What Is an Art Print? (The Ultimate Guide to Printing, Framing, & Displaying Artwork With Art Prints)

Art prints are reproductions of artwork created using digital files made by a scanner or a digital camera and are printed on paper. Digital art prints are created using inkjet or laser printers, while giclée art prints are made using high-quality inkjet printers that use archival pigment-based inks.

What Are Art Prints?

Are you a non-artist interested in buying art, but unsure of what an “art print” really is?

Let me guide you through the world of mechanical printing on paper. Discover the different types of art prints available, the process behind their creation, and how to select the perfect one for your home or office.

By the end of this post, you’ll be an art print expert!

Types of Art Prints

If you go to popular sites that sell wall art such as Society6, or Redbubble, or iCanvas, 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.

An example of what most people call art print is in Society6’s product video (below).

What Are Art Prints? | Product Video: Society6’s Art Prints

I’ve come across two types of art prints that are widely available: digital prints and giclée prints. Each has its unique characteristics, and understanding the differences between them can help you decide which one suits your needs.

Digital Prints

Digital prints are created using a digital file made by a scanner or a digital camera. They’re printed using inkjet or laser printers, making them cost-effective for mass production. This method captures an extensive range of colors and details, making them a great option for reproducing photos and artworks with intricate details. However, digital prints are often produced on less expensive paper, which can impact their longevity.

Giclée Prints

On the other hand, giclée prints are made using high-quality inkjet printers that use archival pigment-based inks. This technique produces high-resolution images with vibrant colors and deep blacks, making them ideal for reproducing art prints. They’re produced on high-quality paper that’s designed to last for years, making them a valuable investment for collectors and art enthusiasts.

Choosing the Best Type for You

When it comes to deciding which type of art print is right for you, it boils down to your preferences and needs. If you’re looking for a cost-effective option for reproducing intricate photos or artworks, digital prints are the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a print that will last for years and retain its value, giclée prints are a better choice.

Printing Process

The art of printing is a fascinating process that involves using technology to transfer digital images onto paper or other materials. In this section, I’ll discuss the two main types of printers used for printing art prints: digital printers and giclée printers. I’ll also take you through the steps involved in creating an art print.

Digital Printers:

The most common type of printer used for printing art prints is the digital printer. These printers are affordable, user-friendly, and produce high-quality prints. Tiny droplets of ink are sprayed onto paper to create the image. The quality of the print depends on the resolution of the printer and the quality of the ink used. Digital printers can produce prints in various sizes.

Giclée Printers:

Giclée printers are an expensive option, but they produce some of the highest quality prints available. These printers use a combination of inkjet technology and fine art paper to create prints that are almost identical to the original artwork. Artists who want to reproduce their work in limited editions often choose giclée printers because the prints produced are considered of high value.

Steps Involved in Creating an Art Print:

The process of creating an art print involves the following steps:

  1. Image preparation: Preparing the image to be printed is the first step in creating an art print. The image should be the correct size and resolution for the printer being used.
  2. Printing: Once the image is ready, it can be sent to the printer. The printer will use its technology to transfer the image onto paper.
  3. Drying: After the print is created, it needs to dry completely. The length of time this takes depends on the ink and material used.
  4. Finishing: Once the print is dry, it can be finished with a protective coating or framed for display.

The printing process is essential to creating an art print that is high-quality and long-lasting. By using the right type of printer and following the correct steps, artists and printmakers can produce prints that are beautiful and valuable.

Fine Art Prints vs Art Prints

The transfer/printing process plays an important role in distinguishing between fine art prints and art prints.

In the case of fine art prints, the printing process involves the artist’s direct involvement in the printmaking process (e.g. screen printing). This means that the artist creates a master image (a.k.a. matrix master image) from which multiple copies can be made. The master image is then transferred onto a surface (such as a fine art paper) through a variety of techniques.

Each print in the fine art print series is then individually handcrafted, which means that each print is unique and may vary slightly from the others. This makes each print an original work of art in its own right.

In contrast, the transfer/printing process used to create art prints is typically done through mechanical reproduction. This involves using a high-quality digital image of the original artwork to produce multiple copies of the image with a printer. Because the artist is not directly involved in this printing process, art prints are not considered original works of art.

Overall, the transfer process is an important factor to consider when distinguishing between fine art prints and art prints. While both types of prints are reproductions of original artwork, the level of involvement by the artist in the transfer process can determine whether the print is considered an original work of art or not.

Paper Types

Choosing the right paper is just as vital as the printing process itself when it comes to creating art prints. With a plethora of paper options available, each with its own unique properties, it’s essential to understand the differences and make an informed choice.

  • Matte paper: This is one of the most popular paper types for art prints, has a smooth texture and non-reflective surface, perfect for fine details and deep colors. Its ability to resist smudging and fingerprints makes it ideal for frequently handled and displayed prints.
  • Glossy paper: On the other hand, glossy paper’s shiny and reflective surface can make colors appear more vibrant and saturated. Though it may not be suitable for art prints with fine details or texture, it’s great for high-contrast prints with bright colors.
  • Fine Art Paper: Fine art paper is a heavyweight, luxury paper specifically crafted for art prints. Typically made from 100% cotton, it has a distinctive texture and is ideal for reproducing artwork with plenty of texture and depth.
  • Satin, semi-gloss, & metallic paper: These other paper types often used for art prints. Satin paper has a slightly reflective surface and a smooth texture, while semi-gloss has a more noticeable sheen. Metallic paper has a glossy surface and a metallic finish, creating a unique and striking effect on art prints.

When selecting a paper type, the intended use and desired outcome must be considered. Each paper type has its own unique characteristics and qualities, so experimenting with different options is worth the effort to find the perfect fit for a particular artwork.

Image Quality

Creating a beautiful art print is an art in itself, and the image you choose is critical to its success. As someone who has experience in printing, I can attest that image quality is key to making your print look amazing. You want an image that is high resolution and suitable for printing, which means it needs to have enough pixels to produce a clear and detailed image at the desired print size.

The resolution of an image is determined by the number of pixels it contains, and the more pixels there are, the better the image quality will be. A high-resolution image will be more vibrant and detailed than a low-resolution one, so it’s worth investing in a quality image. Keep in mind that you can’t improve the quality of a low-resolution image by increasing its resolution, so choose wisely!

Image quality also plays a significant role in the final product. A high-quality image will produce a sharp and vibrant print that captures all the details of your artwork. On the other hand, a low-quality image will produce a blurry and lackluster print that fails to do your artwork justice.

However, file size can become an issue when printing, especially if the file is too large. Larger file sizes may take longer to upload and process, and may even cause printing issues. It’s important to find a balance between image quality and file size to ensure a smooth and hassle-free printing process.

Overall, choosing an image with high resolution and image quality is crucial to creating a stunning art print. A quality image will produce a print that accurately reflects your artwork and meets your expectations. By paying attention to these factors, you can create a print that is sure to impress.

Sizing & Framing

When it comes to art prints, size and framing are essential considerations to make. Art prints come in a range of sizes to accommodate different spaces and preferences. From 5×7 to 24×36, standard sizes are available, but custom sizes can also be created to fit specific dimensions or requirements.

Not only do frames protect prints from damage, but they also complement their aesthetic appeal. Choosing the right frame can make all the difference in the overall presentation of the artwork, while a poorly selected frame can diminish the print’s impact. When selecting a frame, I take into consideration the artwork style, the decor of the space it will be displayed in, and the desired look and feel.

Different framing options are available, including traditional wooden frames, sleek metal frames, and even frameless options such as canvas wraps or float-mounted prints. Each option has its unique appearance and can create a different effect on the final product.

Buying Art Prints Online

Purchasing art prints online has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s easy to see why – buying art prints online offers a range of benefits, such as convenience, variety, and affordability.

The convenience of buying art prints online cannot be overstated. With just a few clicks, you can browse through an extensive collection of prints and have them delivered right to your doorstep. This saves time and effort, compared to visiting physical galleries or stores.

In addition to convenience, buying art prints online provides access to a vast selection of prints from various artists, styles, and genres. This makes it easier to find prints that match your personal taste and discover new artists that you may not have known about otherwise.

Another advantage of buying art prints online is that it can be more affordable than purchasing them from a traditional art gallery or store. Many online marketplaces offer competitive prices, and you can easily compare prices and options from different sellers.

When it comes to buying art prints online, there are several reputable platforms to choose from, including Society6, Redbubble, and Etsy. These marketplaces offer a wide range of art prints in different sizes, framing options, and paper types. They also provide customer reviews and ratings, making it easier to find reliable sellers and high-quality prints.

However, it’s crucial to do your research when buying art prints online to ensure that you’re purchasing from a trustworthy and reputable seller. Read reviews and ratings from previous customers, check the return policy and shipping details, and verify the authenticity and quality of the print.

All in all, buying art prints online can be a fantastic way to add unique and beautiful artwork to your home or office decor. With so many options available, you’re sure to find the perfect print that fits your style and budget.

Conclusion: Choosing the Right Art Print

To sum up, art prints are high-quality reproductions of original artwork that are accessible to a wider audience. They are produced using digital printing techniques and high-quality paper, with giclée prints being the most popular due to their archival quality. The transfer process used in creating art prints distinguishes them from fine art prints, as the artist is not directly involved in the printing process.

When choosing the right art print, it’s important to consider the type of paper used, the printing techniques used, and whether the print is a limited or open edition. Limited edition prints are often more valuable, as they are produced in smaller quantities and are numbered and signed by the artist. It’s also important to consider whether you want a reproduction of an original work of art or a poster, as posters are less expensive but also of lower quality.

Ultimately, the choice of art print comes down to personal preference and budget. With the right considerations and knowledge, you can find an art print that is not only visually appealing but also of high quality and value.