Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why Canvas?

With the advent of digital technology, having your prints transferred to canvas is cheaper and easier then ever before. Instead of printing your family photos at home on your personal inkjet printer on so called ‘photo paper’ you could instead have it printed on canvas and professionally stretched on a gallery quality frame for as little as 20 dollars. 
Professional canvas services can take a high quality scan of your photograph or use a digital file if the resolution is high enough and digitally enhance it. If there are minor color or lighting issues, these can usually be corrected prior to printing. The canvases used by these services are of a much higher quality then the photo paper available for use at home. The key advantages of canvas prints are as follows:


Canvas has a textured surface that paper cannot compare to, images printed on canvas take on the texture of the canvas and give a realistic appearance. This gives your prints a unique, personal appearance. 

Image Quality:

When you send an image into a studio they are not using the same kind of inkjet printer to print the image as you have at home. They are instead using an extremely high resolution, wide format printer manufactured by one of the best known companies, such as Epson or Canon. This image is going to have a much higher resolution and color accuracy then an image printed at home. Studios can also do slight image enhancements with Photoshop such as shadow or color correction.

Professional Appearance:

Canvas stretched over stretcher bars has a much more professional appearance then any other form of media. Even a fine art print on paper cannot match it, paper must be framed behind glass and canvas can be out in the environment. This leads to less distraction from the image itself and having it look like it came from a gallery is sure to impress your visitors. 


Paper is not the most durable substrate to have a long lasting memories etched on, however, canvas is. Canvas can be left outside uncovered and it will not deteriorate like paper. In addition, it is much easier to mount because instead of having to put a glass framed paper up, one can instead simply mount the framed canvas. 

Price and Convenience:

Never before have high quality prints been available as cheaply as now. It is as easy as sending a digital file to a printer service and paying for it. Prices range depending on the size of the print, but they start at around 20 dollars. 


Most art in someone’s home is purchased to fit in a specific place and canvas prints can be custom ordered to fit perfectly. It can range from 8x8 to as large as 72x54, which gives great variability in the size of your art. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Safe Place: Prevent Possible Damage To Your Work by Storing It Correctly

        Damage over time is expected with paintings as the materials experience environmental degradations. However, many of these negative changes can be mitigated by proper care and handling of your painting. Paintings are traditionally done on a canvas surface, nevertheless paintings on paper and other such mediums is becoming increasingly popular. 
        A constant temperature and humidity are extremely important in keeping optimum color quality and structural integrity of your original work of art. Temperatures that people would be comfortable in are also ideal conditions for paintings, and humidity should be between 40-60 percent. Drastic changes in temperatures can cause artificial expansions and contractions in the canvas or wood, which can affect the colors and strength of the material. Galleries usually have temperature and humidity control systems to minimize damage to paintings. If the work of art is displayed in your home, try choosing an area that has the least amount of environmental fluctuations. 
        Not only is temperature damaging, sunlight or artificial light can be detrimental the color and canvas of a painting. Instead of placing your work of art directly in front of any light source, indirect light is the ideal lighting method, minimizing the damage while still allowing for optimal viewing.
Paintings, done on canvas or a flexible medium, typically require framing. Most commonly by stretching over stretcher bars which, unless you have experience in this area, is usually left to a professional—Since it is relatively easy to damage the painting without the proper knowledge and tools. A nice tool to help minimize environmental damage is to attach a backing board to the stretcher bars. This board covers the entire backside of the bars, which prevents any particles from touching the canvas. But again, just like the canvas stretching, this procedure is best left to a professional to avoid damage.  
         Handling and storage of fragile works of art is also an important factor. Before transporting a painting, moving any potential dangers can reduce the risk of damage.
When storing paintings, avoid places with large fluctuations in temperature or that have high humidity. This includes attics, basements, garages or anywhere where large amounts of sunlight are transmitted. 
         As a precaution, it is a good idea to have a high quality professional make a digital copy of your work of art and have a fine print made—assuring the digital scan is color matched and does not change the format. Keep your prints in an environment similar to where you would have your originals stored, with constant temperature and humidity, and covered by a pH neutral plastic cover. This will minimize any damage to the copy and increase its longevity.

Friday, March 21, 2014

PRESERVE YOUR MEMORIES: Properly Storing and Handling Photographs

Photos are often our way of remembering our happiest moments and significant life events. Taking the proper care of your photos can help you keep these for many years to come. As you may have read, earlier we released an article about properly caring for original photographs, now we will examine the procedures to properly care for your photographs. 

Choosing the Right Paper:

If you haven’t printed your photograph yet, printing on archival quality paper can help extend the life of your work of art. Archival paper, or museum grade paper has 6 characteristics: 

It is acid free with a pH value between 7.5 and 10
Has an alkali reserve of at least 2% carbonate
Resistant to tearing
Free of lignin
Made of cotton
High endurance to breakage by folding

These standards are set by ISO standard 11108 and help the consumer ascertain they are getting a product that can withstand significant handling and last longer then other papers. Unfortunately, this paper does cost more than traditional paper, which is an important factor to consider when printing. However, long-term, this is a better option if truly want to if extending the life of your work of art is a priority. 

2) Printing:

There is a significant difference in the quality of prints made by home printers and high quality commercial grade printers. If you want a professional quality print, then a minimum of 1200 dots per inch (dpi) is the required printing solution. Professional quality inkjet printers, such as those made by Epson and Canon, have the capability of creating color compositions and resolutions unmatched by home printers. These printing services are fairly inexpensive and do color work on the digital file as well as prior to printing. 

3) Display:

It is recommended that photographs are not displayed permanently or in direct sunlight. However, if this will be the case it is recommended to have copies made and displayed while storing the original. High quality copies are almost impossible to differentiate from the original and if they degrade, the original is still undamaged. If the original is to be displayed, it is recommended that exposure times be minimized and only indirect sunlight be present. Framing them with archival sound materials is the best way to prevent damage. 


Originals should be kept in locations that are free of debris, food, drinks, acids and other environmental factors, which could degrade the substrate or inks. Using paper enclosures that have passed the Photographic Activity Test, which determines if the paper is safe to use with silver photographic material, or plastic enclosures will isolate the photographs from the environment and keep them from degrading. Photos should be kept with a temperature of 68 degrees (F) and around 30-40% humidity. 

Digital Copies:

A digital copy of the original should be made in case something happens that would render it unusable to create further reproductions. Digital scans should be color matched and done by someone with industry experience. The file that you originally have should not be changed, if another format is required you should save an additional file with the secondary format. Having a high-resolution digital file lets you easily and cheaply make copies of the photograph as well. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How to Properly Illuminate Artwork

Light color imbalances may be highlighted differently depending on the light source and the wavelengths present. The only colors the human eye perceives are a product of the wavelength of light that a object reflects, blue at 400nm false on one end of the spectrim while red, at 700 nm falls on the opposite end, and all other colors fall somewhere between. Therefore, your goal should always be to show the colors present in the print as accurately as possible, so appropriate light source that includes wavelengths across the spectrum  should be an objective.  

Avoiding light from outside the spectrum is also another key factor in lighting. Infrared and ultraviolet light (light with wavelengths outside of the 400 to 700 nm range) is damaging to both the ink and substrate. The more direct exposure to the damaging rays, the quicker the print will degrade. One’s goal should be to minimize exposure of these rays by lighting a print as completely as possible with indirect light that has the least amount of harmful rays.



The diagrams display wavelengths of the most common light sources. The importance in accurately and consistently displaying colors is to have a constant spectral intensity in the wavelengths, so that one color does not appear brighter. If a light source lacks a 400 nm wavelength, then any of the blue colors that are comprised of that wavelength will not be visible. 

Xenon has the most wavelength consistency of any source and is therefore the best for lighting pictures; however, it is not a very common light source. A combination of halogen and tungsten bulbs is also a popular option. Light Emitting Diodes (LED) are also another option for lighting images, the majority of their light is centered in the 400-700 nm range. However, they do have variability in the strength of the light for each different wavelength.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Brief Introduction to Giclée Prints


The word giclée (pronounced zhee-clay) is surprisingly unfamiliar to customers and artists alike. Loosely interpreted, it means “that which is sprayed or squirted.” The term "giclee print" connotes an elevation in printmaking technology.  Images are generated from high resolution digital scans and printed with archival quality inks onto various substrates including canvas, fine art paper such as Velvet Rag, which is 100% cotton, and photo-based papers such as resin coated (RC) that are generally 10.4mil in thickness. The giclee printing process provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction.  In order to produce your own giclée prints, some initial investment in basic equipment is necessary. 


  • At a minimum, a computer that supports a Windows or Macintosh operating system compatible with Adobe Photoshop software. 
  •     Here, at our shop, we use Mac Pro's 1,1 with a 32-bit 2.66 GHz Dual-core Intel Xeon processor and 18 Gb's of ram along with a dozen or so other Macs and Windows machines.
Large format scanner
  • For small prints, where high resolution is not so critical, or if you just want a few copies and need to keep costs down, you can create a print using your own digital file or desktop scanner. Scan your image at as high a resolution as possible - for best results you'll want 300 dpi output at the size you want to print. If you use an existing digital file, keep in mind that re-sampling a lower resolution file seldom renders good results – the saying in the industry is, Garbage in, garbage out!” A common mistake is to think that scanning at 3,000dpi is plenty of resolution. What's important is size and resolution. If you have 3,000dpi at 1”x1,” you can only print a 10”x10” print at 300dpi. So, select 300dpi and the print dimensions to create the best scan.
  •       In our studio we use a “Better Light” scanning back on a 4x5 view camera along with infrared and a polarized filter and state-of-the-art, high-intensity discharge (HID) lights with polarized filters to create what is called “cross polarization” that greatly reduces glare or reflection.   
High-Quality printer
  • There are a bunch of mid to high quality printers available today from standard manufactures such at Epson and Cannon. Price ranges will run you somewhere between $500-$28,000 depending on quality and production needs. 
  • Our shop has utilized many printer models from both Cannon. Epson and Mimaki over the years.

Adobe Photoshop software
  • A essential graphics editing program developed and published by Adobe Systems. Unfortunately a rather expensive piece of software the latest version (CS6) costs $615.95.
  •     Over the years (and computers) we've ran many different versions of the software. Photoshop CS3 has been a very reliable version for us.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Effectiveness of Advertising With Different Substrates

        Reaching possible consumers is the goal of businesses if you can’t sell products you won’t make any money. For this reason, businesses are constantly on the search for cheaper and more effective ways of advertising to consumers. For short-term promotions or events, it doesn’t make sense to create a large scale, expensive 3-dimensional advertisement. Instead it is cheaper and quicker to create printed works on substrates such as scrim or removable vinyl. Both of these are specifically designed to give a template with an extremely wide color gamut and excellent environmental resistance. 

         Used as banners for events such as trade shows or sidewalk promotions for businesses, this is an extremely versatile substrate. It allows for easily customizable advertisements that are very easy to place. The time between the wanted print being submitted to the print shop and a finished print being created is less then a week. This short turn around time enables promotions to be easily altered depending on consumer tastes. Banners made from scrim are easily customizable, a new banner simply requires a tweak in the submitted file. This is perfect for events such as trade shows that print a different banner for each city, they can have all of them made at once and simply use the appropriate one. 
         The reason scrim is used so extensively for banners and displays are its high levels of environmental resistance. For such a material with its flexibility and color gamut, it is very rugged and is often rated at several months of outdoor exposure before it starts to degrade. This gives store owners who want a sidewalk display or a one time event the ability to leave their banner outside for long periods of time and reach as many consumers as possible. 

Removable Vinyl:
          Removable vinyl has two layers: the top vinyl portion, which has an adhesive on the back and the layer covering up the adhesive. It is perfect for applications such as displays in windows or stickers. Starting off a initially one piece substrate it can be printed on using traditional printing techniques and then applied to the particular substrate. 

         One important factor to consider is the texture of the applied surface. The more area that is adhered between the two surfaces equates to higher levels of strength. This is especially important to think about if it is to be displayed outdoors. The surface of most removable vinyl’s is designed to be resistant to damage by moisture and UV exposure, while providing a high quality surface to be printed on. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Which Bar is Right

        For those unfamiliar with stretching canvas prints and the appropriate sized bars, picking the right one may be a challenge. Picking the correct size bar relies on many factors: aesthetic appeal of the bars, required depth, final tension of the canvas, cost and many more. A comprehensive understanding of these factors is required in order to select the right bar.
        The bottom line is the obvious limiting factor of any operation and thicker bars cut more into your profit margin. Depending on the profit you are making from each stretched piece of canvas, a thicker bar might cut too far into your margins. Understanding the costs that you face and the margins you have can enable you to eliminate certain bars that are too costly.
        While the bar itself will not be seen by viewers, the depth of the bars affects the finished appearance of a stretched piece of canvas. Understanding the desired depth of the finished stretched piece on the wall is a critical limiting factor in the bars to choose. Certain artists necessitate a certain depth and this needs to be used. This may add extra cost but if it is part of the requirements then it has to be done.
        The main factor in selecting the appropriate thickness of the canvas is length versus applied tension. Larger prints will either need a cross bar or a thicker bar. Longer bars have less support in the center of the bar, as it gets older it is more and more likely to warp at these spots. To solve this you can either use thicker bars which have more stability or a cross brace. Cross braces are basically a bar that is put in the middle of the bars and this strengthens the bar. Longer bars can solve this problem simply by being stronger then thinner ones. Typically if anything is over 30”, light bars are insufficient without cross braces, over 40” medium bars need cross braces. With any very large prints, over 60”, cross braces are needed for even the largest bars. Basically the bar loses stability as it gets longer, adding a cross brace turns the bar in essence into half its size in terms of strength which is beneficial. 

        For example a framer making the decision to frame a 40”x50” canvas print would need to determine their desired profit margin which lets them know how much can be spent on the bars. The thickness of the bars is then determined, this is basically up to the artist, thicker bars give a more gallery feel while thinner ones are cheaper. The size of the frame is also a determining factor in the thickness. In a print this size, if thinner bars are used cross braces will be required. Anything up to medium/heavy duty, would require a cross brace and it would not be a bad idea for even heavy duty to have a cross brace in the 50” direction. Certain widths limit the use of thinner bars, thicker bars should be used in this scenario.