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Sustainable Art: A Guide To Get You Started!

The artworld is big. For centuries it has been part of human culture. Did you know that art dates back at least 40,000 thousand years from when Homo Sapiens made art on cave walls. Since then, art has developed massively, to say the least, and now it plays a big part in our society.

However, it’s unfair that our creativity is now causing damage to the environment. Even if it is small. So how can we continue making art but without the impact it has on the planet? That’s where sustainable art comes in.

At first, making art sustainable may seem insignificant as you might think that the impact it has is small compared to others things in the world. However, it’s crucial that we try our best to make every part of our lives and every part of society as sustainable as possible. And that includes art.

So here’s a guide to get you started.

Why Is Art Important?

Art is more than just making things look pretty. It’s a way in which people communicate. I like to think art is about expression and emotion. It aims to make the viewer feel something deeper than words. Artists often find it easier to express themselves and express how they see the world in an art form.

Art can also inspire others and is capable of changing people for the better. It can unite us. Furthermore, everyone, from every country and every age is able to enjoy and be impacted by art because there’s no language barrier. We don’t have to speak the same language in order to appreciate a piece of art. Because art is all about emotion. Art can tell powerful stories and make us feel things. Something words can’t achieve to the same degree.

But besides all that, art makes our lives more interesting too. Imagine a world without art expression. Our history would be a lot different. It has shaped who we are today.

In addition, art has allowed us to learn more about our ancestors. Paintings and other pieces of art that were made centuries ago have been discovered and because of this, we are able to understand our history better and piece together historical events.

As you can see, the importance of art in our culture cannot be denied.

However, now we also need to think about the impact it has on the environment. Now that we know its impact, we need to change our habits.

Sustainability And Art

Sustainable art is not something new and revolutionary. There have been many cultures that have used sustainability in their art forms for centuries.

But it’s something that has been lost in the modern world. Most of us have forgotten about sustainability when we are making art. We are using materials and processes that are damaging the environment more than ever. Large or small, every impact matters.

So now you might be wondering how you as an artist can become more eco-friendly with your craft. I’m here to help you get started. Remember, it will be a journey. Not an overnight transition.

sustainable art eco-friendly artist infographic

How To Make Art Eco -friendly?

There are two main types of art. Physical and digital. Here are some things to consider with both of these because both have an impact on the environment.

Sustainable Art Supplies

First, let’s start with non-digital art. This includes a very wide variety of art including painting (acrylic, water paint, oil), fine art, pottery, ceramics, and much more. There is an endless type of artforms, each unique in its own way. But to make art, we also need resources that come from the environment. And these are not infinite. This is why we have to try hard to make art eco-friendly too.

Before we start going through sustainable art supplies, I want to warn you about greenwashing. There might be some art brands out there that their products are to be organic, vegan, no irritant, etc but they are only telling you half the story. In many cases, this doesn’t mean it is eco-friendly. So be aware! Ensure what you are buying actually has a low impact. Always do your research beforehand.

Paint

Paint is not the most eco-friendly material. It usually contains toxic substances and cannot be recycled. But luckily, there are now options to buy more eco-friendly alternatives (examples below). Just make sure to read the label and read up on the brand before you buy to ensure the product you are buying are truly eco-friendly. Eco-friendly paint is made using natural substances making it safe to use and dispose of. Check out Natural Earth Paint for eco art supplies.

Or you can take it a step further and make your own paint at home. There are many resources online that can help you create your very own eco watercolour, acrylic… paint alternatives.

Paper

Another thing to think about with sustainable art is the paper you use. Make it your goal to only use recycled paper. All artists need paper. Either, for the final piece or for coming up with ideas. You can look for recycled paper in stores or online. This is really important especially for those who draw or paint.

Buying recycled paper instead of fresh paper reduces your carbon footprint and doesn’t further contribute to deforestation.

Check out these websites for recycled paper:

Digital Art

Of course, now there’s a whole new type of art that has been able to evolve due to technology. While it doesn’t use as many supplies, there are still some things to consider if you want to make your work truly sustainable. The biggest impact like with most technological things, the impact they have is ‘invisible because we don’t directly see the impact. We never see the electricity we use, we never see where it comes from and we never see the emissions they cause.

If you create digital illustrations, and you want your illustrations printed on sustainable paper, you can have a look at some companies which print on sustainable paper. If you need help with finding some places, I have put together a list for you here: 4 Eco-Friendly Printing Providers For Your Prints

More Things To Keep In Mind

When creating sustainable art, the impact goes beyond the artwork itself. There are other parts of the process. Every part of the process has an impact and everyone matters.

The Packaging

If you sell art for a living, then you also need to think about your packaging. The best solution is buying packaging made from recycled material that can be recycled or composted at the end of its lifecycle. It’s encouraging to see that there are more and more companies selling eco-friendly packaging.

If you are ready to start using sustainable packaging read this article as you might find some suitable companies to buy from: Why & How To Choose Sustainable Packaging For Your Brand.

Upcycling

This is using waste and discarded materials to create something new and amazing. There are some amazing examples of artists who are using upcycling techniques to create stunning pieces of art and sculptures.

What may seem like rubbish to someone, might actually be an opportunity for someone else. These types of artists tend to be really creative. It just shows that we can have an impact and express ourselves without harming the environment. We are only limited by our imagination.

Make Your Supplies Last

Taking care of your supplies is important because if you make them last longer, you will be using fewer resources. And that is always the aim. To reduce how much from nature we consume.

Looking after your paints like acrylic and brushes for example so they don’t dry out is important for painters. Whatever your discipline, look after your materials and your station. Buy good quality and keep them for as long as possible.

Reduce Waste

Being an artist is often chaotic. Especially at the beginning of the creative process, when you are brainstorming ideas. It’s easy to waste a lot of paper and resources in order to come up with the final design or idea. While in most cases, this is inevitable, you can reduce the amount of paper, paint, materials, etc you use by being more mindful and using materials again if possible.

Try to plan ahead and don’t buy too many materials at once so they don’t go to waste. Only buy what you’ll need.

Proper disposal is also crucial so that you don’t contaminate the surrounding environment which could affect wildlife. Since some art supplies can be toxic, you need to make sure to read the instruction because contamination of toxic materials of any kind will have future repercussions.

Finally, always recycle any cardboard or paper when possible. Remember the motto. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Communicating Sustainability Through Art

When you start following sustainable practices when creating your artworks, it also projects a message onto the world. When your friends, clients, or followers see that you are making art in a sustainable way, you are raising social awareness. You are showing to everyone it’s possible to be an eco-friendly artist and you will probably inspire others to follow in your footsteps.

Being an eco-friendly artist is possible. You just need to adapt.

People also talk directly about such issues as the environment, climate change, etc through their art. Or artivism as many people call it. Many artists, like myself, are choosing to use art and design as a medium to communicate important issues to raise awareness and inspire people to help the world.

Conclusion

While art is a big part of our society and a very important part, it’s equally important we ensure that it is not causing harm to the planet

Besides, artists are some of the most creative people. I’m sure we can come up with creative solutions to this problem and put us back on the path to a sustainable future. Artists too, have a responsibility that what they make has a positive impact on people and the planet alike.

So are you ready to become an eco-friendly artist? Get started slowly, slowly and with time it will become easier. As I said, it’s just about adapting to something new.

If you have any questions, leave them below in the comments.

About Sofia Hadjiosif

I've always cared about the planet but never knew how I could use my skills to create an impact. But that's when I decided to start Terra Movement. To get other creatives involved in the climate movement and inspire more people to help the planet and its people.

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