9 of the Best Eco-Friendly Gifts for Artists

And how to wrap them without killing the planet

Photo by Mert Guller on Unsplash

Whether it’s a holiday, birthday, or any other day, it’s not easy to shop for the artist in your life, especially if they care about the environment. With so many different art products on the market, some toxic and some not, it's hard to make the right choice, even as an expert. Lucky for you, I’ve got it all sorted out.

To keep you sane, I’ve made a list of the best sustainable gifts for artists that are guaranteed to give them peace of mind and maximize their creativity.

1. Green Guide for Artists: Nontoxic Recipes, Green Art Ideas, & Resources for the Eco-Conscious Artist

Let’s kick this off by giving that special artist you hold dearly in your heart the power to keep their art practice as clean as a whistle.

In the book Green Guide for Artists, Karen Michel covers DIY green supplies, safe and green workspace practices, using recycled materials in art, and resources for eco-friendly supplies. The ideas in this book might open up new opportunities for your artist to protect the environment in ways they didn’t realize were possible. It covers different angles of the creative process.

To make it an extra green gift you can give them the ebook instead of the paperback. Although after some brief research, it seems nobody is really sure whether ebooks are actually greener or not…hmm. Well at the least the book will inspire greener practices! I’m counting it.

2. The Organic Artist: Make Your Own Paint, Paper, Pigments, and Prints from Nature

Another book option for the activist slash artist in your life is The Organic Artist by Nick Neddo.

Nick’s book promises to get you reconnected to your organic roots and inspire your creativity. Some projects included are “making paper and wild ink, working with soapstone, clay, wood, and rawhide, printmaking and stenciling, natural pigments and dyes, camouflage and body painting, and nature journaling.” Anyone who cares about the planet is primed to love this book about connecting with nature. There’s also a kids version if you’re shopping for a younger, or more feral, artist.

Anyway, don’t forget what I said about ebooks either. It’s true that the ebook itself may or may not be green, but making someone else greener with all this eco-friendly propaganda is just about the greenest thing you can do!

3. Natural Earth Paint: The Complete Eco-friendly Oil Paint Kit

If you’ve ever heard art can be dangerous, it’s probably because of oil paint. Without proper care, you can cause harm to yourself and the environment during use and disposal. Yikes!

Well, you’ll be thrilled to learn there’s a company called Natural Earth Paint that has a line of naturally non-toxic eco-friendly oil paints. They “create the most archival, UV resistant, durable and radiant paints available today.” Natural Earth Paint’s top-quality pigments are sustainably harvested from around the world. You also get to mix the pigments and the oil into paint yourself. Any artist who uses these will definitely feel like an Old Master from the age before climate change.

These eco-friendly oil paints even come in a 100% post-consumer recycled gift box. I’m not sure it gets any greener than that!

4. Royal Talens Cobra Oil Paints

If you don’t think your artist will like the idea of mixing their own paint, then you might like what Royal Talens Cobra paint has to offer.

Cobra has the look and feel of oil paint in a water-mixable formula with no solvents. There’s absolutely no bad stuff involved, they’re usable just like oil paints, and you can safely clean up anywhere with soap and water without harming yourself or the environment. They’re grrrreen!

Your artist will sleep well at night knowing they’re doing their part to save the planet when they use Royal Talens Cobra paint.

5. Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint, Half Pans, Set of 12

While watercolors are usually the least toxic paints, there are still professional quality watercolors that have toxic heavy metals in them. That doesn’t rock as much as it sounds like it should. This student grade set from Winsor & Newton avoids that problem, reducing the amount of possible toxins that could be released into the environment.

Getting a watercolor set with color pans like this one also means you can replace a single color when it runs out instead of buying a whole new set like some kind of wasteful Wendy.

Winsor & Newton also care about sustainability as a company and have a rainwater collection system in their UK brushmaking plant.

6. Richeson Dulce Easel

If your artist is in the market for an easel, the Richeson Dulce is your best eco-friendly bet.

This bad boy is made of Lyptus premium hardwood, which comes from, you guessed it, eucalyptus trees. They mature in 14–16 years while other hardwoods take up to 60 years. Lyptus trees are into sustainability so hardcore they sprout from the corpses of previously harvested trees. On top of that, Lyptus wood is so much harder than oak it would punch it in the mouth if it could.

This easel is strong enough to withstand everyday use and I wouldn’t be surprised if it outlasts its artist. I hope that’s not a downer.

7. Onyx and Green 24 Pack of Colored Pencils

A pack of 24 colored pencils made out of recycled newspaper, what?!

Yes, this is a gimmicky sorta gift to give an artist, but it’s also a fun gift to give someone who isn’t pressed over quality. If your artist enjoys novelty gifts and doesn’t mind what art tools they use they might appreciate this neat recycled take on colored pencils.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

8. Sprout — Mindful Thoughts Edition | 5 Pack | Graphite Plantable Pencils with Seeds in Eco-Friendly Wood

Another pencil gimmick?! Who saw that coming? Me, I guess. This time we’ve got Sprout’s graphite plantable pencils. When you’re done using them you just plant your pencil stub in the ground and it grows into one of five different plants, which is a very green thing for a pencil to do.

The extra cool thing about this set is they have inspirational quotes on them. Any artist who cares about the environment is bound to be into this type of inspirational yahoo type of stuff, trust me.

With Sprout pencils, your artist will be more mindful, practice sustainability, and grow a garden. Neat.

9. Gift Cards

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

If you’ve made it all the way through this list and haven’t found anything that’s a definite yes to you, you’re in the right spot. The best eco-friendly gift you can get an artist is a gift card.

The last thing any of us needs is more stuff we don’t need. So if you don’t know the exact-specific-perfect item your artist needs in their studio, it’s probably best to let them decide. Give them a gift card and let them know they can fund their next project with it instead of having you give them their thirtieth set of watercolors.

Plus, if you give them a gift card for an art store near their house they can shop locally. That’s totally green. If you have to go for an online art shop instead they might be able to email your artist the gift card so you don’t have to wrap it. Also green!

Wrapping your gift without killing the planet

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

First, have you considered not wrapping it? That’s always an option!

If you actually want to wrap your gift you can re-use old packaging you’ve saved from a gift you received in the past. If you’re not one of us crazy packrat people who save gift boxes, maybe you have an extra tote bag you can repurpose.

If you wanna get fancy you can always wrap your gift with a furoshiki fabric wrap. Ditch the one time use wrapping paper tradition for something decidedly more artsy and…Japanese. It’s not a 1200-year-old tradition in Japan for nothing.

If you buy the fabric from wrappr.com a percentage of the purchase also goes to support the artist who created the design. Your artist will love that about it so make sure they know! And they can also re-use the furoshiki wrap when they give their next gift. It’s so eco-friendly I wanna vomit.

I hope this list of environmentally conscious gifts for the artist in your life helps you find them a present that inspires their creativity! At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what you choose to give them, because all the artist in your life really needs is your love and support. The best gifts are always the ones that come from the heart.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this story please consider supporting me on Patreon.

Artist and blogger. I help people bring more art into the world: natedoesart.com

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