5 Creative Graduation Gifts for Design Graduates

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Creative graduation gifts for creative people ✨

Y’all. I know it’s only February, but I’m anticipating what we know is on its way… Every year, as May gets ready to turn the reins over to June, an entire herd of starry eyed graphic designers, illustrators and artists enter the world ready to take on all the fonts, doodles and images we can throw at them. Do you know one of them?

They’re loaded with the most updated industry knowledge, have just practiced solo and group art and marketing projects, and they are ready to take their skills to the streets and start making money. 

But are they really?

You can’t arm them with the experience that comes with underbidding a big project, or landing a dream client.. But as the designer’s bystanding bestie, you can offer up some super sweet and satisfying support to help them get to where they’re going.

Since I do design myself, I’m totally in tune with what helps me feel supported and inspired to spend many hours arranging and rearranging art. In this post I’m offering more of a “friend supporting a friend reaching for the stars” gift vibe than a “here are the latest industry design tools for success” vibe. 

If you are interested in more “tool/resource” based gifts, check out my article, 9 Super Cool Gifts for Graphic Designers in 2023

Ready to dive into some nurturing, creative gifts for graduating artists? I’ll start with a potentially “spendier” category and then list less expensive gifts. Most of these gift budgets are on a spectrum, so you can adjust quantity to work with your budget. 

Let’s get to the gifting. Here are 5 “out of the box” gift ideas for graduates of design and art:

1 – An Artist Retreat

Ahhhh. Every artist wants some time to just.. Art. To wake up when they wake up, laze around in PJs with a slew of art supplies and inspiration, and to create. And one meaningful way to gift them this opportunity is by way of an artist retreat.

This can be as simple as paying for a local weekend staycation, and can be as fancy or bare bones as necessary. Whether you spring for a weeklong oceanside vacation or a weekend camp cabin with a big basket of tasty sustenance, offering the opportunity to focus only on art or rest is a luxury that most hardworking artists dream about.


2 – Massage or stretch session

Again.. I want to bring our focus to what artists really need, and that is care. We don’t always do the best job of self care, so when someone gifts us a massage or a stretch session, our tense necks, shoulders and hands really appreciate it. 

Making art can be a full body experience, hunched over water color pads, holding our shoulders up for hours while painting, or zoning into a big digital project in front of a screen. The art process itself can be taxing on muscles and joints. Massage and stretch can turn that muscular frown upside down. I  swear one of these days I’m going to get a massage just for my hands..

You can give a single session or a series, depending on your budget. Both will be such a treat!


3 – Coffee shop gift card

So simple – so easy to choose your budget! Many artists have a favorite coffee shop or two where they go to gather their thoughts, sketch out their big ideas, pore over inspiration and just decompress. 

Artists who are also business owners often go to coffee shops to “get their computer work done” because they can’t distract themselves like they could at home. Finding out where they love to sip and sketch means you can give them a gift they will for sure appreciate and use.

Do your homework to find out if your artist pal has a favorite small business coffee shop. They often have their own sense of ambience, and it’s always a nice feeling to support your local small business owners.


4 – Art magazines + a cozy blanket

Ahhhh, analog inspiration. Depending on the specific art field your artist just graduated in, there are some really beautiful and incredibly satisfying art and design magazines that are captivating and inspiring – and will probably be kept for years. 

Artists are always looking around, always taking in the world and the inspiration around us. When we are looking for something specific, we can do a quick online search and find millions of results that pop up. And some of us spend a lot of time in this digital space.

The new generation of artists and designers are entering a world that is so digital they literally can’t recognize communication devices (like telephones) from my childhood. And some of them may not yet know the delicious satisfaction that comes from slow flipping the pages of a magazine chock full of inspiration, art, patterns, textures… 

In a world where these physical gems are dwindling (I’m still crying inside about the loss of my beloved PRINT Magazine), there are still a few magazines out there worth getting and hanging onto – they will provide endless coffee sipping couch sessions over the years, I assure you. (as I gaze lovingly at my 2006 PRINT Design Annual which I have pulled out and marveled over at least once per year since getting it nearly 20 years ago.

Trust me – a couple of juicy art magazines will make their whole decade… My most recent favorite binge worthy magazine is Uppercase Magazine – and worth every penny. The pages themselves are utterly satisfying to feel and see..


5 –  The gift of service

What I’m referring to is offering to pay for a service that will really make an artist’s life easier. For a graduating artist, being able to have a cleaning service come tackle their kitchen and bathrooms before they head into the big world can really lighten their mental load if they don’t mind someone else in their space.

After all of the hoopla that just came with graduating, many graduates will be scrambling to find full time work. So they may not prioritize a sparkling clean bathroom or kitchen. But they sure will appreciate the cleanliness that someone else can provide. 

Hiring a landscaper, gardening service, window washing service, laundry service, or food delivery service can give your artist a little peace of mind to keep focusing on their next steps. 

I know these gifts for graduates are a little out of the box – and that’s why they’re called creative graduation gifts, lol. Trust me, these are the kinds of indulgences that most artists don’t pay for themselves. But they sure do deserve it.

I hope this post gave you some ideas for a few meaningful and creative graduation gifts for the new design graduate in your life. Happy gifting!


Other posts you may enjoy:

7 Artist Inspired Gifts for Your Art Inspired Friends and Family

The Beginner’s Guide to Taking a Creative Leap of Faith: Building a Creative Business from Your Passions