Danger! Danger! High Voltage! (Safety)
I know what you’re thinking.
How can making art be dangerous timotheories?
But what if you wanted to cut a piece of wood? Or lift some clay bigger than 25 pounds? What if you decided to use aerosol cans to seal your work?
Believe it or not art can be dangerous.
Art can be dangerous, and not just for the obvious reasons of ridicule, failure and self-loathing. There are safety risks of health and wellness to consider too. How you deal with the myriad number of ways that this problem could unfold, is really up to you, but there are lots of good habits needed to be relatively safe in the process of art making.
Its all relative, after all.
That’s right, not only can painting have ill effects upon the human body, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, photography and even drawing require that you think about work safety in your environment. Yes its important to get into the zone, strike while the iron is hot, you have inspiration, and a host of other trope-ish bullshit, but living a full life will work wonders for your productivity.
A Safety Net
Some of the most common risks while in the midst of a creative endeavour are related to physical hazards like precariously placed equipment, blocked traffic routes, poor ventilation for aerosols, improper protection from chemicals and flammable materials, but electricity and power tools need to be created with care as well, but I managed to find an extensive guide from Princeton University of all places, which will guide you on your way to proper care and maintenance of your art equipment.
Artists use so many of the same hazardous materials as people working in industrial settings, but unfortunately so many artists are ill-prepared with little to no training on how to use the products they buy or the risks associated with using said products.
Not all companies are going to do the work and properly label their products with hazard warnings or explanations on how to use them. It might not seem like fun, but spending the time reading warning labels and doing some research about how pure pigment works versus binders versus water-based paint versus oil-based paint could save your life.
Safety In Numbers
Yes, it seems like a grueling and arduous process to get through, but terminal problems can easily arise from leaving oil based paints on your skin for too long or from inhaling aerosol paint because you didn’t feel like wearing the proper mask or using a well ventilated space.
This list of essentials will get you through most challenges, but an intimate understanding of your tools and safety equipment is something I cannot teach you in one post.
1. Emergency phone number list by your phone!
2. Spare charger for your mobile phone and a land line for emergencies
3. Fire detector(s) and a fire extinguisher
4. First aid kit. Don’t skimp on this!
5. Windows that allow for ample fresh air and/or easy access to outside air for ventilation
6. Emergency exit(s) – located near your studio space
7. Running water – in your studio or close by with easy access to it
8. An eye wash station and emergency shower – for chemical exposure
9. Electrical outlets away from open water sources, and water sources in the space
10. Waste disposal for toxic substances, flammable substances and a sealed storage area for them
11. Fire blankets
12. Exhaust ventilation system – for anything aerosol or airborne
The Safety Dance
And just for fun, consider telling a friend or loved one when you’ll be working, what you’ll be working on and how long you expect to be in the studio. Because who knows, maybe something happens while you are in the studio and you can’t get to the phone or any of your safety gear. That loved one could be the difference between being crushed by something heavy, bleeding out from a saw accident or simply being attacked on the way home at 2 am.
Again, I realize these are not nice things to discuss, but they are absolutely necessary if you are going to be a professional creative. And it’s worth a lifetime of occupational health.
With all of that said, this was yet another example of the OECD index of needs at work, so thank Postconsumers.com for providing me with the topic of Safety to address with you, my dear sweet readers. I hope this post has been informative, and maybe a little too brief, but I promise you, there is a wealth of information out there on art safety, and even a few theories on how to implement it.
But stay with me as we address those examples in future months.