Technical Talk

Canvas vs. Metal prints

  • January 11, 2023

All of my larger prints are archival giclées on canvas–both wraps and framed in Mahogany.  Printing photos on canvas has been common for more than a decade, and many people are familiar with it, but most may not realize the reasons it has taken over photographic printing.  The primary benefit is the elimination of glass, which eliminates the glare that has  plagued photography with muted colors and reflections since it’s inception.  When looking at a matted and framed photo, people move their heads back and forth to see around the reflections–we’ve done this our entire lives, so we are used to it and don’t even realize we do it.  In addition to creating glare that prevents viewing the entire image at once, glass requires matting to keep it off the print, which reduces the size of the image in the frame.  Canvas requires no glass, as it is coated with UV protective varnish, so it needs no matting, allowing a larger image in the same frame. With no glare muting the color they appear richer and more vibrant but very natural, and the entire image is visible from all comfortable angles. Additionally, the texture in canvas brings images to life–they look almost three dimensional, and they ‘feel’ much more real.

More recently, new formats for printing have hit the market–metal/aluminum prints being the most common, but also printing on glass and acrylic.  While these prints offer incredible vibrant color and sharpness, they bring back the very thing we’ve sought to eliminate from photographic prints–glare and reflections. In my experience, metal prints are less viewable than tradition prints framed behind glass–you can almost never see the whole image from one position.  In addition, while the texture of canvas brings images to life, the ultra smoothness of metal has the opposite effect–it makes them flat and lifeless.  Metal prints are very fragile, give an unnaturally vibrant and sharp image that can’t be seen entirely from one vantage point, and has no ‘feeling’.  They do have initial “wow” factor, but I believe that when the drawbacks of metal negatively affect enjoying the image as an art piece on the wall, this fades quickly.

I believe that my customers want to see the entire image they purchase, from everywhere in the room, and they appreciate the ‘feel’ canvas gives an image–making it seem real, so they feel like they are standing right there.  This creates a mood in the room, which is the reason people buy art.  For this reason, I offer my images on canvas.

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