7 Best (And Most Comfortable) Chairs For Artists & Illustrators
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When it comes to drawing or painting for prolonged periods of time, comfort is everything.
Therefore, we wanted to round up some of the best chairs for artists who not only need uncompromising comfort in their studio, but also the range of movement and versatility within the chair that won’t impede performance.
That’s why during our thorough research we found that the Herman Miller Sayl Task Chair was simply the best all-around chair for artists. It’s relatively small footprint along with the ample adjustments for seating and pitch made it incredibly versatile for studio use.
Ancillary to the comfort found in this chair was also the design aesthetics. Highly revered for their incredibly detailed design process, Herman Miller has always set the standard when it comes to both the office and studio environment.
While the Sayl chair delivers on all the key components of a quality chair for artists, we did also review several other alternatives within the market.
From stools to full office chairs and everything in-between, here’s a comparison of what we reviewed:
|Boss Office Products Stool||$||No||Yes||No|
|Flash Furniture Swivel Task Chair||$||No||Yes||No|
|Sleekform Ergonomic Kneeling Chair||$||No||Yes||No|
|HON Volt Task Stool||$$||No||Yes||Optional|
|Martin Rolling Wooden Bench||$$||No||No||No|
|Herman Miller Sayl Chair||$$$||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Steelcase Leap Chair||$$$||Yes||Yes||Yes|
The 7 Best Chairs For Artists
Ushering in the mid-century modern design movement with the Eames Lounge Chair in 1956 (now part of the collection at the Museum of Modern Art), Herman Miller knows a thing or two when it comes to design.
While originally designed to be a task chair for the office environment, its uncompromising comfort and range of mobility makes it truly remarkable.
Whether you are painting a watercolor on a relatively flat surface or an oil painting that has been mounted on a full easel or even a pochade box, the Sayl chair will conform to your movement allowing you to concentrate fully on your work.
So, what makes the Sayl chair so great?
For starters, depending on the model of the chair you get (or you can fully customize it through the Herman Miller website), you can fully adjust virtually every component of the chair.
Artists who don’t like when armrests get in their way, you can not only adjust them on the Sayl up and down, but also side to side.
Plus, the overall width of the arms allows you to rest your elbow – helping to steady your arm when working on detail work.
Of course, when you are drawing from the elbow or shoulder, the lowered arm rests won’t get in the way so you can have clean and straight strokes.
While the chair cushion fabric can be customized, the seat itself can also be adjusted both forwards and backwards helping the blood circulate below your waist.
Not probably an important factor when it comes to painting, but the back of the Sayl can be locked in to different angles allow you to lean fully back – perhaps great when you are reviewing your work.
Here’s an overview of all the adjustments you can make when using the Sayl:
Lastly, the back mesh design.
While definitely the most stark design choice of this chair, the mesh back of the chair not only does a great job at supporting your entire back but also allows the air to flow freely.
Artists working for prolonged periods will love the induction of air as it allows you to never get too hot or distracted when working on your next piece.
- Smart design
- Several comfort adjustments
- Variety of finish styles
- Fairly priced
- Design may be a bit too raw for some
If there ever is a company that will keep Herman Miller honest it’s going to be Steelcase.
Their most popular chair – the Steelcase Leap chair is the ultimate task chair for artists.
With the most loved feature of this chair being both the extraordinarily comfortable seat cushion for larger folks the ‘live back’ technology of the chair comes in at a close second.
With the ability to fully support your lumbar no matter the position, the Steelcase Leap is great for artists of not only all ages, but of any form of painting or drawing as well.
Even if you suffer from sciatica, the Steelcase Leap has been favored by those with lower back pain by helping to drastically reduce the discomfort.
The arm rests can be lowered (they cannot be removed) down to your hips so you have full range of motion when it comes to selecting the instrument you may need in order to keep painting or drawing comfortably.
When raising the arm rests, like the Sayl, you have a full range of motion at your disposal:
This allows you to get just the right adjustment for you to create your artwork.
While this chair is a bit more expensive than the others on the list, if you are looking for comfort above all else then the Steelcase Leap is definitely worth a closer look.
- Smart back technology
- Comfortable seat cushion
- Fully adjustable arm rests
- Great for artists with back problems
For the more nimble artists looking to remain relatively mobile in the studio, then a stool like this one from Boss Office Products will be a great choice.
With the ability to add a back support or go fully without it, this stool is great for when you need to get up close to your painting or drawing and really work the fine details.
For artists who are working on large scale pieces, the lack of back support or arm support can be liberating as it will give you the ultimate range in motion – especially if you are trying to make straight lines as you will need to either draw from your elbow or shoulder.
When it comes to oil/acrylic/gouache or any other mediums where you must select between a wide variety of paints, mediums, solvents, brushes, etc. – the swivel and wheel base will allow you to quickly navigate to your supplies.
What will all this mean for you?
A much more efficient and cleaner painting process for you to concentrate fully on the work at hand.
Of course, for some of the older artists out there the lack of lumbar support or arm rests may cause some fatigue – but in short spurts there is no beating the mobility of a stool like this one.
- Full range of motion for arms
- Swivel chair and wheels allow for quick art supply selection
- Perfect for artists who switch between standing and sitting
- Uncomfortable for long term use
- No back or arm support
A bit more versatile than the stool comes this swivel task chair by Flash Furniture.
Featuring a much more contemporary design than your typical task chair, this task chair is perfect for artists who want the full mobility and range of motion of a stool but require just a little bit of back support.
With no arm rests to inhibit your range of motion, you can concentrate on your artwork rather than moving the arm rests out of the way when you go to make larger strokes with your brushes.
With the ability to adjust the height of the chair only (does not tilt), this will allow you to get eye-level with your painting or drawing and really work the details.
While a tilt feature is a ‘nice to have’ and not a ‘must have’, artists who use this chair will often forget about tilting since it will be seldom used when painting or drawing.
With a sub $100 price tag, this chair is perfect for the artists out there that want a bit of comfort within their studio and have a restricted budget.
- Full range of movement like stool
- Contemporary design
- Limited customization
- No arm rests
- No tilt
Invented in 1979, the kneeling chair is designed to be much more ergonomic in order to reduce back pain.
With a 90-degree chair and an extremely soft cushion, this kneeling chair by Sleekform is perfect for artists.
While art horses or art benches (covered next) are popular within art schools, a chair like the Sleekform is a much more comfortable alternative for studio and home use.
Allowing you to have an unobstructed view in front and to the sides, this Sleekform chair will give you a full range of movement whether it comes to larger brush strokes or selecting just the right tool, medium, or solvent for your piece of artwork.
Should you like to draw or paint from a live model, the unobstructed and ergonomic design will allow you to efficiently work on your piece while studying the contours of the model.
A word of warning when it comes to kneeling chairs:
Given that they rely on core strength, some artists find that they can work on these only for a limited amount of time before their muscles begin to tire.
Therefore, you will want to have another chair at the ready when first starting out on this one.
But as your core muscles begin to strengthen, you will find that you can stay on the kneeling chair for longer periods.
What we really liked about this Sleekform kneeling chair was its satisfaction guarantee. Given that some may be a bit apprehensive about trying out a kneeling chair (although as you can see the review average is 4.2 out of 5), you do have 30 days to try this and still receive free return shipping.
Overall this is a great chair for artists looking to improve their posture and comfort while painting.
- Ergonomic design
- Great alternative to the art horse/bench
- Full range of movement
- May become tiring at first
There is no beating the HON Volt Task Stool when it comes to versatility – and the primary reason why we included it on our list.
The range in height of this chair alone makes it one of the best chairs for artists. With the ability to be raised all the way to 33” and lowered to appx. 20” you can use this chair for artwork at a desk level or one that is fully mounted on an easel.
The lower 20” may not be suitable for some desks or artists (might just be a touch too high) – so be sure to measure appropriately before you decide on this one.
The foot rest on the stool allows for additional comfort when adjusted to its highest setting, giving you more control over your upper torso by keeping the lower half of your body stationary.
Height adjustment aside, it gets even better when it comes to options and range of movement.
One of the biggest downsides to many of the more traditional office chairs is that they will have arm rests that tend to get in the way – especially when working on much larger scale pieces.
This becomes a problem when drawing or painting as you may accidentally hit an arm rest and have a messy stroke.
With the ability to add on arm rests, you have the choice – not the manufacturer to decide what will be the most comfortable for you.
Given that this comes under the average price of all the chairs on this list – the HON Volt is definitely great for artists who don’t mind spending just a bit more than the cheapest options but still want a comfortable seat.
- Ultimate in height adjustment
- Perfect for artists who use larger easels but still want to sit
- Optional arms are perfect
- Incredibly priced
- Lowest height may be just a bit too high for shorter artists
- No tilt setting
Art benches (also known as an art horse) are a staple chair found in art schools everywhere.
With an easel mount and a forward-facing design, this chair is designed for artists who practice model drawing heavily.
When using an art bench like the Martin Rolling one here, you can get better perspective and proportions within your work as your eyes don’t need to go too far off the subject before they are on the drawing surface.
While not the most comfortable chair for prolonged use (speaking on personal experience), their utility matches that of a stool when it comes to range of motion that you can achieve while drawing.
Of course, the lack of back support does make these a bit tougher for some artists who like to work on their pieces for prolonged periods.
But if you are looking to recreate the art school vibe within your own studio and plan on drawing models on a regular basis, then then the wooden bench may make sense for you.
Lastly, unlike every other chair or stool featured in this article, art horses like this one can be folded and stored away into a closet or under the bed – making it the perfect option for artist who may be living in dorms or cramped apartments where square feet are at a premium.
- Best option for model drawing
- Built in easel allows you to simultaneously focus on the subject and the drawing
- Collapsible design
- Full range of motion
- Not the most comfortable chair for prolonged periods
- Lack of back support
- Wooden seat may need a cushion or two