Essential Workplace Safety in the Fine Arts Field
“Workplace safety” might not be the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of fine art and the talent that goes into oil painting reproductions of the great works of the masters, but the fact is that the artists behind these wondrous recreations of the world’s great masterpieces actually face a significant risk of exposure to toxins in the workplace, some of which are known to have damaging, long term results. The toxin danger associated with oil and tempera painting extends beyond the obvious dangers of solvents and thinners. What many people do not realize is that the pigments used in the creation of specific colors can also be highly toxic, especially those derived from metallic sources. Therefore, to protect the health and safety of our valued artists, strict workplace safety standards are maintained, with a particular emphasis on toxicity and the prevention of potentially harmful effects.
Due to the evaporative nature of turpentine and other commonly used solvents in oil painting, adequate ventilation is an absolute necessity for every artist studio environment.
Proper equipment is essential in a professional art studio, for reasons far beyond efficiency and organization, though a well organized and streamlined studio often increases the basic element of overall safety, as well. But because the major danger of most toxins found in oil painting are only hazardous if ingested, little things like brush rests and holders are important elements of workplace safety for artists. Naturally, you wouldn’t expect a seasoned artist to intentionally ingest the chemicals of the trade, but one might hold a paintbrush between their teeth for a moment if there isn’t another, equally convenient place to rest it. Similarly, appropriate areas for clean up should be not only provided, but easily accessible and well maintained, making the task as exposure-free as possible when it comes to the dangers associated with fine art reproductions.
The same is true of safety equipment provided to artists by the studio for which they are employed. Dust masks prevent the inhalation of toxins found in powdered pigment materials. Eye protection provides a similar benefit, especially when working with metal based compounds. Latex-type (but preferably made of a non-latex material) gloves should also be provided. Many artists find them inconvenient, however, and may choose not to wear them, but the option should be available just the same.
Proper storage of paints and chemicals is another important factor in art studio safety, as certain elements have been known to combust in extreme temperatures. This is a rare – but real – scenario which is easily avoided with just a little, basic attention to detail in the workplace.
In the fine art studios of today, there are also a variety of alternatives available to the chemicals and toxic compounds which have been used in oil painting for the past several centuries. However, in some cases, only the original elements will suffice in the creation of the most accurate reproduction of detail; specifically texture and hue. It is the duty of the studio to ensure the best workplace safety conditions for its artists in every scenario, and a duty which Reproduced Fine Art takes very seriously. Aside from the proprietary human element which drives this philosophy, we wholeheartedly recognize that it is, after all, our artist who creates the magic on the canvas.