Does the quality really matter? Yes and no.
For me, being a (ahem) “professional artist” they are just as important as the skill. People buy what I paint. Therefore I want it to be the highest quality product I can give them. Now if I’m just goofing off doing an acrylic pour, something I don’t intend to sell, I’m not using the $9 an ounce paint.
When you’re just starting out, you’ll want to figure out what brand you like best. Buy one of each brand that you can find, in different colors, and test them out. As you progress, you’ll have your preferences but may find a different color in a different brand works better in certain applications. For example, I prefer Golden Artist colors, but I like Windsor and Newtowns acrylic mixing white.
In the beginning, don’t stress about it. Liquitex Basics are a good, middle of the road paint to learn on.
Airbrush paints are different. We’ll get into some airbrush basics in future posts. If you’re learning to airbrush, nothing is more aggravating than paint that won’t flow. The paint has absolutely everything to do with your success. When I first started airbrushing, I used Createx. It’s what came with the little kit I bought. I tried everything to get this paint to work, and wanted to rip my hair out. That’s when I discovered the Golden brand of paints. Life was a lot more fun after that.
A quick word about canvas. This matters too, sort of. As you get more advanced, you’ll understand the advantages to having a well made canvas. But in the beginning, canvas board you buy in bulk at Michaels will be just find for all the exploring you’re going to do in the future.