A Rant On Fixatif

My students and fellow colleagues always ask me, “How do you protect your drawings when you are done? What fixitif do you recommend? There are so many to choose from?”

The answer is always the same. DON’T. Do not do it. Do not trash your drawing by spraying shit on it. The only time I would suggest considering spraying your drawing with fixitif is if it is a sketch in your sketchbook that you don’t really care too much about. If it is something where there isn’t too many layers to it… something that isn’t worked on too much… then it might be something to consider, just so the pages don’t smudge it around too much.

If you work with charcoal like I am though, and if you are working with the materials like my students are working with thick layers of materials the fixitif will not even do anything to protect. It would just be a layer over a super movable cushion of powder. It will offer zero protection. The other reason, which is significantly more important and the main reason why you should avoid spray fixitif for your drawings is this. You will destroy your drawing. It’s almost guaranteed.

Think about this for a second. You have been working on your drawing and you go to blow the dust off and a wad of spit lands on your drawing. It soaks in to your paper, charcoal/graphite and all. Changing the value of that area and completely fucking up all of your lights and darks. Now think of it in a bigger area. A huge spray can of moisture? making all of your values... all of your carefully rendered shadows and form… completely trashed. They become muted and compressed. You lost all of your contrast and your form is now flatter. Now in addition to your charcoal being soaked in to the paper, if you work in thick applications of material like I do, my students do, and some of my colleagues do, all of those layers of material blend together in an extremely unexpected and almost always an undesirable way.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Well, if I shouldn’t use fixitif on my finished drawings, how do I protect my drawings???”
Putting it in a frame should be enough, if you have a frame to put it in. Just do not use plexiglass or something. Use real glass. Plastic will suck the particles right off of your drawing and then you will have a second drawing on your glass. Even the “static free” plexi is not actually static free. It’s only less static-y. If you are not ready or able to put it in a frame, you have other options at your disposal. Foamcore is a great way to protect your drawings. If you mount your drawing to board, a couple of strips of foamcore to lift a second board above your drawing will prevent anything rubbing against your drawing.

So, tl;dr. DON’T FUCKING SPRAY YOUR DRAWING. IT WILL WRECK EVERYTHING YOU LOVE.

Thank you for reading lol

-Stephen Yavorski

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