Call it what you want. Wall art prints, landscape prints, home decor. There’s something quite absorbing about losing yourself in a high quality canvas print, or framed print. The subject matter can be anything you like. Abstract art, typographic prints, movie posters or a photograph of your favourite landscape or city.

Whats the difference between photo and canvas prints 1

As a photographer selling eye catching wall art prints or canvas prints on my online shop for 9 years, getting to grips with the terminology can be just as frustrating as choosing a focal point or feature framed print for your living room. I completely understand that there is a list of some many questions that you might have when it comes to purchasing those finishing touches to your room or DIY project. I’ll attempt to tackle some of these questions in this post.

So let’s go straight in at the obvious one.

What’s the difference between a photo canvas print or photo print?

Let’s break that down in what they actually are.

What’s a canvas print?

A photo canvas print is a giclee or digitally printed photograph onto a canvas material like the ones you would find artists using. This material can vary in quality or grades. Usually there are two types of canvas material to choose from. 100% cotton canvas or a cotton-effect polyester material.

Both options feature a white matte texture, but their distinctions arise from their specific uses. For example the cotton effect polyester canvas is perfect for creating a ‘stretched’ canvas print with a light texture. It is wrong, and relatively easy to stretch over a wooden or plastic frame without cracking on the edges.

Cracking occurs when the fibres of the materials break on folding so any ink applied with look like it has ‘cracked’.

The more expensive 100% cotton has more weight but can be less robust, requiring careful attention when creating the stretched canvas.

I’ve used the term stretched canvas a few times now. Basically, the wooden (or plastic) frame is built to size. The canvas material is then centred over the frame and folded over the edge.

Once the position if correct, the canvas is fastened to the frame along the top edge. Then this is pulled tight–or stretched–over the frame until the unsupported middle area is bouncy. It’s really important that the frames are made from good quality wood so they don’t bend and distort the print.

This kind of print usually hangs unframed on walls and are a popular wall decoration products for sale at home furnishings businesses like The Range, Next and Ikea as a cheaper way of providing easy to install art for your living room wall, or home office, for example.

Canvas prints tend to take image enlargements better than photo prints because the texture hides some of the image degradation. Canvas prints will fade over time–like photo prints if they are cheaper inkjet prints. If you want a reproduction of a piece of art or photo then you really need to spend a little more.

Available as canvas prints

A mirrored edge stretched canvas

So what is a photo print?

Like canvas prints, they are produced either by giclee or digitally printing a photograph onto the paper. There is a wide range of materials too, from glossy paper to a satin effect — or my preferred gallery archive paper that is very similar to a canvas material in terms of texture. All options take the ink exceptionally well, but you need to frame the print.

I print every photo print or canvas to order so they literally are replicas of my original images.

What’s Giclee Printing?

The term is French in origin and basically means ‘to spray’. Photographers use the term because it refers to the process and inkjet printer uses to create the prints.

But not all inkjet prints are giclee. There are many printers on the market, but if you want a Giclee print, they need to have been printed on a professional standard printer. This type of printer use pigment based inks, that when reproducing a piece of art or a high resolution photo they will recreate the full spectrum of colours, and capture every shade and detail.

Also, we would suggest that they should be printed on acid free archival paper to ensure longevity. In fact, if kept in a dark room they can last unto 200 years – or so that’s what they think… The printer and inks we use for both canvas prints and photo prints are pigment based and have a stunning life span–up to 40 years behind glass.

Available as framed prints

One of my Manchester Giclee prints framed in a black box frame

White frame corners

White frame example

Oak frame corner example

Oak frame corners

Where and how do you order canvas prints?

We sell canvas prints at two different sizes on mist of our products. 36 x 24 inch or 24 x 16 inch. Custom sizes can be order by getting in touch and can go as wide as 2 metres.

Ultimately it comes down to personal taste. We have a mix of framed wall pictures and canvases at home. Using them in the correct space should decide whether you opt for a canvas or framed photo print.

Picture Frames

Where you can frame a canvas (I personally don’t like them), you have to frame a photo print. They benefit of this does increase the life span, but in my option, if you pair the correct wood frame with the image, along with a mount, the image floats beautifully in a clean space, lifting it from the wall. Like our canvas prints, these come in standard sizes but custom sizes can be ordered.

For more information, check our our buyers guide here.

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