When I was browsing Jerry’s Artarama online a few years ago, I came across a relatively new art supply brand: SoHo Urban Artist, which appears to be sold exclusively by Jerry’s. At the time, the only experience I’d had with them was through samples which Jerry’s had included in one of my earlier orders (coloured pencils, which were okay but nothing special compared to other coloured pencils I’ve used; and watercolour tube paints, which were weak and watery and smelled like someone had pooped in the tube and just added some dye). One of the products in their range was a set of 24 small (21ml) tubes of acrylic paint for about $13AUD, and though I was tempted, I was put off by the prospect that they might be similar in quality to the watercolours. After reading a few reviews and posts on art supply forums, it seemed that the general consensus regarding these paints was that they were very good quality for their price, and since they were so cheap, I went ahead and added a box to my order.
As soon as they arrived, I made up a colour chart on a sheet of cheap canvas, using pure colour in the top half of the swatches and diluting them with water in the bottom half.
It didn’t take much time for me to realise that my fears about the SoHo acrylics being of the same standard as their watercolours was unfounded. Though not up in the ranks of Chroma Atelier Interactive or M Graham acrylics, the pigment concentration was pretty good, and the colours are bright and bold. Sometimes it took a little more paint to get a truly opaque layer, but as with many things, you get what you pay for, so I didn’t mind too much.
The box and description on the site claim that they use the ‘finest pigments’ and offer ‘professional quality and performance’, however since no pigment information is listed, I would take this with a grain of salt and assume that at least several of the colours are fugitive. The 24 colour set provides a balanced selection of colours, and most of the colours look identical or at least very similar to the equivalent paint in other brands (sometimes with bargain bin art supplies, the colours bear no resemblance to what they should look like).
SoHo Urban Artist acrylics are heavy bodied, meaning you can use them for impasto or textured applications, or paint with a palette knife as easily as with a brush. As with most acrylics, they can be thinned a little to resemble a fluid acrylic, or thinned down further to an inky consistency and used almost like watercolours. There also doesn’t seem to be a huge colour shift when they dry, which I’m sure a lot of artists will appreciate.
Though the only set of SoHo acrylics available is this 24 set of miniature tubes, you can also buy the full range of 52 colours individually, in 75ml or 250ml tubes or in 500ml jars (the latter of which work out to be about $13 AUD). This makes them a very economical choice for student artists or for those who paint large. Conversely, the 21ml tubes are good for those who like to paint in a journal while out and about or who just like painting trading card- or postcard-sized works.
This is a painting I did with the SoHo acrylics on a postcard-sized Mont Marte canvas panel.
As with many art supplies that are only carried by US retailers, the SoHo Urban Artist acrylics probably aren’t worth buying if you live in Australia (on top of the currency conversion, the shipping would be horrendous), but if you do live in America and you’re just getting started with acrylics, I definitely recommend these.
EDIT: For a step-by-step demonstration of how I did this painting, click here.