Monday, 20 September 2010

Your favourite coloured pencil - an update

551 people have now voted on the Making A Mark 2010 POLL: Which is the best brand of artist grade coloured pencil? on Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artist.  

Current votes show a quite dramatic change in the overall numbers when compared to the percentages as at 31st December 2009 - see Two new coloured pencil opinion polls for 2010 which has a chart for the previous poll.

When disaggregated into brands in 2010, it's very clear that Faber Castell Polychromos pencils are the leading brand of coloured pencils and have a clear and significant lead over Prismacolor Premier pencils. 

2010 POLL: Which is the best brand of artist grade coloured pencil?

Detailed results are as follows:
  • Faber Castell Polychromos - their percentage of the market shows a small increase (28.7% compared to 27.3% in 2009)
  • In 2009 I just offered Sanford Prismacolor as one option and this topped the poll at 29.4%.  However what was taken to be a clear lead attributable to the popularity of Prismacolor Pencils now appears illusory given the percentage who like the Art Stix.  Overall there is a slight drop ion aggregated market share.
    • 17.6% for Prismacolor Premier in 2010
    • 1.5% for Premier Lightfast
    • 8.5% for Prismacolor Art Stix
    • 0.7@ for Sanford Prismacolor Verithin
  • Caran d'Ache retains overall market share - however it is now split across two brands
    • Caran d'Ache Pablo have dropped from 10.4% to 6.4% - a drop of 4%. 
    • However Caran d'Ache Luminance (an accredited lightfast range) - which were not offered as an option in the last poll - now count for 3.8%
  • Derwent was the only make in the previous poll where I identified the individual brands.  Overall to date Derwent has experienced a drop of 2.5%.  Changes to date are as follows:
    • 8.7% in 2010 for Derwent Artists - compared to 9.3%
    • 9.8% for Derwent Coloursoft - compared to 11.2%
    • 4.5% Derwent Studio - compared to zero
    • zero for Derwent Signature - compared to 2%
  • Lyra Rembrandt has reduced from 7.2% to 4.9% in 2010.
  • Royal Talens Van Gogh (an accredited lightfast range) has increased from 2% to 2.4% in 2010
  • Blick Studio Artists is a newcomer to my poll and takes  2.4%
I'm trying to work out what the reasons for the changes might be.  Preliminary guesses are as follows:

Technical sampling issues
  • small changes are more than likely accounted for by sample size
  • Last time the narrower range of options on offer probably meant people opted for whatever was the nearest option.  
  • Similarly the changes in pencil brands alone will account for some of the changes
  • Prismacolor seems to have stopped marketing its lightfast range (it's nowhere to be seen on its website) - which is odd given the relative success that Carann d'Ache have had in marketing the Luminance range which is not cheap!
  • The initial enthusiasm for Coloursoft is probably reflected more in the older poll and this one probably represents better the long-run demand level
  • I have an impression - and that's all it is - that American artists now experiment more with brands which are not Prismacolor.  
  • Overall, I'm guessing, but I think the more people order online the more likely they are to try brands which are not stocked in their local art shop
  • The sterling exchange rate is having a significant impact on the cost of some pencils for UK artists.
  • The exchange rate also means some products look better value to USA artists
    All suggestions are welcome as to any other possible explanations.

    I'll repeat this analysis after the end of the year and start a new poll for 2011.

    You can find out more about the different brands of artist grade coloured pencils on  Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artist - where you will also find a poll for watercolour pencils!


    Felicity Grace said...

    Well, I came expecting to see Prismacolor out in the lead again but this is a surprise! Although, like you, I get the impression that more artists are trying out different brands as I've seen Polychromos mentioned more often than Prismacolors in the last few months. Myself, I'm undecided as I like the Lyra Rembrandts, Polychromos and Derwents about equally!

    dougm said...

    I, too, expected to see Prismacolor in the lead. The nearest of my local art supply stores has stopped carrying much other than Prismacolor - no Lyra, no Polychromos, and only a small sampling of Derwent. The hobby&craft stores went that way even earlier. At the same time, at least one of the larger mail order shops is now carrying Lyra in open stock due to demand for it. Giving less choice locally is going to push more people to online shopping.

    Of course, I'm hooked on brands no longer available in the US so I mostly use Polychromos and Lyra.

    njart73 said...

    I can see why Faber Castell Polychromos are becoming more popular. These pencils have a consistent quality and a very good palette of color. I also like to work with Derwent Artist, Studio and Coloursoft pencils.
    It seems that Derwent Artist pencils are no longer available in the USA as open stock so I now select from the Coloursoft line and supplement them with Faber Castell. Unfortunately for some reason Derwent discontinued their Signature line of lightfast pencils after a short time on the market. These were a joy to work with . Looking over the Coloursoft chart I noticed that many of the purples and violets are not lightfast. Why Derwent cannot make the entire line of Coloursoft pencils lightfast is beyond my comprehension. Coloursoft pencils are comfortable to handle have good color and blend well. Derwent Studio were my first colored pencils when I began to work in this medium. Talens Van Gogh is another color pencil that I enjoyed painting with but they are no longer available in the USA. I am hoping that someday they will be back on the market but if I go to Europe I am going to stock up on them. Sometimes Prismacolor has a tendency to break while being sharpened but there some colors in their palette that I find useful. They also had a lightfast line that apparently has been discontinued. Once again this is also beyond my comprehension because there is a demand for lightfast color pencils. In reading the comments posted Dougm mentioned that at last one mail order shop is carrying Lyra open stock.I wonder which one? I would enjoy being able to purchase Lyra again as open stock.

    Making A Mark said...

    Wow long comment from njart!

    The updates on the situation on specific pencil availability in the USA is welcome.

    I wonder if this is universal and will be checking with the manufacturers as to distribution in the USA.

    Binko Barnes said...

    Njart, perhaps I can shed a little light on why companies would discontinue their lines of lightfast pencils. Corporate marketing people often dislike it when premium products are advertised as having specific technical advantages over the standard lines. Pointing out that one line of pencils is lightfast tends to highlight the fact that the standard line (which is usually the bestselling line) may not be lightfast.

    Another problem arises in the way that colored pencils are sold at a consistent price point. Lightfast pigments in certain color ranges can be very expensive. Look at how any line of artists oil colors are sold at a variety of price points.

    But with colored pencils, even though the pigment for a brown pencil may cost one tenth of the pigment for a violet pencil, they are all sold at a single price point. Therefore, the more lightfast pigments that are used the higher the price the pencils must be sold across the entire line.

    The best solution, in my opinion, would be to sell a line of artists colored pencils that are priced like artists oils so that a brown umber pencil might sell for fifty cents while a cadmium yellow pencil would sell for three dollars. But this would be a huge break with the traditional way that colored pencils are marketed.

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