Thursday 3 May 2012

Prismacolors' Quality Drop

  The first set of colored pencils I had ever had was the Prismacolors Premier, Set of 132.

 In Singapore, where I live, it's really expensive to buy Art materials because we import everything. So, it cost me about $300 plus for this set. I thought it was worth it, because I had done my market research. Lots of Artists swore by the brand.

  One thing I really love about Prismacolor is that they have colors that other brands do not carry. "Limepeel", fo example, is an odd green color. But, I've grown to love it a lot because it looks like a natural green. Prismacolor also produces a good set of greys, seperated into warm greys and cool greys. Although if you wanted to darken a color, I'd suggest adding its complementary color and not grey. The greys would be, however, great for drawing white things.

  It wasn't all that bad. The pigments laid on well. The packaging was well done. There even was an instructional CD in the set which I truly enjoyed watching. However, as I started to do large paintings, I began to notice some quality problems in the pencils.

  My set contains an orange called, well, "Orange". PC 918 is its reference number. And at that point of time, right after my purchase, I decided to do an orange-red flower. Thus, "Orange" was an obvious choice. It's the brightest and purest orange in the set.

  Problem is, it didn't hold its point well. I thought, "Well, Prismacolors are wax-based pencils, so probably it's just how it is because that's how the pencils are made." However, when I tried sharpening that perticular pencil, its lead started to break. Not once, not twice, but thrice. It was horrible to see the lead go to waste. I stored the broken leads in a small box though.

  Later, I bought a electric sharpener. (I had been using a manual sharpener before that.) The breakage stopped. Thankfully. But the wood would chip sometimes.

  Many Artist have had the same problem and one of the reason we'd guess Prismacolors' quality would have dropped was that, now, Prismacolors produces its pencils in Mexico. You can see on the lowest pencil the words "MEXICO" stamped on it.

 It used to be made in the US of A. Perhaps, they had to cut costs? But seriously, we Artist treasure and love all of our materials because:
 1. They cost a lot of money to buy.
 2. We use them to create Art.
 3. They are how we express ourselves.

  So to have a company, whom have had a solid reputation for producing the best colored pencils in the market suddenlly have a quality drop is quite sad, really. All those years of building trust with Artists gone down the drain.

  If you'd like to see a discussion on the quality drop in Prismacolors, click here.

It seems like a recent thing, so if you have an older stock, good for you. If you're intending to buy a new stock, ask if they are made in Mexico or USA. If they are made in Mexico, I'd say not to buy, cause they are expensive and you do want to get what you paid for.

  Some Artists are giving their kids their current sets and are going to switch brands. Others are going to stick to Prismacolors and hope that the company would change back to the pencils made in the USA. Others have said that they would use up those pencils that they had before switching brands.

  I, for one, have my eye on the Polychromos set of 120 in a wooden box. But for now, I make do with what I have and the pencils don't break at all with my new electric sharpener. Although, they do chip once in a while.

  If you've reached this page trying to find where to get Prismacolors in Singapore, click here.

  What about you? Have you had any bad experiences with Prismacolor coloured pencils? Or are you the lucky few with an older stock? Which brands of colored pencils do you use and which do you prefer? Tell me in the comment section below.


  1. May I know where did you bought this from? I cant find it in Singapore...

    1. If you actually read the post, you would have seen a link.

  2. hello glad i have read this post with regards to Prismacolors been wanting to buy at artmark too but i find them so expensive for a first timer like me and i'm not sure with the quality. indeed many artist used them as a medium so i wanna try them out. it's good to have an overview. thank you! :)

    1. I'm glad I could help. It's very sweet of you to have left a comment too. I appreciate it. :)

      You can try Coloursoft pencils. They're much more affordable and available locally at Art Friend.

      A helpful link with regards to coloured pencils:

  3. thank you so much for the recommendation :) appreciate it as i'm utterly clueless for brands.
    picking up the right brand for color pencils to include in my wish list hahaha :) i changed it to coloursoft :)

    by the way thank you for this blog/ posts. :) helps and inspire me a lot. :) keep it up! :) till next time :D

  4. I checked amazon and the same set costs about SGD140 with free shipping too. The price difference though ._.

    1. I did a very quick check on Amazon, and my purchase (if I had really bought it) totalled to $175 including shipping and handling.
      But the inflated price that is provided by stores in Singapore is what you get when there's a lot of demand and very low supply. Art Mark is the sole distributor of Prismacolor, and frankly, they provide horrible customer service and are probably swallowing the extra profits. If you really REALLY want to get Prismas (even after reading what I've wrote about their quality drop), go ahead and buy from Amazon. It ships from them, and I've had great shopping experiences with Amazon.

      If you're a reader of my blog, my current preferred brand of coloured pencils is Derwent's Coloursoft. They're available from Art Friend in sets and in open stocks. They're really soft. Good quality. Beautiful colours. Very competitive price. Try them. Maybe you'll like them. :)

    2. Thanks for the recommendation, I'll try that someday! I guess next time I'll probably buy supplies from Amazon now that I've seen how bad the inflation has gotten. Thanks again for your help! :)