Friday, August 28, 2015Partly Cloudy 13°C
Design Stores

Aboveground Art Supplies

Posted by Tim / Posted on September 11, 2008

Aboveground Art SuppliesAboveground Art Supplies just might be the largest art supply store in Toronto. Located steps from OCAD, the store is stocked full of paint, brushes, canvases, paper and other art supplies over two floors in a building that dates back to 1887.

Aside from its prime location (well, if you're an OCAD student), Aboveground wins points for its great selection and decent prices - made even cheaper with a student ID. While it may sell many of the same paper, canvas and other supplies that can be found elsewhere, where it really shines is with the other random harder-to-find-stuff like, say, Artograph projectors and tracers. It also has, in my humble opinion, the widest selection of paints and paint brushes in the city.

Carla Watterworth, the store's Advertising and Education Manager, recently filled me in on some other need-to-know details.

When was the store founded? What has changed about the store over the years?

Aboveground opened in 1983 in a 300 sq.ft. space in the Village By The Grange. We moved to our current location at 74 McCaul Street 10 years ago. With that move, we gained more than 8000 sq.ft. of space to fill with art supplies!

Aboveground Art

What would you say is different or unique about Aboveground compared to some of the other art supply stores in Toronto?

We have an incredible range of products, we have amazing staff with an exceptional knowledge of art & art materials, and our prices are awesome!

What are some of the most popular products you sell?

Some of our most popular products include paints, drawing supplies, canvas, paper & brushes. We also have customers who come in looking for unique items, gifts or just something to get them inspired!

How do you feel Aboveground competes on price compared to most other art supply stores?

We are very competitive and offer our customers the best price we can! We also offer a full range of products from student to artist quality so the customer is sure to find the most affordable option.

Are there any items you carry that are unique to Aboveground?

We have a very unique Sculpture section with tons of supplies to choose from. Our paper & sketchpad section is also large and includes some very beautiful products. We also have our own housebrand line of brushes and sketchpads which are excellent quality and extremely popular!

Aboveground Art Supply

How did the store come to be located next to OCAD. Would you say the overwhelming majority of your customers are OCAD students?

We've always been located in the neighborhood and have had a focus on supplying the OCAD students with what they need. The original location was quickly becoming too small and luckily the house at 74 McCaul Street was available. We did a complete restoration from top to bottom and made this the new home of Aboveground Art Supplies.

You might win the award for the most colourful exterior of any art supply store in the city? How did that paint job come about?

When OCAD finished their major expansion, we were approached by the Dean of Design and some other OCAD representatives to see if we would be willing to come up with a plan to change the colours of the store to blend in with the new look of the school.

Aboveground Toronto

Aboveground OCAD

Aboveground Art Supplies Toronto

Aboveground Art Supplies McCaul

Aboveground Paint

Aboveground Art Store

Aboveground Art Supply Store

Aboveground Art Supplies Outside



Steve J / May 31, 2009 at 12:38 pm
One other item worth mentioning is the unique feature of being a daily 'winner' of your purchase. What happens is, they have a single star stamped on the back of their cash receipt roll and if you're purchase receipt happens to have that star on the back then your full purchase is on the house - FREE! I had the good fortune, upon my first visit, to be that day's winner and walk out the store not paying a cent! How cool is that? And overall, their selection and prices were very good too so I'll definitely be going back.
E. Mark / July 16, 2009 at 04:38 pm
I'm going to check all my old receipts and look for that star.
CelphTitled / November 8, 2009 at 08:16 pm
Recommended. Steps close to OCAD. Plentiful of supplies ready for students, artists and designers alike; quality products available and irresistible discounts on students, especially during special events. Otherwise, their regular price marked on their products are mix of love and hate.
The best thing about the store is the daily "winner" star on the receipt.
Joe Shmoe / January 1, 2010 at 12:51 am
This store has an excellent selection of artists' materials that are harder to find elsewhere in T.O., like Crescent illustration boards and Turner AcrylGouache and Design Gouache--at reasonable prices, too.
margie / January 30, 2011 at 01:47 am
frig. these pricks really got my goat! i walk in with a smile, i leave with a frown. I just about had a panic attack when i witnessed how many staff members had sticks shoved up their butts. If you're anything like me, then you'll wanna bring a suicidal device alongside your shopping experience.
marjorie / April 6, 2011 at 04:25 pm
Decent store. I prefer Curry's though.
Jay Me / April 28, 2011 at 06:50 pm
Great shop! Cool old house packed with tons of stuff! Prices are reasonable.
Mary Kiff / May 11, 2011 at 10:25 am
I 100% love this store! I’ve been shopping here for many years and every time I venture to Aboveground I find something new and fun! The staff are friendly and helpful and it’s always a pleasure to shop here.
y / April 21, 2012 at 07:09 pm
Good art store, not very animation friendly though
Brenda / May 6, 2012 at 04:21 pm
My mother grew up in that house, that is the only reason I would go there.
Tai / May 16, 2012 at 01:00 am
Great selection but staff is aweful. They couldn't care less about customer service.
Tai / May 16, 2012 at 01:02 am
Above Grounder / May 28, 2012 at 03:26 pm
Hey there Tai! We noticed your comment here and just wanted to let you know we really regret that you had such a bad experience shopping with us. Customer service is very important to us, and we'd love to know more about how we could have helped you better and about what went wrong there. If you'd like to email us at, we'd really like to hear from you to get a better sense of how we can improve and see if we can make it right. Thanks Tai.
Marth Tolkien / December 11, 2012 at 08:53 pm
This may seem like a strange question, but do you have any paints that work on concrete ready mix gta? I have been wanting to stain my concrete, but it is pretty expensive, and I decided that I would like to paint it anyway. That makes it more personal, I think.
BenjiS / October 2, 2013 at 10:17 am
Customer service at the downtown location has really cleaned up over the past two years or so (with an exception or two). That being said, I was in this past Sunday, and neither staff member I saw said hello, and the cashier mumbled her way through my transaction without asking if I was in their customer database. Tsk tsk, I know it's Sunday, but if you don't want to be at work, find another freakin' job.
yantoe huhu / October 4, 2013 at 10:36 am
Can I be sent a catalog of markers to create a caricature?
yantoe huhu / October 4, 2013 at 10:42 am
what the price of the table to draw caricatures?
bob ross / September 12, 2014 at 08:14 pm
Their staff is very hit or miss, there's 2 guys who've helped me a number of times but everyone else just ignores you. I've made 2 special orders and have never received the items or information. Maybe during the hiring process they should focus on people with service over those who they fear have lives outside aboveground.

Add a Comment


Find a Design Store

Or use the options below to assist you in locating a Design Store in Toronto.

Search Results

Please select criteria from the dropdown menus above to start your search.


Recent Reviews

Refine the list using the categories below:

Other Cities: Montreal