If you haven't coated your canvas prints, then you're not finished. Print finishing is the least understood and most overlooked step in the print-protection process. Because canvas prints are not typically "hidden" behind glass, a surface-finishing solution is critical for print longevity.
The canvas prints you receive from your lab most likely have been coated for their own protection. It is important for the photographer who is outputting his own canvas prints to care for them correctly.
Benefits of Coating
The high-quality papers and canvas used for inkjet printing have a receptive layer on the surface called a "micropore" layer. Micropore canvas has the advantage of being water-resistant and instant-drying, but to their disadvantage are the "pores." Think of this inkjet canvas surface as a sponge. Even if there is ink in the sponge, the sponge is still going to absorb any moisture that comes in contact with it. Also, the pores don't protect the ink from atmospheric contaminants such as ozone and other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Even with today's stable pigmented inks, the canvas surface is susceptible to these VOCs. To protect the image, the pores have to be sealed.
There are two methods of sealing the pores, thus the print: coatings and lamination. Lamination is suitable for signage, but it should never be used on a print with any expectation of image permanence. The adhesives used in laminating film are extremely detrimental to the media and inks. Even "archival" adhesives are not recommended for a printed surface. Lamination on canvas also leaves small air pockets, called silvering. Silvering is ugly and will detract from the look of the print.
So the only choice for protecting canvas prints is a protective coating. At PremierArt, we developed Eco Print Shield, a water-based protective coating designed specifically for inkjet canvas. This coating seals the pores to protect the ink and canvas surface, resulting in increased print life. Wilhelm Imaging Research has tested PremierArt's Eco Pint Shield, and their tests show that this product will actually extend the life of the canvas print.
PremierArt's Eco Print Shield is easily applied by rolling or spraying from an HVLP spray gun. This nonhazardous coating will waterproof the canvas; protect the print from light, ozone, and VOCs; is non-yellowing; and best of all, will not crack when stretched.
Besides being certified by Wilhelm, Eco Print Shield is also the recommended finishing solution by Epson and HP for their canvas prints.
Eco Print Shield is available in Gloss, Satin, and Matte surfaces.
Care of the Print
Now that we have properly coated the print, it will last for generations, right? This is a common misconception that we want to avoid. Otherwise, pieces will be coming back in five to 10 years for reprinting.
Placement of the print in the house or office is the single most important factor in keeping the print in its original condition. Many factors contribute to the fading of a piece of art, be it digital or traditional. The most common is light. If your client places the print on a wall across from a south-facing window in Phoenix, it will fade significantly faster than one across from a north-facing window. We need to let our clients know that this expensive piece of art should not be in direct sunlight ever!
Atmospheric contaminants such as ozone are emitted from TVs, CRTs, and copying machines. Over time, exposure to these contaminants will wear away at the protective coating, so these should be avoided as well. Even the high humidity found in kitchens and bathrooms should be avoided. The humidity will cause the growth of mold or other fungi.
We've put together a care list that our clients give to their customers to ensure the piece is properly cared for. Follow the display tips below to ensure your print's longevity.
1. As with all artwork, never expose the piece to direct sunlight.
2. Keep away from high-humidity environments such as kitchens and bathrooms.
3. Avoid displaying prints near air purifiers, heating and cooling ducts, TVs, CRT monitors, and photocopy machines.
4. Avoid exposure to harmful fumes such as smoke and aerosol chemicals and cleaning fluids.
This piece has been finished and framed according to industry archival specifications. Do not remove the artwork from the protective frame and backing. Doing so will compromise the integrity of the piece.
Caring for Fine-Art Prints
To dust, use a feather duster. To clean, use a soft damp cloth or sponge. Do not use any cleansing agents!
By following these simple steps, you can be assured your canvas print will last for generations.
For more information, go to www.premierart.info/getfinished.
Greg McCoy, VP of marketing for Premier Imaging Products, has more than 15 years' experience in inkjet media and coatings.