Art is a language of its own – a transcendental and powerful one. Works of art have the potential to evoke unexpected feelings and thought patterns in people, some immediately uncomfortable or unsettling, some instantly revelational, some ever so delicately conveyed yet with far reaching, gradually transformative consequences.
This article is dedicated to those who have combined their creative talents and passion for art with their rebellion against animal abuse and exploitation. Their art being inspirational, thought-provoking and emotive, it is indeed a unique and significant form of Animal Rights activism – in short, it is ARtivism.
Here are over 30 talented and dedicated artivists, in no particular order, whose work is presented alongside some of their thoughts on veganism, animals, activism and the role of art in shining a light on the plight of animals. Follow their work and give them your support in any way you can.
“I believe art has the power to move people and inspires them to search their own morals and ethical stance towards nonhuman animals. Art reaches people where graphic photographs or the written word cannot.
Art is and should be a mechanism for social awareness and a platform for the demonstration of what the single mind can do to change the world.”
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“The imagery is the reflection of reality drawn to create change. Many of the scenes I have witnessed directly. Some I have not drawn at all, yet. As Beckmann said about being in the trenches of WW1 – my art eats here.
I do consider art and activism to be one and the same. If people are not protesting by now, they are not paying attention. The crime is indifference.”
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“I became a vegetarian in 2001 and a vegan in 2013. It was this shift from vegetarianism to veganism that influenced my art to start focusing primarily on the issues of animal rights.
I have consistently been a champion of veganism through my art. I have always been a narrative painter and each painting has a story to tell.
My underlying message throughout is ‘Why do we love some animals and eat others?’
Veganism inspires my art, it is my passion.”
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“Art and a connection to animals have been constants throughout my life, but fifteen years ago while bedridden and sick from chemotherapy I was compelled to bring them to the forefront. I co-founded a small animal advocacy organization, stumbled into the ugly world of industrial animal agriculture, and immediately began conducting investigations to understand what I was seeing. Exposing the extent of the horrors animals trapped in the system endure became my life’s work.
While my investigative footage was largely successful in reaching Canadians, change wasn’t coming soon enough for the animals. What I realized was that the very people who would empathize with the animals’ suffering and take action were turning away from the graphic evidence before absorbing the message. I wondered if art, with its ability to be softer but equally as effective, could be the way to reach this group. I tentatively began releasing my paintings three years ago and the response has been heartening.
All of my work—investigative and artistic—seeks to challenge our basic beliefs about farmed animals and foster a sense of compassion for all animals.”
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“Since 2008 I have been living as a vegan and dealing with the human-animal relationship in my artworks. My paintings are imaginations of a human-animal-relationship that seems unusual and new at first glance yet could still be possible: Utopian depictions of so called “farm animals” and other animals free from the boundaries of the human-made architecture of exploitation and put into different contexts. The goal is to show a respectful human-animal relationship on an equal footing.
I want to evoke a perception of non-human animals which is not shaped by the will to dominate them but to recognize them as relatives and subjects of their own life.”
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“I believe that the problematic, inconsistent relationship that humans have with other animals is the most important issue affecting all of us today. The way that many people disregard even the basic sentience of non-human animals, and actively debase anything which is ‘different’ to them, is the platform from which all abuse and exploitation is justified – including the mistreatment of other humans.
We are living in so-called civilised and enlightened times, yet, despite the efforts of the few, we are continuing to destroy everything which is natural and beautiful at an ever increasing pace. Overall, populations of wild animals have halved in the last decade, with more and more species being added to lists of the endangered. And this, at a time when awareness of conservation issues is greater than ever before.
I would like my artwork to engender a sense of humility, to encourage people to examine how comfortable they are with the way they treat other species. Humans aren’t better or superior to other animals; indeed, as humans are the only species to routinely practise genocide, warfare, sexual abuse and environmental destruction, a very good argument could be made that we are the inferior ones.”
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“This is my mission now: using art to raise awareness of our conflicted relationship with animals and share it with the World.
If you’re a non-vegan, I hope my art can make you see animals as individuals, make you question your habits and the setting of our society and wonder why we love some animals and carelessly enslave and kill others when we don’t need to. If you’re a vegan, I hope my work can be of inspiration to you, of support when you’re feeling hopeless, of motivation to keep on fighting for the animals and to get active in your own way.”
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Caroletta (Art and Almonds)
“Children eat their favourite little sausages without even knowing what is inside. They can’t make the connection between the meat on their plates and the animal that this piece of dead flesh once was. Most adults have forgotten – or never known – this either.
Because the animals are invisible. Their killing takes place behind closed doors. With the painted series “About Meat” I want to give a face to the invisible carnism in our society. I want to illustrate this completely absurd way of thinking and I’m still far from finished.”
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“I feel that we as a species, as conscious individuals with great power to influence others, have obligations to these animals.
I want to be the activist I’d want if I was in the animals’ position.”
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“I’ve been creative all my life, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I finally combined my training as an artist, my vegan lifestyle and the information I’d learned from working in the Animal Rights sector and decided to become an Artivist.
I wanted to use my artistic and writing skills to help reveal the hidden truths at the heart of our farming industries, and to shine a light on the very worst aspects of what almost all of us would choose to ignore.
By using the unique qualities of art I want to treat the innocent victims of our cruelty with dignity and compassion. And by doing so, allow the viewer to feel empathy and pity, and to realise that each of these exploited creatures is an individual with character, thoughts and emotions.”
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“My art is all about showing people the version of the world that all vegans and animal-rights activists are fighting for, and the potential of humanity. If everyone was kind and compassionate and treated animals with respect – it would feel the way a viewer may feel when they look at one of my paintings.
As I am an intuitive artist, my imaginative storytelling mind also controls the images and so the paintings become something people can create their own stories with and hopefully spread joy and inspire enthusiasm about caring for animals.”
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“Becoming vegan was like awakening to a strange dystopia of violence against non-human species, and so I felt compelled to depict animals in all their beauty and tragic suffering in order to try to change attitudes.
I believe that my role as an artist is to confront, question and unsettle. And to tell the truth – it can be through allegory or the surreal, but what I express through pictures must be true.”
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Epiphany SZoot (Peace Key Artistry)
is a somebody.
My art reflects my heart, and in my heart is the love that is Jesus christ and the pursuit that is peace for all. Animals are family to me and just like my human family, I’d do all I can to get them out of hell. Because I love them just the same.”
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“I believe that every artist has a moral duty to denounce injustice in his work. That’s why I use my brushes to give voice to all those animals that are exploited and mistreated every day.
Español: Creo que todo artista tiene el deber moral de denunciar la injusticia con su trabajo. Por eso utilizo mis pinceles para dar voz a todos esos animales que son explotados y maltratados cada día.”
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Chantal Poulin Durocher
“May my talent be used to give tribute to all our sisters and brothers, the non-human animals, who suffer so much because of our greed , ignorance and lack of compassion. May eyes open towards their own individuality, sensibility, intelligence and desire not to suffer, just like us.
May all beings be well, free and happy is my dearest desire.”
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“I have always wanted to create meaningful art. So when I discovered artivism, I finally found a way to combine my two passions.
Using my art to speak up for animals gives my art purpose and is an amazing way to spread the vegan message. I even painted my whole car so I can take the vegan message everywhere I go!”
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“My illustrations aim to address the intersectionality between human rights, animal rights and environmental rights. I believe that compassion exists in every person and I hope my art can help people make the connection between human and non human life forms.”
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“In my pictures I tell stories and I hope they can be an opportunity to convey the idea of animal liberation and thus contribute to society on this path to liberation. I try to show different points of view about the relationship between Human and Animal with the goal to start a reflection on kind or violent relationships and in the latter case, to push for changes. I raise questions about morality, justice, ethics, freedom, peace and ask where the consistency is between our thoughts, words and actions.
Vegan art allows us to give a voice to billions of animals and is an additional opportunity to be able to affect people on a deep level. Art can be a catalyst for the change towards a better world and can have a strong impact.”
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“I prefer the term “Animal Rights Art” to “Vegan Art”. It is about TOTAL LIBERATION: Liberate yourself and the world from speciesism, racism, sexism, nationalism… stupidism. As best as you can.
Vegan means only “I’m trying to suck less”. Today we have to beware that veganism doesn’t become another new food & lifestyle religion. It’s about (self) liberation, enlightenment, responsibility, sustainability, extension of empathy, …fairness, not “hunting carnivores” as a (100% vegan) pack.
AR art for me is just one channel for trying to reach humans about an important topic – in my preferred “language”. Every type of activism can be powerful. I think it is important to not get sick in the face of all of the suffering in the world and to enjoy your engagement with passion. And working as an artist, specifically drawing “weapons & memorials of Enlightenment“ is „my thing“… it is fulfilling.”
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“Creating awareness in mostly hidden areas that so deeply affect this one and only home of ours and all of its inhabitants is my goal. While no one can force another to think or feel differently than they already do, I feel we should at the very least be informed consumers.
Art can be as effective as any other method of outreach, it’s one of the tools I use with hopes of reaching someone, anyone. It is the only thing that has ever inspired me to pick up the pencil and try my hand at drawing.”
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“I always loved to draw and paint but what eventually got me creating these vegan-themed illustrations is all the frustration I have been feeling living my life as a vegan in this meat-eating world. I somehow found a way to channel all this anger and resentment and transform it into something that I hope holds value for the world and can help demolish carnism and bring about positive change.
Once your eyes have finally opened you feel that it is your duty to speak up for the voiceless.
I would like to emphasize that each and every one of us is able to do something and that every little bit counts. I want to encourage fellow vegans to try to find their own creative voice for the animals. Some of us draw or paint, others create music, while many are great at writing. We are all talented in one way or another. If you just dare to experiment with different ideas, different creative expressions, in the end you will find your own voice with which you can help raise awareness and advocate equality for all species on this planet.”
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Lindsay Leigh Lewis
“We share this Earth with deep thinking, feeling, vulnerable, precious souls. In greed, selfishness, and lack of empathy, we treat them as products – worse even. But we can choose to live more kindly- to GIVE to the Earth and our dear fellow earthlings instead of choosing the cruelty with which we TAKE. ? How is it that we as humans believe ourselves the most evolved of the species when we lack even the most basic compassion?
We can do better than this. We MUST do better than this.”
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“Painting animals, that are „used“ by man was one further step, to use all I can to try to help them by showing their personality, their beauty, their kindness. With my paintings I reach people in a different way. They speak their own language without words, reaching out for consciousness and empathy.
Being vegan was not enough for me.”
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“Art for me is a powerful way of communication.
I need to express through art the injustices suffered by animals and make them visible, since they can’t defend themselves.”
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Ryan Phillips (Art from a vegan heart)
“I believe that the power of using art to spread the vegan message is that many people might ignore someone simply saying why one should go vegan. But often seeing the effort that went into a work of art, these same people may take the time to consider the message being presented in this creative manner.”
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“The art I make for myself is deeply rooted in my passion for animals and animal rights activism. I try to create beautiful and touching illustrations that depict the struggles of animals that aren’t usually depicted in artwork. My hope is that the imagery will stick with the viewer until the next meal is ordered or product is purchased, my hope is always that a seed is planted.
I think the role of artists has always been to shine a light on issues in the world. Political artwork has always been important regardless of what the current world issues are at the time they are created.”
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Hayley M Dorian (It’s A Colourful Life)
“When I first became Vegan just over 4 years ago, I began wondering how I could do more to help, but wasn’t quite ready to get myself out there to do full on activism. I then discovered art, something which I’d not done since school, so I began to use art as a form of activism and joined a group of global vegan artists, where we take part in many projects throughout the year to help bring awareness and to raise money for non profit vegan organisations.
Art is so powerful and I’m happy to see that this form of activism is a real thing and is constantly growing. As the saying goes, ‘a picture paints a thousand words’.”
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“Art can empower people, change ideologies, and start conversations in a way that complements traditional protests.
Art can create the space where people can digest messages that challenge dominant ideologies, like carnism.”
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“I became a vegan many years ago, but I have been painting throughout my life.
I understood that my paintings could be a way to get in touch with people and to send messages of love.
To show the reality and to show the other side of the coin in as many ways as possible.
By example at the table, through activism and through my art.”
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“I make vegan art because I want to give other people the opportunity to see animals through my eyes. I hope people will see them as individuals and open their heart for all animals.”
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“My inspiration, my drive and the reason for my artivism are the animals and my mission is to empower fellow vegans and to inspire new generations.”
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“Monica Garone uses the cartoon style with an ironic key, stinging and ruthless – to denounce animal exploitation and she does so by putting the viewer in front of a mirror, creating fictional worlds in which she reverses the situation and where the animals almost always have the edge over the humans. The wickedness of her animals is nothing more than a reflection of who we are. we’re forced to perceive the freedom inside a cage of conditioned habitat perhaps a mirror that reverses roles is enough to drag our smug ignorance in front of the reality of an horizon betrayed due to guilty blindness.”
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