The right printing solution can be the difference between a ho-hum image and one that does your photography skills justice. Although both canvas and acrylic prints offer interesting and potentially captivating ways to display your pictures, they are vastly different in many ways. It’s important to know what outcome each type of print will offer so that your end result is one in which you will be proud to hang or to offer to the public. We’ve broken down various pros and cons of each option for you.
What is an acrylic photo print?
Acrylic photo prints are also referred to as Lucite, Perspex or Plexiglass (although these are just various name brands of acrylic.) Prints can be achieved in one of two ways; either by direct printing onto the desired material, or putting the print onto paper first and then face mounting onto the acrylic surface. The face mounting process is more expensive (as it’s more difficult to achieve than direct printing) but most customers who use this process faithfully consider it well worth the increased cost, as it offers greater colour vibrancy. The face mount process means that the finished print retains the best of both printing on paper (colours do tend to look better when printed on white water of high quality) and the reflective quality that acrylic delivers. Often viewers compare the vibrancy with this type of print to a 3D effect.
What is a canvas print?
Canvas printing is not a new technology, although the method by which it is achieved has changed and modernized. It was first done by using an offset printing process, but now the majority of canvas prints are achieved through the use of dye sublimination or inkjet printers. A canvas gallery wrap has become one of the most popular ways to display photos, partly because it’s a reasonably priced process and because it can give the image the look of an old fashioned oil painting. A canvas print avoids the need for a frame and also for any photo mounting. The canvas image simply wraps around a frame and can easily be hung. They’re lightweight and versatile and can be found in both homes and businesses, although a canvas print won’t offer the same high resolution or vibrancy that an acrylic print can.
Part of your decision as to whether acrylic printing (face mount or direct) or canvas printing is your best option is entirely up to your preference. Acrylic looks more sleek and modern, whereas canvas can offer an old world and romantic feel. The mood you’re trying to capture with your photos will be best represented by one or the other. There are other deciding factors that you should consider before you make your final choice.
Which print is more durable?
When it comes to durability, acrylic is the clear winner. The acrylic surface provides moisture, UV and dust protection from getting to your print, whether you’ve decided on direct mount or the face mount method. (The moisture protection is a bit less with a face mount option). Although you can have your canvas wrap protected with a post print varnish, it doesn’t offer the same coverage that acrylic will. When it comes to accidents, a canvas wrap, if dropped, will most often survive unharmed due to its light weight. An acrylic print usually offers shatter free protection, but it can most certainly chip or crack if dropped, most often at the corners. Both prints are susceptible to scratches, although if your print is hung high enough, it should typically spend most of its life out of harm’s way anyway.
Which process offers a more unique end result?
Take a look around at other displays and wander through your local art galleries. What do you see? Possibly because canvas is more financially feasible, it’s a popular choice, and so are traditionally framed prints, but when you do come across an acrylic mount, it stands out. Many people have heard of acrylic mounts, but many have likely not heard of the acrylic face mount, although it is certainly growing in popularity.
Which offers a nicer appearance?
This is largely a personal choice; however there are certain specific features to take into account. If you’re looking for vibrancy, acrylic is of course the hands down winner. The acrylic mount gives your print a more modern look that can compliment a more modern decor in a home or business setting. If, however, you’re seeking an intentionally slightly grainy appearance for a more old fashioned appearance, canvas is clearly your better option. If you’re decorating an historic building, a log cabin or a rustic retreat, for example, canvas prints can seem right at home.
Which print will transport more easily?
This may or may not be an issue for you; if you move around a lot and treasure your artistic pieces, however, you’ll want to know which ones are more likely to make it to each subsequent destination fully intact. Although we wouldn’t exactly call acrylic prints delicate, the light weight feature of a canvas makes it super easy to wrap and pack around. It’s easier and cheaper to ship as well.
Which type of print is more affordable?
For financial feasibility, canvas is absolutely the best choice. Those on a budget or with a lot of walls to cover with their favourite pieces of art will likely have better affordability with a canvas print option. It’s cheaper than both acrylic and also more traditionally framing options. Due to the easy accessibility of canvas printers (even many big box stores have their own canvas printing departments) you can usually find a great competitive price. In fact, if you keep your eyes peeled, or take a look through the fliers that so often overwhelm your mailbox, you will often see sales with huge discounts.
No matter which printing option you like best, the most important thing is that it provides your chosen artwork with the finish that it deserves.
Credit to Lamin-8 – Acrylic Printing Toronto