I don't have a big budget or a large credit account. The majority of things that I buy are used in my classes by my students. I buy quality products that I know will stand up and out last cheaper crap. I only buy things to use in classes that I have bought myself, tested and loved. I will not recommend anything that I don't personally use and adore.
I'm very frugal with buying my books and magazines often frequenting my favorite used bookstore (my favorite shop, Iliad Books in North Hollywood has a $1-10 table that I LOVE) and local friends of the library sale. I also like to use images from free magazines and flyers. Sometimes I take my own photos. I also have swapped images with friends (they often know what I like and vice versa). It's all good and it works.
I'm a big fan of low budget art. You do not need a lot of money or a lot or stuff to do this. You need:
1. Passion-the desire and eagerness to express yourself.
2. Time- 5-15 minutes sprinkled throughout the day are just as good as huge blocks of time. Grab the time when you can. Use it.
3. Supplies-you do not need a ton of stuff to make art. Sure, the other stuff is fun, but no one NEEDS it. Look at Henry Darger who found old books and trash to paint on. Look at the plethora of avante garde artists. Hell, even Rauschenberg tore up magazines and newspapers.
You need-glue (glue sticks work), a journal (you can make one from cereal boxes, old books, cardboard, an old wallet, record covers, etc..., use scrap paper as pages, pens (find a pen you love and go for it) and paper to rip up and glue down. If you can cut, rip and paste, you're good to go.
Cut images out of magazines. Use half an image, part of an image. See how many different ways you can use the faces you find in magazines. Cut out magazine pages you like for their colors and textures and save them. Shred them, layer them and voila! Instant background! Draw, doodle, play with your pens.
You can make art on a budget without fancy gadgets or supplies.
-Try freecyle or craigslist for art supplies cheap or free.
-Find a local teacher supply store (where you can get junk no one has taken the time to assess the true potential and value of it).
-Try scrap stores, thrift stores, stuff left on sidewalks, posters and flyers that are outdated and stuck on walls or telephone poles.
-Try looking at junk mail and flyers in a new way.
You can make art from anything. All you need is your imagination.
What's the most unusual thing you have used as an art supply?