Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: Craig Young Paintbox

This review has been a long time coming, as it was around five years years ago that I received my paintbox from Craig Young.  The problem was, when it arrived I was so disappointed that I couldn't bear to look at the thing and just put it away.

This is very contrary to what most people say about Craig Young paintboxes. I was prepared to be as happy as any other artist when I ordered two paintboxes for delivery to Australia. One box was a gift to my watercolour painting mentor, and one was for myself. I had chosen the 16-pan model, "The Paintbox". I ordered the paintbox and all was well. A year and a half passed. I had allowed eighteen months, and planned to present the paintbox to my mentor for her birthday. Craig and I had discussed when it needed to be ready by, and as I gave him so much notice, I was assured this was not a problem.  As the date drew closer, I enquired about the paintbox, it was not yet started, but I was assured it would arrive in time.

The paintbox did arrive in time, but I was so disappointed in the quality of it that I cancelled the order for my own paintbox. I was appalled, and couldn't believe I had parted with more than five hundred Australian dollars and now had a paintbox I was too embarrassed to give away as a gift.

First was the lumpy appearance of the paintbox. Nothing was quite as smooth as it could-and should- be:

There are plenty of photos of lovely smooth Craig Young paintboxes around, but this isn't one of them.

Then there was the paint finish, poor would be a good word for it:

Exposed brass, overspray, chips and unpainted areas.

This next issue really annoyed me. The long strip of metal in the lid presses against the enameled inner lid - this chips paint off both surfaces. It shipped to me with that chip:

Surely this little ridged area could have been filed to ensure it didn't make contact?

This is another annoying one. The left mixing well is smoothly finished with minimal sharp rim. The right mixing well is unevenly cut out, and traps paint in the overhanging sharp lip area. Too hard to file this away? The two wells on the other side have the same issue, so four wells; one ok, three sub-par.

So different.

Rough brass snap-point or saw-point areas are also present.

The Paintbox, No. #930. I would have been ashamed to put my name on it.

On and off over the years I have taken this paintbox out and wondered about it. Did I get sent a b-grade or old paintbox that had been laying around? Did it get banged out in a hurry when I contacted Craig about it? Who knows, who cares. Just know that for all the great reviews, I'm sure there are more people like me who paid a lot of money for something so disappointing.

A couple of years ago I decided to make peace with the paintbox. I put a new and lovely palette of paints in it, and we've been getting along ok.  It just a shame that such a neat design is spoiled by the poor quality.


  1. Did you contact Craig about the shoddy workmanship? I would have sent it back and said fix it or make me another that is up to your and my standards. Those boxes are very pricey and that carelessness is inexcusable for such a pricey and custom made item.

  2. I did. I was pretty shocked, and didn't say much to him, except that I wasn't happy with the quality. He replied that it was a handmade item and he had many happy customers. I replied only to cancel the order for the second (my own) paintbox. I figured if he couldn't even acknowledge the issue was enough to start a dialogue, it wasn't worth pursuing. The quality is much worse when you're holding it in your own hands, it's actually embarrassing. It still amazes me.