Since the very beginning of CPSA, our organization recognized that lightfastness was the single most important quality issue to colored pencil artists. Knowing how a medium will withstand the test of sun and time is important to every dedicated artist. Because of this, CPSA worked diligently in conjunction with the ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing Materials), colored pencil manufacturers, and art conservators to create D6901, the Standard Specification for Artists’ Colored Pencils. The standard was passed in 2003 and the Press Release for this historic event can be seen here.
D6901 uses two types of lightfast testing, a sunlight test and a xenon arc test, to simulate the effects that prolonged sun exposure will have on a colored pencil. With the results of these tests, a colored pencil can then be accurately placed into a lightfastness category. Lightfastness categories are represented as I, II, III, IV, and V with I being the best (high lightfastness) and V being the worst (low lightfastness.) Only pencils with lightfastness ratings of either I or II can be labeled as complying with the standard. For an entire line of colored pencils to be labeled as D6901 compliant, every pencil must have a lightfast rating of either I or II. Unfortunately, complying with the standard is not mandatory and there is currently only one colored pencil line that is D6901 compliant. We urge artists to contact companies directly with their concerns about quality issues such as lightfastness. Artists must make their voices heard if they want to have high quality, lightfast materials available!