Are you one of those people?
You know what I’m talking about . . .
Do you want to know where your apples are grown? Are you concerned whether your chocolate is Fairtrade or not? The new dress you want, is it fast fashion, designed for one season and then destined for landfill?
Yep, that’s me, and if it’s you as well, then the following information could help you make a decision on your next art purchase.
First of all, why should you care if your artwork is sustainable?
It’s art! How much of a negative impact can it actually have?
All art is product based. It might be creative but it still boils down to a manufacturing process. As such, you need to look at it as you would any other manufacturer and assess the relevant components – transport, waste, supply chain, energy usage, recycling etc. For example, is the artist using spray cans, solvents or resins? How do they clean up after using these products and dispose of waste that isn’t biodegradable?
Don’t worry, I tell you how to easily access this information further down the page.
Secondly, what is a sustainable art practice?
A sustainable art practice has minimal negative impact, or potentially has a positive effect, on the environment. In general, it should:
1. incorporate principles of sustainability into decisions and actions,
2. create environmentally friendly art, replacing demand for non-green alternatives,
3. be greener than the competition, and
4. make a true commitment to environmental principles in art creation.
The Brundtland Report, which looks at sustainable development in detail, emphasises that sustainability has three pillars – people, planet and profit. Sustainable businesses try to balance all three through the triple-bottom-line concept for the environment, business growth and society.
Finally, how do you find out whether the piece of art you’re coveting was made with sustainable practices?
Ask. Visit their website. Goggle the process and the products.
All artists should know what goes into their art and the processes they use, so ask them. Also, just by asking you could prompt them to reassess how they are creating their art and honing their skills. You might inspire them to question their suppliers and their processes, if they haven’t already. These questions may prompt a change for the better further along the supply chain.
I’ve found suppliers, when asked for more information, have been happy to help and even follow the production line until they have an answer for me. If they weren’t helpful or were defensive, that would prompt me to keep pushing for an answer or to find a supplier that is willing to help.
I’m not perfect and I don’t expect every business to have achieved the highest level of sustainability possible at this time. I know there are areas of my art practice that can be more sustainable, but I have to be ok with my process for now. Have a look here for the areas I want to improve next.
As mentioned above, sustainability is a blend of people, planet and profit. Being an emerging artist, I’m still exploring and discovering, and I’m balancing the individual, the environment and the finances!
Businesses, especially small businesses, have limited resources and can’t implement all sustainable processes at once. It’s about finding the starting point; making the changes you can now and continuing to work towards the next opportunity for improvement.
If you are interested in this topic, have a look at this article that explores why mass produced art has a negative environmental impact and why you can benefit from slow art.
Here’s to a greener future!
“Quietude” Click photo to see painting details