My Favorite Art Stores by Rayna Lo

My Favorite Art Stores in Boston, MA

What an eerie and unprecedented time. Hope everyone is staying safe and staying home. Since we’re all under quarantine, I’ve been thinking about all the places I want to go back to once society is healthy again. Can’t wait to support my favorite stores once we’re able to go out!

I’ve been living in Boston & Greater Boston for 5+ years now and am always finding hidden gems in this small town. Just when I thought I’ve seen it all, I always find something new. I was also told that the arts don’t thrive as well here compared to other major cities but I am beginning to think otherwise. Here are some of my favorite finds for art supplies and unique inspiration. If you’re visiting Boston and you love the arts, I hope you get to visit these places! Please be sure to check out a future post for my favorite museums!
 
 

The Paper Mouse | West Newton
1274 Washington St, West Newton, MA 02465
thepapermouse.com

The second you walk in, you just know you won’t leave empty handed. You’re in the best place if you’re looking for a gift to give family and friends too. This small local hidden gem is one of my all-time favorites. I love coming in as I always find something new. The selection of goodies from calligraphy inks to washi tape to stationery is one of the best in Greater Boston. Everything is so cute! It’s pure magic in here. Also, be sure to check out their unique workshops. I took a Japanese paper marbling class and tea towel class (you learn how to carve your own stamp!). They were so much fun and I learned a lot. I’m so grateful there’s a store like this that’s close to me.

 
 

ICA Store, inside ICA Museum | Boston, Seaport
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA 02210
icastore.org

I LOVE this store and honestly only come here for the museum shop unless there’s an exhibit of interest. It’s a small museum despite the physical size. They offer free admission on Thursdays so that’s the night to go. But back to their store. One of my favorite features is their wide selection of art books. And stuff that you didn’t think you needed (I got my compostable Sweetgum Swedish dishcloths here). If you go on Sunday, there’s usually craft tables set up where you can create some art (free activity). Go for the joy-inducing selection of goods and gorgeous views.

 
 

Bodega | Boston, Back Bay
6 Clearway St, Boston, MA 02115
bdgastore.com

Small, hidden, and just a really cool place to see. You won’t spend a lot of time here but it’s fun to enter the store via a vending machine door. I like coming here to see shoes I normally wouldn’t find anywhere else. I get a lot of inspiration going through the graphic tees. If you’re into sneakers, check out Concept that’s nearby on both Boylston St. and Newbury St.

 
 

SOMA OPTICAL | Boston, South End
8 Union Park St, Boston, MA 02118
soma-optical.com

We accidentally stumbled upon this store walking around South End one day and were in for such a treat. The bright open space was beautiful contrast from quintessential brick stone Boston. This place has the coolest selection of never-seen-before eyeglass frames. Ask Alissa and Christos (the most adorable couple) about the story behind each pair of glasses. They know so much about the artist and process behind them. You’re guaranteed to be inspired. I sure was as an artist. And maybe you’ll find a new pair of glasses like I did!

 
 

Pucker Gallery | Boston, Back Bay
240 Newbury St 3rd floor, Boston, MA 02116
puckergallery.com

This gallery is hidden above the CVS on Newbury St. and is so underrated. I’m always the only person there, in addition to the people that work there. I always feel like I’m going to a museum for free when I visit. And I’ve seen some of the work in museums too (e.g., Li Hongwei’s ceramics were also displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago). They always have different exhibits so you’re always in for new art. Just follow the sign-less path to the elevator and head upstairs. You won’t regret it.

 
 

Mundy’s Asia Galleries | Great Barrington, Berkshires
420 Stockbridge Rd, Great Barrington, MA 01230
asiagalleries.com

Okay, this one is a little far from Boston (about 2.5 hours west) but if you’re heading to the Berkshires, add this spot to the list of things to see. I guarantee a jaw-dropping shock to your system as you realize what’s inside. This place is a time machine. You feel like you’ve been transported back in time to a younger Japan. You can really feel the spirit of samurais and artists when you’re here. It was a feeling that was hard for us to wrap our head around. Mountains of history are just right under your nose! The only difference between this place and a museum is that there’s no glass barrier to separate you from the artifacts. Everything is for sale too. I bought an art book in original binding from the Showa era. It’s beautiful and I will treasure it forever. If you’re an avid art lover and love Japan, be prepared to spend some time here. This was our last stop before heading back to Boston and we instantly knew this wasn’t going to be a short pit stop. In fact, we plan on coming back just for this store.

 
 

MIT Press Bookstore | Cambridge, Central Square
301 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
http://mitpressbookstore.mit.edu/

Bookstores in general are places that allow you to expand your mind beyond familiar topics. However, the layout design and the way MIT displays their books really encourages you to dig deeper into things you didn’t know you’d be interested in. This store gets me super excited about topics I didn’t even know existed. I can spend hours here getting lost in their books—which I have. One of my favorite sections is the children’s book aisle. If I had kids, I’d bring them here every day.

 
 

Hobby Lobby | Framingham
1 Worcester Rd, Framingham, MA 01701
hobbylobby.com

I had to add this store to the list because it reminds me of home (I used to go to this place so much growing up back in Chicago). I was so excited when I found out Hobby Lobby was finally here! I just love the prices—and this is so critical for artists! They don’t have as big of a selection as Blick but their deals are seriously amazing. Like buy one get one free on paper pads. I also love their selection of scrapbook paper. I spend a lot of time in this aisle for print inspiration. World Market is next-door and it’s always a go-to after Hobby Lobby.

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