Are Canvas Prints, Canvas Photos, and Art Prints Tacky? (2019)

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It’s a matter of personal taste when it comes to judging if canvas prints, canvas photos, and art prints are tacky. With 12 years of experience as both an artist and art curator, I’ve heard a lot of opinions on this subject.

So, in this post, I’m going to talk about what I’ve been hearing art buyers say about prints throughout my art career.


  1. Are Canvas Prints Tacky?
  2. Are Canvas Photos Tacky?
  3. Handmade Art Printed on Canvas
  4. Are Art Prints Tacky?
  5. My Favorite Sites to Buy Canvas or Framed Art Prints

Are Canvas Prints Tacky?

Framed Print - Two Step by Marc Allante, available on iCanvas.
Two Step by Marc Allante (Available at iCanvas)

People’s opinions of canvas prints seem to be greatly influenced by two main things:

  1. The quality of the canvas and of the print work itself (including the inks used).
  2. Whether the print is of a photograph or a handmade piece of art (including paintings, digital illustrations, and sketches).

If you’re like me, you’ve seen some really low quality, washed-out, floppy canvas art prints in stores before.

In my opinion, those are tacky.

But then, on the other side of the spectrum, there are really high-quality canvas prints that will impress almost anyone.

Last fall, I remember going to my friend’s house and I saw three new pieces of artwork on her wall. I had to get really close just to see if these were prints or original paintings.

These canvas prints were from iCanvas, an e-commerce site that sells affordable canvas and framed art prints. They were beautiful and really made her living room cozy.

And they were the opposite of tacky.

Are Canvas Photos Tacky?

President John F. Kennedy Sitting On An Airplane by Globe Photos, Inc. Available at iCanvas.
President John F. Kennedy Sitting On An Airplane by Globe Photos, Inc. (Available on iCanvas)

When it comes to photography, especially close-ups of people or animals, the popular opinion seems to be that canvas prints are often tacky.

And I have to admit that, for some reason, just the thought of a family portrait printed on a canvas makes me cringe.

Overall, I think it’s a good rule of thumb that photographs, especially those that focus on people or animals, are best when printed on some kind of photographic paper and framed.

Usually, these type of photos were meant to have most of its details and some of its sharpness shared with the viewer.

Canvas art print titled: From Paris with Love by Chelsea Victoria. Available at iCanvas.
From Paris with Love by Chelsea Victoria (Available at iCanvas)

The texture of a canvas will usually not show the finer details and sharpness of an image compared to a photographic print.

On the other hand, I think that an artistic photograph can look great on canvas. For example, a canvas print of the Eiffel tower, a calming beach scene, or flowers can be a beautiful addition to your home or office. In most of these cases, the details do not seem to be missed at all.

Handmade Art Printed on Canvas

I think that canvas prints are best when the printed image is of a handmade piece of art like a painting, a sketch, or a digital illustration.

Canvas prints are great for those of us who are on a tight budget because they usually cost much less than original paintings or traditional framed prints.

The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum (Café Terrace at Night), 1888 by Vincent van Gogh. Available at iCanvas.
The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum (Café Terrace at Night), 1888 by Vincent van Gogh (Available at iCanvas)

Most of us don’t have millions of dollars to buy a Vincent van Gogh painting, so a canvas print of his work (iCanvas) is a great alternative.

And if it was stretched and framed correctly, and the colors are true to the original painting, a canvas print can really add style to your walls.

The best part about canvas prints?

They won’t show any glare and reflection like most framed prints do.

My Favorite Sites to Buy Canvas or Framed Art Prints

If you’re interested in buying canvas prints or framed art prints, my favorite stores are iCanvas, Redbubble, and Society6.

ICanvas has thousands of curated, high-quality canvas prints and framed art prints. They also offer 3-piece split canvas prints.

Redbubble and Society6 offer prints, and other items, from artists worldwide. You can really find unique artwork on these sites and it’s a great way to support both emerging and well-known artists.