Text reads: Ergonomics for (digital) artists. Happy cartoon owl jogging the right corner, against a green background.

As a digital artist, I’ve thought about ergonomics a lot. I’m a type of person who likes to keep myself healthy, which is why I constantly pursue to better my workstation.

As such, I’ve learned a few things that I think are very essential to maintaining good ergonomics. I’m going to talk about three of them: keeping warm, staying healthy and adjustable furniture.

Before we begin, I want to iterate that I’m not an ergonomics professional. The following are my personal experiences of what has helped me to protect my body from unnecessary strain.

Keep yourself warm

A hoody keeps my back and arms warm. If I get hot, I open the zipper to cool down. Fingerless gloves prevent my wrists from freezing. Woollen socks warm my feet and mind.

During winter, I’ve learned firsthand how cold affects my muscles and tendons. They get stiff and I feel I need to work extra hard to move. If I make sure I’m properly warmed, my muscles can spend less energy and I’m able to work longer without getting fatigued.

That’s why I’ve made my “artist uniform” be all about keeping myself properly warmed. Digital painting puts surprisingly many muscles to use: from the small dextrous ones in our forearms to the big muscles in our backs.

Hence I wear a giant hoody, which covers all those drawing muscles, plus everything around them from head to butt.

Additionally, I wear woollen fingerless gloves, which effectively prevent draft and the table surface from freezing my wrists. The tendons stay relaxed and any carpal tunnel syndromes stay at bay. Added bonus is that the gloves glide effortlessly on my drawing tablet surface.

Lastly, I want my feet to always stay warm. Because cold feet makes the rest of my body sad. 🙁 Good old woollen “grandma socks” are the best!

(And yes, I do wear pants too. They’re nothing too special, just loose and cozy.)

I want to think it’s better to be a bit hot than even a little bit cold.

But of course I don’t want to boil, either! That’s why I’ve chosen a hoody with an all the way down zipper. If I feel hot, I can open the front while still keeping all my drawing muscles covered.

And if I still get hot, I undress the left sleeve to expose my not-drawing side. Still keeping the drawing muscles warm!

Maintain good physical (and mental) health

Exercise trains my body and mind. Jogging relieves stress, hand grip training makes blood flow in my arms and yoga trains many parts of my body.

To me, ergonomics isn’t only about my work environment. It’s also about maintaining good health. Both physical and mental.

Healthy body can withstand long hours of desk work, while healthy mind keeps the whole body relaxed, preventing it from putting additional strain on itself.

I take care of both aspects of my health with regular and versatile exercise. Jogging, muscle workout and stretching. Pumping bags full of groceries while walking home. Squatting and kneeling while vacuuming every nook and cranny of our apartment.

And a very nice bonus for all the workout is that stress and worries vanish! At least that what happens to me, for I’m a type of person whose mental health is strongly connected the amount of physical activity.

Here’s a handy list of some specific exercises I’ve used to keep my drawing muscles in top condition:

  • Hand grip training. Improves blood flow in my hands and keeps my clamping arm muscles strong. An adjustable hand grip has been specifically fantastic, because I can adjust its resistance to fit my strength.
  • Fitness Boxing (a Nintendo Switch game). Makes me flail my arms around so much that stiffnesses pop right out. Also trains my core muscles and makes stress fly out the window.
  • Badminton. My arms get to flail everywhere and legs run like crazy. Stamina increases, stiffnesses free up and stress vanishes. I always make sure to switch the swinging arm so that both sides get equal exercise.

Proper furniture for ergonomic posture

Proper ergonomic furniture is a good investment! Electric table’s height is easy to adjust. Quality chair supports me no matter how I feel like sitting.

Furniture is probably the first thing people associate with ergonomics. Indeed, choosing proper furniture helps to make our workstation more comfortable. When our body feels comfortable, it can relax.

An electric table is the cornerstone of my workstation. It rises and lowers effortlessly with a press of a button, so adjusting won’t be a hassle. We mostly keep our table (Gheralf shares the table with me) on a standing height, because that way we’ll be encouraged to stand more.

A highly adjustable chair is the second crucial ingredient to my ergonomic set up. It adjusts to any position I feel like being in, be it resting on my elbows or leaning backwards with crossed legs. Being able to switch positions is key for me; it’s better to be dynamic than static all day long.

My chair is also tall enough for a table that’s in a standing height. This way I can easily switch between sitting and standing, having even wider variety of poses to be in. A good foothold in my chair ensures that I don’t have to dangle my legs while sitting.

Quality furniture is a good investment, but I think even the best of chairs couldn’t give me the full benefit if I’m not keeping myself well. That’s why I put my points of keeping warm and maintaining good health on top. A happy body and mind is able to be ergonomic on its own; furniture is my external support.

Ergonomics is a constant journey for me, so please leave a comment on how you have improved your work environment. I’d be happy to learn more!

Some of the poses I tend to draw in. Sitting and standing can both be comfortable with healthy body and good furniture! Fun fact: My favourite standing pose is having one foot rest on top of a windowsill.

Vayandil

An artist who lurks in dark places and walks on her toes – a habit from when she was a little dinosaur. If invited for a friendly jog or to play some video games, deep ponderings about life, humanity and functional design choices may occur.

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