Art Print vs Canvas Print; What’s the Difference Between These Two Types of Wall Art?

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Art Print vs Canvas Print; What Is the Difference Between Them?

To really understand the difference between an art print and canvas print, let’s start by looking at each of them separately. Then, we’ll compare the two.

What Is an Art Print?

The term art print should not be confused with the term fine art print.

While a fine art print is considered original artwork, an art print is a commonly used term used to describe a type of reproduction (a copy of an original work of art).

Examples of reproductions are prints that can be mass-produced like posters (see examples on Society6), canvas prints, and art prints (video from Society6 below).

Product Video: Society6 Art Prints

If you go to popular art sites such as Society6 or Redbubble, you’ll quickly notice that what they call art print is artwork printed on medium-weight, cotton paper with a white border. It’s common for art prints to come with a white border around the artwork for framing, but it’s not a requirement.

Art prints can be easily mass-produced without the aid of the artist who created the original artwork and they’re typically printed on white, premium, cotton paper with high-quality inks. Usually, the paper used for an art print is matte and can be smooth or lightly textured.

What Is a Canvas Print?

A canvas print (Amazon) is an image printed (from a printer) on canvas material. Canvas prints look similar to oil and acrylic paintings because their surface has the same texture.

An example of what a stretched canvas typically looks like is in Society6‘s product video (below).

Product Video: Society6 Canvas Prints

Canvas prints are usually made from cotton, polyester, or linen (flax). But, some specialty fibers, such as hemp and jute, are also used for canvas surfaces.

Today, canvas prints are usually sold as some kind of stretched canvas print. This just means that the canvas has been pulled tightly over a wooden frame. The staples that hold the canvas to the wooden frame will either be on the sides or the back of the stretched canvas.

What Is the Difference Between an Art Print and a Canvas Print?

Click on the image to see details about Redbubble’ best-selling framed art print, “Morning Fox” by Holly Simental.

The main difference between an art print and a canvas print is the surface used for the print. An art print uses paper and a canvas print uses canvas as the print’s surface.

An art print will be thinner than a canvas print and looks better framed, and will have less texture than a canvas print. On the other hand, a stretched canvas print will look great framed or unframed.

Art prints and canvas prints are more similar than they are different.

Today, most high-quality art prints and canvas prints are giclees, which means that they are prints that have been printed using an inkjet printer.

Typically, giclees follow these standards:

  • Inkjet Printer: Standard inkjet prints are made using dye-based inks. Giclees are made using pigment-based inks (Amazon).
  • High Resolution and Color: They have the sharpest detail and highest resolution, displaying a full-color spectrum. Giclees capture every shade of an original work.
  • Archival Paper: The paper or surface used must be acid-free and of archival quality to ensure longevity.

The standards mentioned above are what make giclees high-quality art prints that are very resistant to fading and yellowing.

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Is a Canvas Print Better Than an Art Print?

One type of print is not better than the other, but if you have trouble deciding whether or not you want a canvas print or an art print, here are a few things to keep in mind…

Framed Art Prints: A Great Choice for All Artwork & Photos

In my opinion, and the opinion of many art buyers, art prints are a great choice no matter the subject of the art or photo. This is especially true if the print is sharp and placed in a high-quality frame.

So, if you’re unsure of whether or not you should buy a canvas print or an art print, you can’t go wrong with a framed art print. A frame will give it a nice finished look.

Matting and framing an art print doesn’t have to be expensive!

I do all my framing by buying inexpensive, high-quality frames on Amazon (some include matting with the frame).

Photographs: Art Print or Canvas?

Click on the image to see details about Society6’s best-selling framed art print, “Jazz Age Blond Sipping Champagne…” by Astrid Arkhangelsky.

When it comes to photography, especially close-ups of people or animals, the popular opinion seems to be that a framed art print is the best choice.

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 or fine art paper and framed. Usually, these types of photos were meant to have most of their details and some of their sharpness shared with the viewer.

The texture of a canvas usually won’t show the finer details and sharpness of an image compared to a photographic print.

On the other hand, I think that an artistic photograph of a landscape, a building, or nature 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 Artwork: Art Print or Canvas?

Click on the image to see details about Randy Hibberd’s canvas print, “Beach Days” on Amazon.

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. The texture of the canvas will make the print look much more like an original piece of art.

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.

Prints of Famous Paintings

Most of us don’t have millions of dollars to buy famous paintings from well-known artists, so canvas prints of famous paintings (Amazon) are a great alternative.

So, go ahead and buy art prints or canvas prints, support independent artists, and HAVE FUN shopping!