict and people who not really prefer one to the other might get paralyzed by choice and not get any of the two at all.

This interesting dynamic exists in art stores as well, only Art Friend can sell Winsor & Newton and Daler Rowney brands, they and only they have the license for those brands, there was a time while Overjoyed was at its old location at Golden Wall Centre behind the art school Lasalle, when they were placing their Winsor & Newton paints at a very low price because Art Friend had obtained the license, nobody else could sell those brands anymore and they had to clear the stock and it has been that way ever since till now.

Art Friend and only Art Friend can sell the highly regarded Winsor & Newton brand, nobody else anywhere in Singapore can do the same. That affects a lot on the art supplies market. If you need/want Winsor & Newton locally, you can only go to Art Friend, no other choice.

Now onto the short pros and cons reviews of each along with a special entry at the end.

Art Friend

With 3 branches in Singapore, at Brash Basah, Clementi and Plaza Sing, this is likely the first name that comes up when you think of an art store.

Pros:

  1. More than one branch, can be found in relatively central locations.
  2. Membership Discount at only roughly $5.30 membership for two years of membership.
  3. A lot of products to be found, you will likely find what you need.
  4. If you need Winsor & Newton and Daler Rowney only they have it.

Cons:

  1. If you need Winsor & Newton and Daler Rowney only they have it.
  2. The ambience of the stores are drab, they are a lot like dim supermarkets with aisles for whatever you want.
  3. Cramped usually as the designs of the stores have very small aisles.
  4. They have the general sentiment by people that they overprice most of their products.
  5. If you have lots of queries or you are already very knowledgeable about art supplies and want to do deep discussions about them, not all of their staff can do that with you.

Overjoyed

A relatively new art store that was at Golden Mile Center in-front/near Lasalle before they moved to 2 Handy Road, B1-11 The Cathay, Singapore, 229233.

Pros:

  1. Great ambience, bright lighting and spacious floor space to browse products more easily and enjoyably.
  2. They have free membership, just registering your account and showing your online card in the browser gives you a membership discount in-store.
  3. They have certain brands Art Friend does not hold or for cheaper.
  4. They have their own Overjoyed brand of certain types of products that are like the Fairprice/Popular product brand of it being the cheapest of the whole product line but yet still being decent enough to use.

Cons:

  1. Only one branch, but it is also in the town/city near the Plaza Sing Art Friend.
  2. There are some products arranged in a weird way, they have letters assigned to certain shelves probably for the staff themselves to take reference but its not as easy as W is for Watercolour, it can be A is for Watercolour and as a customer looking at the letter A and seeing no brands starting with A or anything to do with A at all can be very misleading to shop.

Straits Commercial

One of the oldest if not the oldest art stores in Singapore. Located at 420 North Bridge Road #01-27 North Bridge Centre, 188727.

Pros:

  1. Likely the best customer service for art supplies you can have in this country, they are the most senior, most established art store despite being only one branch.
  2. They have certain brands Art Friend does not hold or for cheaper.
  3. A long history of serving different generations of artists and their needs.
  4. They know they serve a lot of students because of the art schools nearby so they have student discounts when you present with your student card.

Cons:

  1. Only one branch, but it is also in the town/city, near the Bras Basah Art Friend.
  2. A small space to shop in.

Lazada/Shopee/Online

The special entry, the online store vendors options.

Pros:

  1. You can find absurdly cheap nicks and nacks like really cheap Chinese (hopefully legit?) Winsor & Newton paints that you can use, and easels for much cheaper than the other stores.
  2. They usually have additional vouchers/offers to bring the price down of cart purchases even more.

Cons:

  1. You don’t know what you are getting really till it arrives
  2. Online only shipping fees, no brick and mortar shop to see the product first.

And that’s some of the Singaporean art stores quickly summarized and reviewed.

Here are other posts about art that I have written:

If you liked what you read, please consider supporting me on Patreon (monthly) or ko-fi (one time donations).

Stay safe~!
JR

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