The Coolest Art Supplies At Creativation/Art Materials World

Last month I got the opportunity to attend the Creativation/Art Materials World conference and to say I was impressed was an understatement! I have attended a few toy events to visit Crayola such as the Toy Fair and Sweet Suite. While I love toy conferences and feature STEM and art activities for kids on this website, I knew I needed to find a similar conference for art materials. It was a dream of mine. At the beginning of the year I made it a goal to look for such a conference and I stumbled onto the NAMTA website and saw this conference was going on. I had to go. The good news is I found it and the other good news is that it was happening soon. Some conferences like Toy Fair were canceled this year, but not Art Materials World. I signed up right away and was super excited to attend.

Some of the supplies were provided as samples from the conference for review.

Join me in this blog post as I describe what attending the conference was like and all the cool products I saw. There are some that are not public knowledge yet and I am keeping it that way, but guaranteed when I can talk about them, I will. 

My Favorite Supplies

What were some of the coolest supplies I found that I can talk about? Here they are. I did not include every company I talked to or everything the company makes otherwise this post would be a novel. I met with over 30 companies. I hope you enjoy what I found!

DecoArt has over 300 colors of paint! I joined their Maker program and will be hopefully doing some projects with their supplies soon. They also have some fluid art ready to pour and marble art I can not wait to try.

This was an image from the Marbling class DecoArt did.

photo courtesy of DecoArt

Uchida has some amazing products, brush pens, Just Glitter, Snow Marker, Gel Pens and water brushes.

Photo courtesy of Uchida.

Speedball has a calligraphy book coming out I can not wait to get.

Photo courtesy of Speedball

Tombow has brush markers alcohol and water based. I got both of them to try and love them. They also have Twin Tones, great adhesives, lots of erasers and colored pencils.

Derwent colored pencils are really cool. They have many different lines. I will be posting my full review for the Lightfast line soon. The Colourfast line is coming to the US too.

The whole Holbein colored pencil line is coming to the US this year from Japan. I got to try out their 12 count tins, Pastel Tone Set, Design Tone Set and Basic Tone Set. The sets will be available in 12, 24, 36, 50,100 and 150 counts.

Holbein also makes some really pretty paint colors.

Golden Artists has some amazing colors and sent me some beautiful swatches of their colors. I will be writing a post on those this year and maybe trying out some of their color mixing techniques. They really love to help artists and have a hotline to call to ask technical questions.

Copic has high quality alcohol basked markers. They are super pricey, but are the go to standard for alcohol markers.


I have Faber-Castell colored pencils and watercolor pencils. I love their color system! Why? Because one they label their art supplies and two their colors are consistent across their products. I love interchanging supplies. How neat is is to know that the green color is consistent across the markers, pastels and colored pencils?

 I found out at Creativation is that Faber-Castell has three lines:

  • Green- Art & Graphic products are the highest quality products
  • Blue-Creative Studio is affordable products for young artists and hobbyists.
  • Red-Children's art products
I can not wait to try their Creative studio products, they look like they would be really fun for journaling and crafts. While the children's products are above and beyond. It is like a toy store, they have kits, supplies and toys for all ages. 

Lyra has some amazing colored pencils, markers and pens. 

Zebra's line is really good for journaling and crafts. I think they sent me almost everything. My favorites are the Mildliners, Glitter highlighters, brush pens, felt tip pens and pens. I have been on a search for a good pen and I found it with Sarasa Clip and Sarasa felt tip pen.

There are 10 new Mildliner brush pens coming this summer!

Photo courtesy of Zebra.

Hahnemuhle makes some high quality paper. I got to try the Harmony Watercolor paper, Bamboo paper and Nostalgia paper and am loving it!

Beacon Adhesives makes every adhesive imaginable. For reals. I even made one a flower wreath project at one of their classes. They sent me some fabric glue too because we are always running out.

Toss products makes some great biodegradable paint palettes made of recycle paper.

Newell brands owns Sharpie, Elmer's Glue, Prismacolor, Mr. Sketch, Flair Pen, like all my favorite brands. I had no idea they owned all those brands. I found out about the Sharpie S-Note and some other cool things that are coming in the pipeline. Here are the S-Notes and Mystic Gems for now. The Mystic Gems are new this year. See all the Sharpie colors here.

Yasutomo has the coolest origami paper. They also have a cool paste Nori that will work with their paper. It is made for the lightest of papers. I also can not wait to try out their Watercolor line.

Artventure has some amazing STEM activities for adolescents. There are so many sets to build.

photo courtesy of Artventure

Attending the Conference

How was the virtual event Creativation/Art Materials World set up? It consisted of; browsing the companies virtual booths, meeting with companies one on one, attending some super awesome amazing educational classes and attending zoom networking events. The attendees included the suppliers, buyers and some influencers from the Craft and Art Materials industry.

I attended several classes. A couple of my favorites were the Beacon Class with Beth Kingston. They sent us the materials and I got to make the wreath.

I also really enjoyed the class with Lynn Lily, "Working with Influencers 2.0". She was amazing and even though it was geared towards manufacturers I found a lot of relevant information. I think a lot of times as influencers there is expectations to "work for free". She emphasized that this is her job and she does not do free work. She works with companies to find what exactly they want from her and who they want to reach. I am a little jealous because she has a paying gig with Crayola and that would be my dream! After the event there was a live Q&A with Lynn where we got to ask her questions. 

There were also some networking opportunities that were amazing where we were able to connect with other attendees.

From the pasts event I had attended I learned that meetings are the key to building relationships with companies. My first year at Toy Fair I had one meeting when I went in, one meeting...and ended up meeting with 5-6 companies. The next year I had close to 40 meetings. Because I had attended Toy Fair I knew that meetings were the key to Creativation and setting them up early was the key too. Meeting times often get booked up really fast and it can be a lot easier to get a meeting in the beginning than waiting until the day of the event to get a meeting. IE do not try to get into Mattel or Lego by showing up at their booth at Toy Fair, the likelihood of getting in is minimal. I know I tried. The next year I emailed in months in advance and got into both. For Creativation/Art Materials World I set up meetings right away. I scheduled about 26 and talked to over 30 companies throughout the conference.

As soon as the site opened up I started requesting meetings. Later I learned that the companies had wished they had a day or so to set their schedules. I was requesting meetings for 9:00 AM EST and some of the companies were in the PST time zone. Many of the meetings I requested were approved. I had no idea how the meetings would happen, and doubted they would happen. But I should have had more faith because spoiler alert, many of them happened without a glitch. Only one out of 26 requests did not get accepted.  I mostly requested art materials meetings, but I did request a few craft company meetings. Companies were also able to request meetings with me. 

The day came for the conference and I was super nervous. I had made my excel sheet and checked it twice, putting in all the names of the people I was meeting with, their role at the company and the classes I was attending. I was booked. It did not help my nerves that my very first meeting was with Faber-Castell, one of my favorite art supply companies and one of the reasons I wanted to attend. I had no idea what to expect and did not want to mess up. I set up my daughters iPad on my ironing board right in front of my feature art supply wall in my house and gave it a go. Within the app I learned that I could not initiate calls with the companies, but had to wait for them. I could initiate a call with an attendee that represented the company I later learned. Someone from Faber-Castell called me! I was so excited to talk to her. It went great and I did not have to worry at all. Most of the meetings went off without a hitch. Some used the software in the event site and some set up calls in Microsoft Teams and Zoom to accommodate more people.

The meetings were so different from Toy Fair for a couple reasons. At Toy Fair I had spaced some meetings 15 minutes apart and some were so short, plus I had to navigate the Javits center, which is equivalent to a ton of football fields. I had a color coordinated map showing my meeting and my walking paths. I really should have put in bathroom breaks I learned later. But for the Art Supply Conference I was in my own home and bathroom/water/snack breaks were super easy! The meetings for NAMTA were spaced 30 minutes apart. I only had a couple go over. It was super easy to be on time for meetings and end on time. I also met with some companies after the conference was over.  

The other difference from Toy Fair is the companies at Toy Fair are basically showing all their products the whole time and I was filming. It was more about promotion of their toys for the year than networking if that makes sense. At NAMTA the meetings were more geared toward networking and establishing relationships, ie how can we work together, how does what you are doing apply to my company? I loved that aspect, because while I love Toy Fair sometimes I felt I had to have those conversations after and it is easier to have those in person. Plus at NAMTA I was dealing with a lot of the direct representatives from the company while at Toy Fair I was dealing with a lot of PR and Marketing firms. 

What Did I Think?

All in all Creativation/Art Materials world was amazing! It was really neat to be able to meet with companies and see all the new and cool products they have available. It was also good to establish relationships with these companies. The online event was probably the 2nd best set up and 1st as far as content. Sweet Suite wins for the best set up and this conference wins for the most interactive. It was five days long, had tons of content, tons of companies to meet with, and was super easy to interact on. The conference is still up until June. I can connect with people on there and see any sessions I missed. I can not wait to go in person next year in Orlando!

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