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{mosimage}If you’re an artist in Los Angeles, you’re likely to frequent Graphaids, Blick, Ultrecht, Nova Color and a host of other proper art stores for your proper art supplies. I, however, get a perverse thrill from buying mine on the cheap in Chinatown. I usually head out on the weekend when, hopped up on dim sum and MSG post-pig-out at Empress Pavilion, I meticulously browse the Hello Kitty–branded aisles at Neotype Station. Not only do they have a brilliant selection of fine-point pens (ballpoint, gel and felt-tip) in a bevy of bubblegum hues, but the pens are adorned with images of Hello Kitty and Hello Kitty’s eclectic assortment of friends, Pucca, Chococat, Deery Lou and an inexplicable tray of baked kittens (I can’t figure out if H.K. hangs out with all the baked-kitty treats, or just one or two of them, or if it’s really the tray with which she shares a special bond). They also have mechanical pencils, lead refills, erasers, scissors, X-acto knives, blades — yes! Hello Kitty blades. All for cheap, cheap, cheap. Seriously, you can walk into Neotype Station with five bucks and leave with four new colors and change.

For the painters out there, I recommend strolling downstairs to Happy Land Co., where that same five bucks will buy you a gouache set or a watercolor set or a few jars of Sumi ink. True, the quality may be questionable, but for studies, sketches, and those just looking to practice their craft and get into an arty groove, these are great tools, priced so that even the most cash-strapped out-of-work artist can afford them. Happy Land Co. also sells rice paper, brushes, model paints and an impressive selection of Kung Fu bootlegs, in addition to the usual assortment of Chinatown crap.

Be forewarned: Happy Land Co. doesn’t validate parking for purchases of less than $10, and the Dragon Lady manning the counter is a stickler for the rules, so bring along a couple of friends.

Neotype Station 988 N. Hill St., Ste. 203, Chinatown, (213) 628-8883

Happy Land Co.
988 N. Hill St., Ste. 108, Chinatown, (213) 680-4010

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