EFA: Etsy For Animals Etsy For Animals: From ModJess -- Artists and Fur

Etsy for Animals (EFA) aka Artists Helping Animals,

is a team of independent artists, craftspeople,

vintage sellers and craft suppliers on Etsy.com

who are dedicated to providing charitable relief to animals

by donating a portion of the profits from their shops

to an animal charity of their choosing,

and/or to EFA's featured Charity of the Month.

Friday, February 19, 2010

From ModJess -- Artists and Fur

From http://modjess.etsy.com;

Since discovering items made with real fur on Etsy, I’ve struggled with this conundrum: how is it that some “artists,” of all people, could possibly be part of cruelty to other living beings? Isn’t the very nature of being an artist something that results in a more compassionate, holistic view of life?

Which got me thinking. What is an artist? How do we become artists and what makes us different?

As children, we all start out as blank slates. Of course, our environment weighs heavily on the people we become. But there’s an innate wonder and curiosity about the world around us that is beautifully evident in children’s artwork. They do silly things, brilliant abstracts, wildly original compositions. (I think this is because they’re free from the cliches and knowledge and self-criticism that limit our creativity as we mature.) And there always seems to be a fascination and admiration for other forms of life besides their own, as children often depict animals in their artwork. Children are naturally drawn to animals, understanding, from a very deep place, that they are important cohabitants with us on this planet. Beautiful, interesting, scary, soft, cute, ugly. But always fascinating.

Perhaps artists are a bit different than non-artists because we retain a little more of this precious curiosity as we mature. Maybe, it’s because we really see. Our eyes remain wide open, and must be so, in order to create. In keeping our eyes open, we can see the intricate, almost unimaginable beauty of another living being. Whether that being is a person or a dog or a mink or a mouse, there is a complex system inside them that creates such a stunning exterior. And, in working with living subject matter, there is a sacred relationship we develop with them. How can this not be? To look so closely into the eyes of another living being is to see the world and the beauty of life reflected back at you. It’s surreal. It’s life-changing. And when you’ve done this, you can not possibly be capable of taking that life away.

The death of another living being, especially for such a purpose as creating fur, is unconscionable. It goes against the very nature of who we are as artists. We are the visionaries, the big picture thinkers, who see the sacred relationship between all living things. To exterminate life is the antithesis of appreciating it. And appreciating it is the very first step—as even children inherently know— in making art.

This adorable drawing was done by Lea, at age 5, of her dog Sailor.


  1. Wonderful write up, I agree, Jess :) LOVE that sweet doggy drawing too!~

  2. you are an amazing writer, artist and person jesse. you are one of my most favorite people in the whole world. i am going to forward this write up to many people. i also will be buying more of your beautiful and original tiles from you as they are magnificent. your dear dear friend paula

  3. I agree, Jessi. Killing animals to "beautify" someone is unconscionable, and I'm surprised and disappointed at Etsy for condoning such cruelty. This will definitely mean I'll look elsewhere for gifts.

  4. Thanks so much for the nice comments. But CAgirl, even though it is sad that Etsy itself does allow fur products on their site, there are hundreds of us ethical Etsy sellers (take a look at all the Etsy for Animals (EFA) team members, for example :-) who work hard to help animals. From donating to animal charities, raising awareness, and creating items that directly benefit animals in need—we make our voices heard and, I believe, make a difference. Take a peek at the EFA website to see some of what the EFA members are doing: http://efaartistshelpinganimals.org.
    So maybe you'll come visit the stores of EFA members, and the many other shops on Etsy who do care. Take a look here, at the list of all the Etsy seller teams: http://team.etsy.com/teams.html

  5. I agree with Jessi, there are also awesome vegan/veg teams, I'm a member of Vegan Etsy, Etsy Veg, and Cruelty Free Etsy, you can search Etsy for vegan items, right now there are 1,737 items! http://www.etsy.com/search_results.php?search_type=all&search_query=vegan

  6. Your article is thought provoking and excellent. As an animal lover and artist I had not quite honestly given much thought to what is sold on Etsy and other auction sites 'tho I abhor the needless killing of any animal for adornment. Thank you for sharing, will forward the url for your blog to my on line friends and also add you to my 'places to visit'.


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