Artistic expression is a beautiful thing. The swipe of a paintbrush on canvas should sound sweet to an artist—that is, unless the paintbrush is made with animal hair. That’s right: Animals used for paintbrushes suffer in many of the same ways as animals used for fur coats. Some are caught in the wild using steel-jaw traps and snares—and many of them freeze to death before the trappers return. Others are gassed in their dens or beaten to death with clubs. In some instances, such as with boars, oxen, badgers, goats, and horses, the hair may be cut or plucked out while the animal is still alive.
Animal-fur brushes are manufactured largely in China, where laws to protect animals are either nonexistent or unenforced. And since one mongoose yields only a handful of hair, you can imagine how many terrified animals are abused to supply the world’s paintbrush industry—millions.
In order to trick consumers and—in some circumstances—to avoid being prosecuted for illegal hunting, the hair is often unlabeled or mislabeled. “Sable” hair is actually not from sables at all—it’s taken from minks, ferrets, or weasels, and some of these animals are considered endangered. “Camel” hair can be from squirrels, goats, or a combination of different animals. Ox hair is pulled from the ears and may be labeled “sabeline.” And “pony” hair can be taken from horses’ backs or manes.
The more that consumers learn about these facts, the faster fur paintbrushes will become a thing of the past. Fortunately, companies are becoming aware of the fur industry’s cruelty and deception and are making the switch to vegan brushes.
There are many benefits to vegan brushes. They’re less prone to damage from paints and easier to clean than animal fibers, which trap paint. Synthetics are also less prone to breakage, and the texture is controlled and consistent, qualities that are harder to achieve when you have a mix of different animals’ fur. Major art-supply stores and websites like Colors of Nature carry a large selection of 100 percent synthetic brushes. Search for the term “synthetic” at sites like Dick Blick Art Materials, Utrecht Art Supplies, Jerry’s Artarama, and Rosemary & Co. Even synthetic mongoose and synthetic squirrel brushes are available. Also look for Taklon, which is a synthetic fiber used in paint and makeup brushes.
Are you ready to make a commitment to not wear or use fur in any way? Pledge to be fur-free today!