Vegan Art Supplies (and Cruelty Free)

Vegan and Cruelty-Free art supplies – where do you start? Shopping online has never been easier, but it is still hard to find clarity on Vegan and Cruelty Free products. We thought we could offer more information on art materials that are vegan and cruelty-free. Old ways of creating art supplies often involved animal products. Artists are demanding more art supplies that don’t contain animal parts and are cruelty-free. Companies have been listening and things are changing.

More importantly, there is a constant need for clarification as to which art materials do not contain animal products.

It’s time for a change.

For those of you who are seeking more clarification on vegan and cruelty-free products, we hope this helps.

Pigments and Binders

The base of all modern paints is mostly synthetic based now, however the issues are the pigments and where they come from. The problem that lots of companies face is producing synthetic colours often cause a lot of harm to the environment. They are trying to find a balance between vegan & cruelty free while also being environmentally friendly.

It is always best to check the ingredients as some trace animal products. Ivory Black is made using burning animal bones.

Casein is an aqueous painting medium, which is made from milk. It is a fast-drying, durable and permanent medium you will find it in a lot of products.

Ox gall is gall, usually obtained from cows. It is mixed with alcohol and used as the wetting agent. You can use them in paper marbling, engraving, lithography, and watercolour painting.

Paints

If you want a full range without having to censor any colour then try Royal Talens. Amsterdam Acrylic Standard Series are not tested on animals. They are vegan which means you can feel safe choosing them. Winsor and Newton Galleria paints also don’t contain animal-extracts. With the exception of Ivory Black and Payne’s Grey which you will also find in System 3 (except for raw sienna).

These may not be artist quality paints but they are lovely and fluid.

It is not impossible to get artist quality paints but again you may have to miss out a few colours. Ivory black appears to be the main culprits again. Cryla and Winsor and Newton professional acrylic.

Be sure to check reds when you buy them, they may contain Carmine (crushed beetles). This has been massively phased out over the last 10 years, but if unsure, it is always best to check.

Inks

Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Inks contain no animal-derived ingredients. The Drawing Ink range contains soluble dyes in a superior shellac solution. Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug. The Drawing Ink range can not be considered vegan/free from animal-derived ingredients.

All the inks with Winsor & Newton’s Calligraphy Ink range have been formulated to ensure maximum brilliance of colour. Single pigments have been used wherever possible to make clean colour mixtures. The formulations of the inks are non-waterproof ensuring they are non-clogging. They have good flow characteristics when used in a fountain or dip pen.

Daler Rowney FW Artists’ Inks do not contain animal products or animal by-products. FW Artists’ Ink is an acrylic-based pigmented water-resistant ink in a range of 38 colours. Colours can be substantially diluted to achieve the most subtle of tones, very similar in character to watercolour. Such washes will dry to a water-resistant film and successive layers of colour can be applied.

Papers

Watercolour papers are treated with sized. They are treated with a substance to reduce the absorbency of the paper. This makes the sheets less porous so your paints don’t bleed through. The paper is coated in a gelatin-based glue. This is extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals. a lot of watercolour paper is not

Strathmore use plant-based and synthetic sizing in the manufacturing of nearly all of their papers. Paper which uses an animal by-product to size the paper. All of their other papers are vegan friendly and only use plant-based and synthetic sizing.

Brushes

Natural hair bristles are used for different types of painting and range from mammals such as; hog for oil painting and squirrel for wash brushes, sable for fine water colouring,  goat and pony hair all for various uses.

If you want to move away from animal hair brushes try instead to look for synthetic bristles. Synthetic brushes have come a long way, they can now imitate natural fibres. They are very durable and will work with all paint types. Synthetic brush filaments can have a very similar appearance to natural bristle.

If I would give you one tip it would be look after your brushes.

Pencils

Yes, even pencils can contain traces of animal extract, it is in the graphite. They contain small amounts of tallow, animal fat extract, while some leads contain beeswax. However, we have a few ranges that fall under vegan art supplies.

Faber-Castell Polychromos and all Albrecht Dürer products contain no animal ingredients. They use inorganic and synthetic materials and materials of plant origin. Faber-Castell have products have been free from any animal testing on products or materials for 22 years. You can read more about this on their website.

Another suggestion for you is Derwent pencils. Made in Britain and again are trying to make all their ranges vegan. If you want to use pencils then Coloursoft and Inktense are all cruelty-free. However, their watercolour pencils and Studio range do contain traces currently.

In summary

Finding lots of vegan art supplies hasn’t been the easiest. Art materials have always contained traces of animal from rabbit skin glues, to the coating of papers, to what the pigments are made of. You can buy binders that don’t contain any animal extract but there are still not many on the market which means hunting around.

This is changing for the better.

Hopefully, Art suppliers will be more transparent in the future.

Products to avoid is casein, carmine and ox gall. What has come to light is lots of Ivory Black, no matter what medium, is hard to replicate. If in doubt use a Mars Black instead.

We have seen a rise in customers asking for more clarity. This will be a blog that evolves as we learn more about the products and see more changes in materials used. We look forward to updating it with the newest vegan & cruelty free products as we find (and fall in love!) with them.

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