Tips for Studio Safety

September 29, 2015

Whether you work in your own studio, a shared space, or at home, it is important to take precautions against materials that may be harmful to you or the environment if not handled with care. Here are a few tips and practices you can implement to set a high standard of safety in your workspace.


Know when to wear a respirator. Whenever you are working with fine, dusty particles, such as powdered media, or are spraying, heating, or sanding, wear a NIOSH-approved respirator. You can find a variety of respirators fit for the task at Canadian Tire, or your local hardware store. Be sure to work in a well–ventilated area without too much draft.


Take proper precautions with chemicals. Some pigments contain harmful materials, and they will be labelled as such on the packaging. Know what chemicals are hazardous, or flammable, and what precautions to take when using them with Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Request an MSDS directly from the manufacturer or by emailing us at


Use high-quality or solvent-free mediums. An artist’s solvent should:

  • evaporate completely and at a uniform rate
  • have no effect on dried paint layers
  • be chemically inert with your materials
  • mix completely
  • have no toxic vapours (pungent aromas are indicators of toxicity)

If you do not have proper studio ventilation, have health concerns, or simply want to go solvent-free, look for solvent-free mediums.

*As defined by Ralph Mayer: The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques and Mark Gottsegen: The Painter’s Handbooks


Keep your studio and hands clean. Keeping a clean and clutter-free space is a huge part of studio safety. Make sure that there are no major obstructions in walkways, no unidentified solvents in yoghurt containers, etc. Rags that have oil or solvent residue on them are combustible, so keep them far from heat, in a container with water until you can dispose of them safely. Be sure to wear gloves — you touch your face, and your food with your hands, so make sure there is no potentially toxic residue on them.


  • Seal any excess paint on your palette with plastic wrap to preserve it for your next painting session.
  • For “greener” acrylic practices, dispose of excess paint in your garbage, rather than the sink. Read more at
  • Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in the studio, or mixing paints or solvents with your kitchen utensils.
  • Gamblin Oil Colours suggest saving and mixing your excess paints to create your very own Torrit Grey colour!