It can be challenging to find quality art supplies in Beijing, especially if you don’t speak much Mandarin. So, we set out on a mission to uncover the best art stores the city has to offer. Whether you’ve got a toddler who loves to doodle or a teenage Van Gogh on your hands, Beijing has the tools to foster your child’s artistic growth. We round up the good, the great, the mom-approved, and the environmentally friendly. Challenge accepted.
The Good: Beijing Gehua Baihua
It’s appropriate that one of the oldest art suppliers in town, Beijing Gehua Baihua is located close to one of its oldest landmarks, the Forbidden City. Located directly across the street from the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), Beijing Gehua Baihua is nestled within a row of art stores that are easily overlooked given their slightly run-down appearance.
However, Gehua and its neighbors seem to stock everything. From obscure paint-it-yourself tree models to thick sketchbooks, Gehua Baihua has it all. Paintbrushes take up an entire wall of the store. Depending on quality, they range from RMB 85 per item to RMB 120 for a set of five. Entire aisles are dedicated to tubes, jars, and cans of paint. Acrylic, spray paint, powdered paint, oil paint, fabric paint, watercolors, glass paint, and ceramic paint are available individually or in sets. A 250ml jar of basic acrylic paint costs RMB 31.
There are a variety of easels, modeling clay, sketchbooks, varnish, and non-toxic paint with brands such as Pebeo, Windsor, and Newton. While the stores here are geared more toward art students and serious artists, you can still find products for kids like pastels, markers, stencils, finger paint, and more. There are decorating sets with airplanes, treasure boxes, piggy banks, or wind chimes with paint and brushes included (RMB 60 each).
For some inspiration, head across the street to NAMOC or take a 15-minute stroll to Jingshan Park after you’re done picking up supplies.
The Great: Beijing International Art Material Center
Near the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Wangjing lies a three-story art supply haven called Beijing International Art Material Center. Once you enter the building, take the stairs to the second level, where you’ll find a slew of shops solely dedicated to art supplies. Whether your child is a serious painter in search of the perfect canvas (or even a beginner gardener), you’ll find supplies here at competitive prices. Watercolors, varnish, and sketchpads are some of the many items priced in the single digits, with brands like Marie, Sakura, and Faber-Castell. Large canvas bags range from RMB 58 to 68 while canvases themselves range from RMB 34 to RMB 146 depending on the size. A set of eight Voltaire paintbrushes costs RMB 68.
There’s an entire aisle dedicated to kid-friendly washable, dermatologically-tested, and non-toxic supplies. Zenith and Crayola make up the majority of the selection, with products like a six-piece face paint set (RMB 48 including pencils and a picture guide), sidewalk chalk (RMB 48), and a basic eight-piece Crayola marker set (RMB 32). Some coffee shops and a bookstore make up the first floor of the International Art Material Center. We only came across one English magazine at the bookstore, which mainly carries Chinese art books.
Mom-Approved: Toys “R” Us
Toys “R” Us is a great resource for younger kids, with aisle upon aisle of art supplies best suited for ages 5 and under. Parents can find Crayola’s travel-friendly Mess-Free line; each package contains a washable dry erase board with markers, an erase cloth, and carrying bag for RMB 134. We also like the 23-piece floor puzzle (RMB 94) and the glow-in-the-dark 3D mural art (RMB 99), an airbrush craft art tattoo kit (RMB 149), and a set of foam stamps with an anti-drip paint palette (RMB 158). You will also find a plethora of Play-Doh products and an entire section dedicated to Disney. Let’s just say you might have trouble convincing the kids to leave.
The Environmentally-Friendly: Motherswork
Though the majority of its products consist of maternity and baby gear, popular Singaporean retailer Motherswork offers a small but high-quality art selectionFeaturing recycled materials, their line of reusable coloring place mats (RMB (99 each) are BPA-free, lead- and latex-free, and come with four “kid-safe” dry erase markers. With themes like alphabet animals, cartoon city settings such as Paris and New York, and occupations, it’s perfect for young children just starting to develop their motor skills.
For slightly older kids, we like the stamp markers with activity books (RMB 69-99) and the Decorate Your Own line by Melissa and Doug, which includes a foam tiara with glitter glue and stick-on jewels (RMB 69), or a wooden flower chest (RMB 69). Motherswork is a good place to start if you’re looking to give your baby a base for art appreciation and self-expression.
Beijing Gehua Baihua 北京歌华百花
Daily 9am-6pm. 12 Wusi Dajie, Dongcheng District (6559 2147) www. baihuaart.cn 东城区五四大街12号
Beijing International Art Material Center 北京国际画材中心
Daily 10am-6pm. Bldg 15 (across from Central Academy of Fine Arts), Huajiadi Beili, Wangjing, Chaoyang District (6475 7370/2959) www.im-art-art.cn 朝阳区花家地北里15号楼（中央美术学院对面）
Toys “R” Us 玩具反斗城
1) Daily 10am-10pm. Rm 52, B1/F, CapitaMall Taiyanggong, 12 Taiyanggong Zhonglu, Chaoyang District (8429 7072, firstname.lastname@example.org) 朝阳区朝阳区太阳宫中路12号凯德广场B1层52号; 2) Daily 10am-10pm. Rm 10-5F, Chaoyang Joy City, Chaoyang Beilu 101, Chaoyang District (8552 2898) 朝阳区朝阳北路101号朝阳大悦城5F-10
Daily 10am-10pm. Store L-VDM-20, Block 2, Solana Lifestyle and Shopping Park, 6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District (5905 6905, email@example.com) 朝阳区朝阳区朝阳公园路6号院蓝色港湾国际商区2号楼L-VDM-20号店铺
Photos by Mitchell Pe Masilun and Ken