Professional Practice

A List of 7 Must-Haves to Rock the Complete Art Teacher Lifestyle

art shirts

We love art teachers for their creativity and ability to go against the grain—and own it! Sometimes we like to rock the boat, think outside the box, and live on the fine line between genius and insanity. To do this right, we not only act the part but often look it, live it, and breathe it. This may manifest in the way we dress and what we eat. If you are looking for more ways to embrace your art teacher quirkiness or want to scan the list to see how many you can check off, this is the perfect read for you today!

Here are seven “must-haves” to live out the art teacher lifestyle with bold impact and minimal effort.

1. Snacks

If you’ve ever attended the NOW Conference, you know art teachers are serious about their artsy snacks and drinks. Sip a Arnofini Palmer and munch on some Frida Queso or Norman Guac-Well. Yum! But even in the everyday art teacher life, food is a huge part of what keeps us going. While Claude Monet’s favorite was eggs orsini and Frida Kahlo opted for nopales salad, you may fancy something a bit simpler. Try a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, an apple before lunch, a classic PB&J for the afternoon, and some pasta for supper.

However you round off the day, you can feel like a true artist by watching Art Cooking. This video series explores favorite artists and the types of foods that kept them going throughout their careers. Who knows? You may try something they loved, and it could inspire a whole new level of creativity! Share this series with your students for a fun way to increase their appetites for art history.

2. Coffee, Tea, or Both?

The debate is on! Do you prefer coffee or tea? Maybe you do not like either of them and prefer a can of soda instead. No matter the case, being an artist means slurping down your favorite drink to stay caffeinated, hydrated, or both. Having your beverage of choice on hand can help get you through your busy teaching schedule or help you stay up late to recharge in your studio!

Did you know you can support the arts while drinking your favorite coffee beverage? Meet Coffee for the Arts, an organization in California that gives 10% of the proceeds to the arts in LA County Schools. If you’re not local, don’t worry! You can order coffee (in well-designed packaging featuring famous artworks) online and have it shipped to your door.

vermeer coffee package

3. Mugs, Notebooks, and Puppets

Where can you get an art mug, quippy notebook, and an artist finger puppet? The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, of course! Equip yourself with cool paraphernalia to show off your creative flair and zest for the subject you love. What says “I am a cool art teacher” better than drinking out of a color-changing mug? Get ready for your next meeting with a mini masterpieces notebook. Or, make art history come to life with a Georgia O’Keeffe finger puppet. Indulge yourself because part of being a right-brained thinker is having fun and expressing yourself in a silly way!

4. T-Shirts and Aprons

Fashion can be an important part of being an art teacher. It can be another way to express who we are and what interests us. Check out Tee Public for affordable and creative t-shirts, perfect for casual Fridays. Type in “art” or “art teacher” and see what fun items pop up!

Aside from having some dress-down garb, you may find yourself in need of a kitschy apron to wear during class. You can buy a premade apron, but you can also make a no-sew apron from an old t-shirt. This can be a cool class project at the beginning of the year for students to make their own aprons!

art shirts

5. Movies and Documentaries

Note: Be sure to review all resources and preview all artists before determining if they are appropriate to share with your students.

Living the art teacher dream means binge-watching art movies and documentaries on the weekends. Not only does it fuel your desire to learn fun art facts, but it can spur lesson ideas and artistic inspiration! Take a look at this article for six movies to stream while you sketch or catch up on house projects.

Add these art-focused movies to your viewing lineup too:

 6. Books

Art teachers know inspiration can come from anywhere, including books. Books are also great for research, learning how to do something, or discovering a new topic. Buy books for the classroom or for your home. Because they’re educational, the occasional book can be worth the splurge! However, paying full price for a whole library can get expensive. Do not be afraid to buy gently used books from AmazonHalf Priced Books, or AbeBooks. See if your local library runs any book sales and periodically check thrift stores and garage sales if you’re up for a treasure hunt.

art books

Are you looking for interesting art books? Try these:

7. Art Supplies

What is an artist or art teacher without art supplies? Wandering around your favorite brick-and-mortar art store can be a rejuvenating experience—feeling the selection of handmade papers under your fingertips and smelling the unique blend of paint and glue. However, buying art supplies and staying within budget can be tricky. Sometimes purchasing online can be more affordable. Blick has a fantastic selection of quality products, including a clearance section with good deals!

art supplies

Art teachers have a passion for the visual arts and a love for teaching. We love our jobs so much that they can become a lifestyle. It can even show in our everyday decisions of what to wear, eat, read, and watch. So embrace all the quirkiness that can come along with being an art teacher! Get through the day with your favorite snacks and a couple of minutes here and there with your nose buried in an art book. Rock dress-down day with a creative t-shirt and stay up late on Friday night to watch heart-wrenching yet informative documentaries. However you decide to manifest your art teacher self, own it with the confidence of an artist!

Keep the art-style makeover going by adding some flair to your desk to boost your art teacher lifestyle.

What other art teacher must-haves would you add to this list?

Share what embracing your art teacher quirkiness looks like for you!

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Joshua Chrosniak

Josh Chrosniak, an elementary art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. He enjoys STEAM, environmental, and other forms of interdisciplinary art lessons in a choice-based classroom environment.

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