By Artists For Artists

Putting ‘ART’ in eARTh: Sustainable Tools and Conscious Art-Making

The environment has forever been fawned over in art. We are continually bewitched by interpretations of the natural world from pioneers such as Monet, Turner, Michelangelo, and Van Gogh. Our natural environment has been a constant source of beauty, mystique, folklore, and inspiration, providing a range of allegory from the austere, dark, and foreboding to the optimistic, bright, and joyful. Many people consider nature itself a work of art; so what can we do to protect it, and ensure that our artistic practices are not detrimental to such a precious resource?

“A Big Love” by Lauren Mycroft


Choose Sustainable Art Tools

Many art supplies use animal products and deplete nature’s resources by using unsustainable materials. Here are some things to bear in mind when purchasing art supplies. 


Paintbrush bristles are often made with hog hair or other animal furs. The animal agricultural industry is one of the key contributors to climate collapse. For a green alternative, consider vegan brands and synthetic bristles that perform just as well.


Check your paint for these animal-derived ingredients: shellac, ox gall, tempera, bone black, cochineal, gelatin, casein, rabbit skin, and beeswax. Avoid paint with these components, and choose brands that offer vegan alternatives, such as Amsterdam acrylics, Cobra, and Inktense. 


Consider purchasing recycled paper that will decrease demand for deforestation and wood processing. Brands such as Jacksons, Artway, and Hahnemuhle offer recycled papers, sketchbooks, and bamboo paper alternatives.


transparent botanical painting

“Winter Spring” by Marina Dunbar


Be Savvy with Your Usage

As artists, we can spend hours doodling our concepts and ideas in sketchbooks and on pieces of paper, which equates to a great deal of paper waste. Start recycling paper, and if you want to reduce your arty footprint even further, consider investing in a whiteboard and marker to doodle down concepts, or invest in a digital art tablet to sketch concepts on a drawing software that you can rework an unlimited amount of times. If working on paper is a preferable method for you, consider drawing on both sides of your sheet, saving the good paper for later.


“Metropolitan” by Julien Missaire


Up-cycle Materials 

When it comes to 3D art and sculpture, up-cycling supplies such as driftwood, metal, and natural materials is a perfect eco-conscious way of bringing the beauty of nature and the aesthetic of industry into a thought-provoking and stunning visual. Many artists introduce recycling into their work, reducing waste and creating something wonderfully unique. One person’s trash is another person’s masterpiece. 


Illustration for “We Do Democracy” by Clara Selina Bach


Inspire Others with Your Art

Art is the perfect tool for inspiring thoughts, feelings, and actions. The Black Lives Matter movement gained a superb momentum as a result of the thought-provoking artworks that came in response to the injustice on social media and on the streets. Start exploring new themes and topics, don’t be afraid to get political and draw attention to the very real issues in the world. Art is a fantastic political and emotional tool, so use it to your advantage! 

Article written by Kate Smith

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