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Vegan friendly art supplies

Vegan friendly art supplies

Greener choices, Vegan, Vegetarian and Environmentally Friendly Art supplies.

Not that long ago companies did not have traceability in their own supply chains, and they were not proactive about sustainability, thankfully that is changing!

Many companies are now contributing to a healthier planet and developing eco friendly and animal cruelty free strategies to develop their products. More and more eco- friendly 'Green' companies in today's market display logos to enlighten their customers with recognisable logos such the Certified Vegan hearts, FSC Tree, (Forest Stewardship Council), Leaping Bunny logo, Fair Trade, and the Sunflower Vegan Trademark are just a few internationally used and recognisable logos, making shopping for the supplies we need a little bit easier.

However with artists' equipment and materials, it is not as clearly marked out, and many artists are conscientiously looking for vegan, cruelty free and environmentally friendly, sustainably sourced art and design products.

Any product tested on animals, cannot be classed as cruelty free!

Sometimes we unwittingly use art and design equipment, materials and mediums not knowing they contain animal derivatives such as animal hair or charred animal bones or not knowing they have been involved in animal testing!

Hopefully this article will help you to source manufacturers and products that will allow your creative endeavours to blossom, whilst knowing you are using vegan equipment, materials or mediums that do not contain any animal parts, or any animal ingredient, and have not been tested on animals!

Vegan Friendly logos

Logos that will help you identify environmentally friendly, sustainably sourced materials, vegan and cruelty free products.

Ingredients in products that are animal derived, demystifying some of the commonly used terms in art and design.

Vegan Artists using any pigment based paint will not only have to check that the pigment such as ivory black contains no animal derivatives but that the binder doesn't either!

For example, watercolour paints can contain honey in their binder. Also, ox-gall is used in some watercolour wetting mediums as a dispersant to generally improve the flow of your paint, so vegan artists will have to double check all ingredients listed before embarking on purchasing.

Some paints can be hard to distinguish as they're divided into professional quality, artists quality, paint that contain mostly naturally occurring pigments and so called inexpensive student quality, graduate using both natural, inorganic and synthetic materials. Certain paints retain their traditional age-old formulas and can contain some animal products:

  • Rabbit skin Glue is a glue made from the prolonged boiling of animal products, such as skin, bones, connective tissue, it is used in the sizing of canvases.
  • Shellac a resin like secretion from the female lac insect, used to give a glossy finish and as a binder in inks, such as Winsor & Newton drawing inks.
  • Cochineal comes from various types of lac, scale insects; its secretions are used to make a strong carmine dye. This can appear in paints, ink and even food colouring.
  • Bone black (Pbk9) made from the charring of bones to produce very dense black.
  • Ox gall a watercolour medium based on the animal protein from gall bladders of cattle, and acts as a paint flow improver.
  • Tempera paints use an egg to bind the pigments together, this paint has fantastic longevity and pre-dates oil painting.
  • Honey for many uses as a preservative, to increase colour vibrancy and smoothness. All formulations of Sennelier watercolour contain honey.
  • 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.

Rabbit Skin Glue

Rabbit-skin glue, pellets (left) and partially dissolved in water (right)

    Cruelty Free, vegan art supplies, not tested on animals! - What the manufacturers have to say:

    [Some of the statements below are from leading art manufacturers, always contact the manufacturer if in doubt about any product you wish to use!]

    Faber-Castell brand, art supplies state;

    Environmental responsibility

    We have always placed a high value on environmental sustainability (the “E” in ESG). Faber-Castell is active in this field with numerous projects and initiatives, ranging from sustainable forestry and renewable energy to resource conservation.


    State also that they have not initiated any animal testing on products or materials for 22 years, and do not use casein glue in packaging.

    Liquitex brand, art supplies state;

    "Whilst we can confirm that chemically the majority of Liquitex raw materials do not contain any animal derivatives, we cannot confirm that the raw materials we purchase for the manufacturing process do not come in contact with animal derivatives, due to the fact that we do not have full visibility of their supply chain. And whilst we do not test on animals, Liquitex products are not certified as vegan at this time. We are currently in the process of gathering data on the supply chain of all our formulations in order to be able to address this. (More info here)

    Winsor and Newton brand, art supplies state;

    Winsor & Newton Logo

    None of their products are tested on animals, but some of their products contain animal derived ingredients. (More info here)

    Please note: Cotman Watercolours are all Vegan apart from the following colours: Ivory Black, Raw Umber & Viridian.

    Daler-Rowney brand of art supplies state;

    None of their products are tested on animals.

    The following Daler Rowney paints do not contain animal products or by-products: 

    Daler-Rowney does not use animal-derived ingredients in most colours and mediums it produces. The only exceptions to this are the pigment Bone Black (PBk9), Ox-Gall solution and Kandahar ink (Shellac).

    Golden brand, art supplies state;

    "No, we don't test our products on animals. However many of the raw materials we use have been tested on animals. This is because regulations require that the potential toxicity of chemical substances be determined in order to help safeguard consumers and the environment. The good news is that Europe is leading the world in requiring that companies make such data available to everyone in order to prevent the need for duplicate testing. Because we operate in the global marketplace, our supply chain is positively impacted by this change and we support this philosophy as compared to historical practices."

    Do GOLDEN products contain animal ingredients?

    Generally not. However, Bone Black pigment IS made from carbonised cattle bones. The following products contain Bone Black pigment:

    Bone Black, Jenkins Green, Neutral Grey 2, Neutral Grey 3, Neutral Grey 4, Neutral Grey 5, Neutral Grey 6, Neutral Grey 7, Neutral Grey 8, Prussian Blue Hue, Terre Verte Hue, FLUID Bone Black, FLUID Jenkins Green, FLUID Prussian Blue Hue, MATTE FLUID Jenkins Green, MATTE Bone Black, MATTE Jenkins Green, HLA Bone Black, OPEN Bone Black, OPEN Jenkins Green. (More info here)

    Here's a few vegan friendly art products.

    Vegan charcoal and coloured blocks;

    Vegan mediums, sealer and gesso;

    Vegan papers and environmentally friendly substrates!

    Watercolour paper is often sized; which means it is coated in a gelatine based glue to make the sheets less porous, and more workable for example Saunders Waterford paper. Good quality watercolour paper that is not sized is very hard to find. Instead you could use eco - friendly sketch pads and sketchbooks, such as a highly sustainable bamboo pad and a 100% recycled drawing pad, or heavyweight cartridge paper.

    Vegan Friendly Pads

    Vegan artists brushes

      If you want to move away from these try instead to look for synthetic bristles, they tend to be nylon or polyester and have improved in quality over the years. They are very durable and will work with all paint types. All (except the Poundland special) should be labelled accordingly. Synthetic brush filaments can have a very similar appearance to natural bristles; some are dyed and baked to make them softer and more absorbent. This is known as Taklon.

      Vegan Brushes

      Sablene is a fully synthetic, vegan version of Sable, fashioned from brand new synthetic filaments which mimic many of the properties that nature created. Pro Arte have taken a variety of these new filaments and blended them into brushes that now emulate both the look and the feel of sable like never before. For Sable lovers this is a breakthrough, for synthetic lovers these go to a new level and for animal lovers and vegans this is paradise!

      Brushes that are not Vegan and are sourced from natural animal hair include;

      • Sable
      • Kolinsky
      • Squirrel
      • Badger
      • Camel Hair
      • Goat
      • Hog


      Vegan Pastels and Pencils

      Some pencils contain beeswax or casein glue (an adhesive binder based on animal proteins). Vegan pencils include Faber Castell Polychromos, these artist quality colour pencils are comprised mostly of plant based vegetable oil and high quality pigments. They're extremely popular with professionals and adult colouring book enthusiasts alike for their smooth colour and light-fastness.

      Derwent also offer great ranges in pencils that are suitable for vegans and vegetarians:

      Vegan Pencils

      Considered Vegan, acrylic, oil, inks and watercolour paints:

      Considered Vegan glues

      • All UHU products guarantee; "We Care is Bolton Groups sustainability plan which we have adopted as Bolton Adhesives. It is based on three pillars: SOURCING, for the sustainable procurement and use of natural resources and raw materials. PRODUCING, for the sustainability of our products and our plants. PEOPLE, for the well-being of our people and support of the community." (More info here)  

      ARTdiscount Vegan Art Supplies Full Range

      See our entire collection of vegan art supplies here

      Ellie Jakeman
      Ellie Jakeman

      I have had a strong interest in the visual and creative arts since a very early age. After completing an Art and Design Degree and Post graduate studies I have taught Art and Design, Fashion and Textiles, Textile design , Fine Art print and Illustration for over 20 years. Before teaching I was a freelance artist and illustrator and decided 4 years ago I would return to freelance and commissioned work. I have created many domestic and commercial murals for hospitals and hospices. I work part time for ARTdiscount as a content creator and product tester.

      8 Responses


      January 05, 2022

      Why are the Cotman Watercolors listed twice under Daler Rowney? It’s a series by Winsor & Newton as far as I see on the brands’ websites. I can’t find any vegan watercolours by Daler Rowney (or maybe I am just confused after 2h research :D ) Thanks for your work! Best from Switzerland

      Elisabeth Noguera
      Elisabeth Noguera

      November 11, 2021

      I’m so happy I’ve found this list! I would lie to mention that Daniel Smith is also a great vegan-friendly brand, they even have black alternatives that don’t contain pbk9! They do not test on animals either and their paints are of amazing quality. I hope it helps :) Thanks again!


      July 05, 2021

      This is so helpful and I’m really pleased to have found this article and website, As mentioned in a previous comment being able to filter all vegan suitable products would save a lot of time. Will be shopping here in future.

      Susan Buckley
      Susan Buckley

      June 08, 2021

      This is really helpful and time-saving. Thank you.
      A push on manufacturers producing vegan canvases would be a great next step and a positive addition to Art Discount’s caring range of ethical products. Keep up the good work !


      June 08, 2021

      This is great and thanks for highlighting the need for such products. I think it would be really helpful to have a section (page) on your website with all the vegan items listed so we vegans would not have go through all the products to see if they are vegan.


      June 08, 2021

      I am very grateful to Art Discount for sending me an e mail with a link to your much needed blog. Thank you for your research. We need to live in a cruelty free world and you show it is perfectly possible to do so.


      February 13, 2019

      Thanks so much for caring about, and listing vegan products. For the few years I’ve been painting it’s been quite a lonely quest trying to source cruelty-free brushes and non-animal resources but especially over the last year, as people become more aware, it’s getting easier, and this is a really helpful list.

      carmen easterby
      carmen easterby

      February 13, 2019

      Very informative – thanks for showing cruelty free alternatives! keep creating!

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