7 Life Hacks for Artists

7 Life Hacks for Artists
by Brittney Lueck

Artists may not know it, but they are continually at risk due to the hazardous substances they work with to create their works. Understanding the exposures is critical to create a safe art studio. Here are seven ways they can start now.

The chemicals and processes that artists and craftspeople often use in their home art studios can be the same things that pose significant health risks. For artists involved in painting, sculpting, printmaking, glass blowing, ceramics, photography, and metallurgy, hazardous substances are also the same materials they need to create their work.

So what are the things they can do to make their home art studios safe, mitigate exposure, and reduce risk? Here are a few for starters.

Separate your work area from your living area. Many artists work from home, which creates 24-hour exposure to toxins unless properly mitigated. Make sure that where you do your work is not accessible by other family members and you keep proper boundaries between both spaces.

Substitute safer materials for toxic ones. Instead of oil paint, use acrylics or watercolors. This one choice alone eliminates the need for turpentine and paint thinner. If you are processing photographs, focus on black and whites, not color processing. Overall, water-based materials are far safer than working with materials that are solvent-based, or powders.

Check ventilation. This simple task alone can save lives. Make sure that every area in your work area has adequate ventilation and that you aren’t blocking air vents or windows. Buy a window exhaust fan to help release small amounts of vapors and gases. Get a canopy hood for kilns and a spray booth for spraying.

Wear protective clothing, always. Gloves, goggles, respirators, coveralls — Whatever it takes, make sure your body is covered whenever handling toxic substances. And make sure you wash your work clothes separately from your personal clothes or your family’s clothes.

Check how you’re storing materials. Are your powdered materials stored in airtight jars? Are your liquids stored in tightly capped containers? If not, they should be. Also, make sure that all your large containers are stored on the floor or low shelves to prevent potentially disastrous spills.

Remove carpeting. Your workplace should be a dry floor, period. Carpeting or other fabrics on the floor collect dust and absorb spills, which means you’ll be working in a permanent hazard zone.

Be prepared. A fire extinguisher in your work area is a must. The same is true of a fully stocked first aid kid. You’ll also need emergency phone numbers posted in a well lit place.

Brittney Lueck is a wellness fanatic, young mother nature lover and DaoCloud contributor.