Wednesday, February 19, 2014

4 tips for buying canvas prints.

     If you have known me for any amount of time, you know I constantly preach about having a quality scan to produce quality canvas prints. This week I want to touch on a subject that separates the giclee industry into two categories:

1. Those who use the low priced canvas.
2. Those who use the best quality canvas. 

     This is a subject that shows up in just about every retail industry there is.
As we all know, you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, sometimes we pay a premium thinking we are getting better quality when in fact, the premium is just putting more money in the sellers pocket and you got a low quality product.
Here are a few tips to avoid getting burned when buying canvas prints either to re-sell or for personal use.

1. Ask the printer or seller what kind of canvas they use and whether it is 100% cotton or a poly/cotton blend or even linen. If they can't tell you exactly what brands they use and why, it is likely they are searching the market for the cheapest deal and using very low quality canvas that will easily rip and degrade quickly over time. Cheap canvas dries out very quickly and becomes brittle.

2. If the print has a satin or gloss finish, ask if the print was varnished after printing.  If the print was made with "gloss" canvas, you have found a printer that is cutting corners at the expense of quality.  I have not found a gloss canvas that you can't easily rub the print off with a moist finger.  Not good! If the print was varnished with a sprayer or coating machine, that is a good thing!

3. Ask if the print was printed on rolls or sheets. If it was printed on a sheet, you are dealing with an amateur who has not done their homework before starting their business. 

4. Lastly, ask for a sample print so you can see and feel the product before you buy.  If you get a small sample, test it. Good canvas will have nice dark blacks. Not a faded look. Rub it on the carpet a bit, wet your finger and rub it, does the ink come off or chip very easily? Try ripping the canvas or poking a pen through it. Good canvas will hold up. All giclees will eventually begin to chip on the edges if not framed, but a good print should hold up to a little light rubbing since it will need some dusting and maybe cleaned with a damp cloth at some point.

     In my experience about 80% of the giclee canvas out there is extremely low quality. Our business is constantly hounded by companies that tell us they can provide cheaper canvas with the same quality we currently use. I test them all.  In 15 years of printing on canvas, I have never found a stronger canvas with better print quality than Parrot Digigraphic canvas. There are a few others that are close but we have stuck with this brand and have always had great quality. 

Hope that helps! 


  1. Just a quick clarification. We use Parrot Digigraphic ultra white matte canvas. What makes their canvas high quality is the tight weave of the base. Cheaper canvases tend to have a looser weave or smaller "thread count".

  2. Good info for all artists that uses canvas.....thanks for the explanation!