Art Students: Set the Right Tone by Using These Vegan Art Supplies
As an art student, you have a unique perspective on life and can reflect the world’s beauty in your own gorgeous pieces of work. But any masterpiece you make will be hideously stained if you use supplies made from dead animals. 😨
Did you know some art supplies are made using badger hair, cow bladders, or rabbit skin? Tons of affordable, high-quality animal-free options are available now—almost any art supply store should be able to meet your needs. To keep your art truly beautiful, make sure your supplies are cruelty-free by following this guide:
🎨 Pigments, Dyes, and Inks
Even though art supply companies can easily make rich, vivid colors using plants, some still use animal-derived ingredients. For example, oil pastels are made from animal fat and wax. Instead, choose soft pastels—they tend to be cruelty-free, but always check individual products to make sure. And don’t support any art companies that believe in robbing animals of what’s rightfully theirs.
Avoid cochineal, a red dye made from cochineal insects, as well as India and Chinese inks, both of which are made from insect secretions. Sepia ink is made from the ink sacs of squid and cuttlefish, and water-resistant inks usually contain animal-derived ingredients. Use walnut ink instead, or buy from Pilot or STAEDTLER, which offer many vegan products.
Paintbrushes marketed as using “natural” hair for their bristles are anything but cruelty-free. People trap and farm squirrels, ferrets, mongooses, and other small animals just to rip out their fur for these “natural” brushes. They may also exploit horses, pigs, and oxen to make them.
In 2022, PETA exposed Chinese badger-hair farms, where eyewitnesses saw workers beating crying badgers over the head before slitting their throats. 😡 Urge companies like Dick Blick Art Materials to drop badger-hair brushes immediately, and always choose synthetic brushes for your art projects.
🎨 Paints, Canvases, and Paper
Some watercolor paints contain ox gall, which is made from cows’ gallbladders. Help end this disgusting exploitation by shopping for vibrant vegan options from top brands like Da Vinci Paint Co.
Also, avoid watercolor paper sized with gelatin—which is made by boiling animals’ skin, tendons, ligaments, and other body parts—and canvases sized with glue made from rabbits’ skin. Instead, use construction paper, paper sized with starch, and raw fabrics like hemp, bamboo, linen, and cotton. You can even learn to size your own canvases using cruelty-free products!
🎨 Graphite and Charcoal
Graphite is cruelty-free, but make sure the pencils you use don’t contain beeswax. Thanks to sloppy handling, people kill or tear the legs and wings off many bees when stealing their wax and honey (which is messed up in the first place). Finally, be sure to use charcoal made from vines, willow trees, and other plant materials rather than ivory or animal bones.
A good artist can make do with whatever tools are available. It’s up to all of us who believe that we can express ourselves without harming animals to effect change through our consumer power. Besides buying vegan art supplies, we can contact companies and let them know there’s a huge consumer demand for these products. As more and more customers have called or e-mailed them, companies have started to make positive changes. Be sure to contact art supply brands to double-check vegan status or just to let them know you’re looking for vegan products—and don’t stand for vague answers.
Now that you have your vegan art supplies, it’s time to start creating. 👩🏽🎨 Got an annoying case of artist’s block? Here’s an idea to spark your imagination: Blend your art and your activism talents. Find out how to become an influential artivist and channel your passion into helping animals!