Jullian Travel Deluxe Table Easel Review
I love doodling and painting on the go, so one of the things I have been itching to get my hands on was a pochade box or a portable sketchbox. Maybe I just didn’t know where to get the good art stuff back in the Philippines, but I looked high and low and I swear it was impossible to find one that was being manufactured or sold locally. I was so close to making my own after inheriting my mom’s long lost antique cigar box, but sadly I never found the time to sit on that DIY project. For this reason, I was really excited when I saw that a wide selection of box easels were being sold in almost every art store in Vancouver. It’s been a busy school year since I landed in Vancouver, but I was finally able to get my hands on the Jullian Travel Deluxe Table Easel this January, 2013.

Gathering information

The Jullian Travel Deluxe Table Easel (listed as Chevalet de Table TRAVEL Deluxe in Jullian’s official website), was one of the top 3 options I had for a sketchbox easel, the others being the Mabef M24 Sketch Box Table Easel and the Craftech Sienna Plein Air Pochade Box. After considering the price tag and availability of the easels mentioned, I decided to go with Jullian’s.

I checked the official website hoping to get more pictures and information on the product, but they only had a product catalog in pdf format with a few low res pictures and a description (The product is listed on page 21, right side) (After digging further, I discovered that the UK site shows more information). I tried Amazon which turned out worse since it only had one tiny picture and no reviews. Luckily it had a link to Dick Blick Art Materials, another online store that had all the information I needed for purchase– description, specifications, pictures, pricing, and reviews. The images seemed to show good craftsmanship, which I’ve read was to be expected of Jullian products. Customers of Dick Blick rated the easel at 4.9/5, so at that point I was positive I wanted to buy it.

Information quoted from the Jullian UK Site:

This beautiful table easel is new from Jullian. Constructed in prime with superb veneered panels. It will hold canvases up to 85cms high (34”). There is a metal lined drawer with adjustable dividers. The hardware is brass plated and there is a stitched real leather handle and luggage tag. There is a strong canvas shoulder strap. The lower support adjusts below the table surface if required. There are slots in the canvas support for painting on board. Closed width 37cm (14.5”) x 42cm long (16.5”) x 11cm high (4.5”)

Purchasing

photo from the Deserres West Broadway store
In order to avoid shipping costs, next thing I did was to look for local distributors in Vancouver, starting with the most popular art stores–Opus Art Supplies, DeSerres, and Michaels. While all three carried a range of easels, only DeSerres carried the product so I headed to their nearest branch at 1431 West Broadway. I found it with ease because it was on display, with a price tag of CAD 119.95. I was fortunate to have checked their website just before dropping by because saw on their website that it went for CAD 74.97. I asked the one of the staff regarding the price discrepancy, and while he said he didn’t know about any sale price, he checked the website and eventually lowered it to the discounted price. The box is pretty big, so if you’re planning on making other stops after buying it and you don’t have a vehicle, then good luck. I carried it for hours across downtown, 2 restaurants, and rush hour packed public transports.

Unboxing

Jullian Table Easel BoxJullian Table Easel unboxing
Let’s start with the bad things–To be honest, I was slightly disappointed by the product when I first saw it in person. Maybe it was because I was too excited due to the photos and reviews, but I expected more. The finish wasn’t as smooth as it had looked on the pictures, and it had some minor imperfections here and there. The wood had a few tiny splinters, not enough to give you a mortal wound, but they were present. The weight was heavier than I expected, and even if that usually equates to quality when it comes to wood, it goes in the way of portability, which, in my opinion, is one of its greater selling points. The bag that comes along with it looks cheap–the handle looks as if it would tear with the weight of the easel over a short amount of time, so it’s probably wise to use the easel’s detachable shoulder strap instead. The bag itself doesn’t have one, but there are holes that allow you to attach and use the the said strap even when using the bag. Speaking of, I also found it to be too short–I stand at only 5’10”, so I wouldn’t say it’s because of my height or build. The easel comes with a name tag holder, but it didn’t have any paper or card in it. Also, because the easel part isn’t really concealed when you fold it back in, it can be quite annoying when carrying the product around because it hits your legs (Of course this can be fixed simply by flipping the box so that the easel part is on the outside).

A closer look at the easel's wood texture
A closer look at the easel's wood texture 02
Jullian Table Easel Bag

Now the good news is, that’s just me nitpicking after placing an unfair expectation on the product. Like most of the people that reviewed it, I love this easel. It had some very minor imperfections as mentioned before, but it’s a real solid piece. It holds canvases and sketchpads firmly, and unlike most table easels where you are at the mercy of the height of the table, both the bottom and top holder of this easel adjustable, allowing you to set it to your preferred height. It should be noted though, that the easel was probably made under the assumption that the artist would use it sitting down–if you prefer to stand while painting/drawing, you might find it a little too low due to the average height of tables. The product also has good craftsmanship–it seems sturdy and doesn’t have any insanely sharp pieces or corners sticking out. The knobs do their job well and keep the easel from sliding back down, even when you put a bit of pressure on it (For all you heavy hands that can’t break the habit). The drawer slides without difficulty, and it also has a metal plate to protect the wood from the paint stains and spills (be careful with the plate and dividers, they can cut you if you’re careless). Lastly, the price isn’t too steep. Art stores carried various brands of the same easel (made from the same blueprint), although none of them came close to the Jullian easel’s quality. After comparing to the alternatives, I forgot all minor nitpicks and doubts I had of the Jullian easel. The other options were priced at just CAD 70-80, but I believe the additional 30-40 for the much superior Jullian is worth it. At DeSerres’ discounted price, it’s a steal.
The knobs and latchesThe drawer with the protective metal plate

Summary and conclusion

All in all, this product does not disappoint–it is very well done and is certainly worth the price tag. Of course, different requirements might lead you to other products that are more suitable for the job, so be sure to think about what you need. If your studio space is limited or you’re always on the go, then you can’t go wrong with the Jullian Travel Deluxe Table Easel.

Pros:

  • Good material quality and craftsmanship
  • Portable
  • Doesn’t eat a lot of space(you can easily set it aside when not in use)
  • The easel height is adjustable
  • Comes with a free bag
  • Price is not bad (discounted price is even better)

Cons:

  • a bit heavy
  • bag looks like it would tear from the weight of the easel
  • Height might not be tall enough if you prefer to stand while painting
Rating
Quality: 9 / 10
Appearance: 10 / 10
Portability: 7.5 / 10
Price: 8.5 / 10
Overall: 8.75*

*That means go get it.

Test driving the easel
Just test driving the easel with an 18in x 24in sketchpad and a pencil.

External Resources and Links

For more information on the Jullian Travel Deluxe Table Easel, visit the following links:

Note:
I am not in any way related to the stores mentioned or the product manufacturer, and therefore cannot be held responsible for any problems purchasing the product or with the product itself. Please contact the stores mentioned for any specific inquiries about pricing, delivery, repairs, refunds, etc. This is not a paid review and I have no contact/relation with them, apart from being a customer myself.