Canvas Printing

Copyright 2006 Peter Horner

Canvas is the most popular of all art media. Fine art reproductions, contemporary art, abstract art, original paintings and digital photos can be turned into canvas prints.

Printing on fine art materials such as canvas and watercolour papers is often referred to as Giclee. The French term “Giclée” (pronounced zhee-clay) means to spray or squirt, which is how an inkjet printer works. However, it is not the same as a standard desktop inkjet printer, and is much larger at over a meter wide.

Canvas prints created using the giclee printing process provide better colour accuracy than other means of reproduction to satisfy the uncompromising print quality pursued by the worlds leading artists and photographers in creating masterpieces. Prints are created using professional 8 or 12 colour ink-jet printers made by manufactures such as Epson and Hewlett-Packard. Special light-fast inks are used, which will remain true for up to 75 years. These printers are capable of producing incredibly detailed prints for both the fine art and photographic markets. Using rolls of canvas, printers can produce prints up to 44” in width and unlimited length. Even artists can have a hard time telling the original from the copy when printed at a high resolution of 2880 dpi.

Canvas printing offer artists and photographers many advantages. If you’re an artist you’ll put a lot of time and effort into a painting and experience joy selling it, but when it’s sold you have to start all over again. Digitally archiving images allows artists to sell images over and over again, at a reduced price and share art works with many people. Digitally archiving images will also means that your originals will not deteriorate in quality as films and negatives do. Giclee printing has also become popular with photographers who are applying their pictures to stretched canvas and other digital art papers to give images a whole new quality. Photographers find the soft, painterly quality of giclee printed photographs on canvas to be very appealing. Subtle colours and details in photos can be reproduced without losing them as you would with traditional photographic glossy prints. Digital images can also be reproduced to any size and onto other forms of media using giclee printing.

Significant advances in giclee inks have resulted in prints with broader, more saturated colour ranges and longevity. Epson are one manufacturer of giclee inks who make light fastness claims that their UltraChrome pigment based inks last in excess of 75 years. Epson’s pigment based inks use eight individual colours, including black (photo or matte), light black, cyan, light cyan, magenta, light magenta, and yellow. A common misconception is that all inkjet inks are archival inks. Pigment-based inks last a lot longer than dye-based. Even special UV stable dye inks used for fine art may fade as quickly as 13 years. Under the right conditions new dye-based inks on the market may last as long as 60 years, but there is significant loss of colour range and they only provide longevity on certain print medias. There are reputable companies offering art reproduction using inks that will fade in as little as a year, and unfortunately some of these printers don’t inform their customers. Its important that consumers have all the information they can get, so that artists and photographers can make an intelligent and informed decision, and can be sure prints will last.