4 Inspiring Eco-Friendly Artists
A look at the waste we create, and how to mitigate that as an artist. Jenny Lemons hosts workshops that can teach you sustainable DIY's, as well as artists who creatively reuse materials in their craft. I hope this inspires you to make your art practice a sustainable one!
We all know to be thoughtful about the waste we generate, but how does that translate to our art?
Here are 4 artists to inspire you on your sustainable art journey!
Paper Bag Day is observed every year on July 12. It is a day to spread awareness about using paper bags instead of plastics, and it inspired me to compile a list of creators who are making art with the ethos of reusing and recycling.
I have been paying more attention lately to the habit shifts I can make to generate less waste - whether it's making my own napkins, repairing clothing, or buying products made from recycled materials.
In my own art practice, I think about my materials, where they come from and where they'll be in 10 or 100 years. Doing this often pushes me to be more creative!
The amount of trash we create is literally swept away, and not often talked about. According to the EPA, the average person will generate nearly 5lbs of trash per day, and recycling remains an inefficient and often energy-intensive process with less than 10% of materials actually getting reused. This adds up to over 2,000lbs per year! So if everyone changed their habits, even just a small amount, it would make a HUGE difference.
This is why I love Jenny Lemons, because I know that the items sold here are chosen because the creators are committed to having a sustainable and ethical practice. Jenny Lemons also hosts workshops where you can learn DIY's from creators that will help you build, make and mend your own items rather than buying new!
1. Alex Pokas
Alex Pokas is a natural dyer and artisan based in San Francisco.
Her practice of using natural dyes creates a beautiful connection with and appreciation for nature. To make her dyes, Alex uses plant matter, botanicals, minerals, and food waste, with a focus on local species and upcycled botanicals.
You can find Alex's work and workshops here at Jenny Lemons!
Using locally, ethically sourced natural dyes is a radical idea that can change the way we think about our garments. The fashion industry uses around 93 billion cubic meters (21 trillion gallons) of water annually, enough to fill 37 million Olympic swimming pools. Dyeing is the most polluting and energy-intensive processes involved in making our clothes.
2. Erika Iris
Erika Iris Simmons is a self-taught artist who focuses on using non-traditional, discarded materials to create fine art portraits. Some of the materials you'll see in her work include: Sheet music, wine labels, money and old cassette tapes.
All of the colors and forms you see are 100% created with recycled materials - no new paints or pigments are added!
Her work has received global attention, and she was the honored as the Official Artist for the 2013 Grammy Awards, as well as being featured in Oprah, MAXIM, The Times, and Showtime.
The next time you're thinking about a subject for your artwork, maybe it can also provide inspiration for the materials you use!
3. Corinne Loperfido
Corinne Loperfido, traveling artist and founder of the feminist interactive arts group Pussy Power House, creates works of art made up entirely of items that most people would just throw away. Some of her components include, “bottle caps, toothbrushes, wine corks, dismantled ornate wooden furniture, jar lids, dried up markers, stove knobs, car parts, etc.”
Turning trash into art treasures and tinfoil into temples, Corinne is on a crusade for the good of the planet.
“With each new piece of "trash" we find, the goal is to give new life to the objects through art while simultaneously inviting people to rethink their participation in the continuation of overconsumption and the subsequent destruction of our Earth.”
Trash Temple installation at Meow Wolf Santa Fe
Corinne's work shows that great design can also be great for our planet. It reminds me of Sunski, a Jenny Lemons vendor that uses 100% recycled materials to make their sunglasses frames!
Kanine is an artist who specializes in repairing clothing. Her style is a mix of "sashiko", a Japanese tradition of visible mending using patterns of small, continuous stitches, and traditional embroidery and patches.
I hope this list has left you inspired to try recycling materials the next time you're having a craft night!
In what creative ways do you reuse materials in your craft?
Comment below to share your ideas and inspiration!
Designer, photographer, and cat mom living in Oakland, CA.