Magazine Article


Top Coating Options for Canvas Fine Art & Photo Prints

house on canvas

street image on canvas

When choosing a canvas product for digital printing in today's fine art and photo market, the primary attribute that printers look for - and expect - is data on the archivability of the material they are selecting, and rightly so. Archivability of digital canvas prints is a critical factor that must be considered, as customers are paying hundreds - if not thousands of dollars - for a work of art that will become an heirloom to be displayed for generations. As a printer and an artist, you want to feel confident that you are offering customers just that.

In addition to considering the archivability of the canvas, another critical step is the finishing process. A piece of art is meant to be on display for a long period of time and as a result will naturally be exposed to elements such as light, fading, scratching, scuffing, smoke and more. To avoid this from happening, there are several top coating options in the marketplace that contain the protective attributes needed to minimize damage from the elements. Additionally, top coating a printed image allows the artist or printer to choose the finish of the print, ranging from matte, satin, semi-gloss and gloss.

There are several reputable top coat suppliers to choose from. Top coats can be solvent-based, for water sensitive inks and media types, or water-based. Both types are comparable in performance. Some of the critical attributes that are typically sought out in a top coat are: UV inhibitors, waterproof properties, and added flexibility for the stretching process. Like anything else, it is important to do thorough research before selecting a top coat as there are some that may falsely advertise the level of protection the top coat will provide.

With archivability being such a critical aspect of the finished print, the ideal option for printers would be to find a finished solution with documented archival data. This would include an identified canvas product and top coat laminate that have undergone testing by a reputable third-party resource, such as Wilhelm Imaging Research, to determine the combined product's archival rating. This is important because while the two products may have ratings independent of one another, once they are combined, those ratings may be compromised as an entirely new product has now been created.

Testing can ensure that the archivability data speaks to the finished solution. When working with a qualified canvas and top coat, the product will bear the expected results each and every time, thus allowing printers, artists and ultimately the customer to feel confident that their cherished masterpieces will last for generations and generations.

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Jennifer Chagnon is the product manager, Digital Imaging for InteliCoat Technologies. She has a strong background in commercialization of manufactured products, as well as experience in marketing and promoting consumer products. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, conventions, and trade shows.