What’s the difference between photo and canvas prints?

canvas printing

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.

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 are basically a white matt material that is textured. The differences come from their use. 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 is heavier but can be less robust so care must be taken 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.

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 ever 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.

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.

Why should I order a framed photo print?

By having your print framed professionally will be much better protected than an off the shelf frame. Good quality framing will enhance, compliment and protect the print for the future.

Above are the three kinds of frame moulding  that we most commonly use but you can get in touch to request a custom frame or mount.

All prints are mounted using a front window mount cut from 1400 Micron Thick Snow White Smooth Conservation board.

The prices quoted below include the print, mount, frame The framed prints are only available to UK customers due to the high  costs of  shipping abroad and risk of breakages however we are happy to discuss this further if you have a special requirement.

Print size – 18 x 12 inch framed £95
Print size – 12 x 8 inch framed £80

Why are they so expensive?

Personally I don’t think they are expensive.

Ok, you can but a 1 metre square canvas print from Ikea from £30 but they won’t last. Trust me on this. A high quality giclee print–be it canvas or a photo print, which uses an archival paper or good quality canvas material are worth every penny.

They last longer. They hold the colour better and they capture every single detail on the image. If you are buying a framed piece of wall art, then the print will be placed inside a solid wooden matt white, black or oak frame, behind an acid free mount and glass. These are then sealed to prevent moisture buckling the paper.

And of course you are buying a reproduction of a photo that the photographer has taken time, experience and perseverance to capture.

Have a look at our online photo wall art shop here–we have over 400 images to choose from.

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