Canvas vs Poster; What Is The Difference Between Them?

Canvas vs Poster; What Is The Difference Between Them?

There are many differences between posters and canvas prints. So let’s look at both of them separately.

What Is a Poster?

Posters prints are another kind of reproduction (a copy of an original work of art or photograph) and are one of the cheapest ways to decorate bare walls.

Posters are printed on all kinds of poster paper that differ in size and weight. But typically, posters are easily printed in bulk and use lower quality inks and paper compared to photographic prints. Posters are also usually printed on smooth semi-glossy or glossy paper.

Its lower standards of quality are what make posters much more affordable than photographic prints. But their lower standards in quality also limit their life span and careful attention to true color is usually not a top priority.

Today, when you go to popular sites like Society6 and Redbubble, you’ll quickly find that poster prints that are sold as artwork have more similarities than differences.

Although poster prints are considered to be of lesser quality than other types of prints, sites like Society6 and Redbubble have posters that are printed on high-quality, smooth gloss, or semi-gloss poster paper.

The weight for most poster paper is usually 120-140gsm* which is sturdy enough for temporary posters you would find nailed to a post outside, advertising a band’s gig or trying to find a missing pet. They can definitely handle a bit of wind and rain.

* GSM means grams per square meter and describes how heavy paper is.

However, posters that meant to be hung on your walls as art should usually be 185gsm in weight or more if they won’t be framed.

Society6 posters are around 271gsm and Redbubble posters are 185gsm in weight.

What Is a Canvas Print?

A canvas print 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.

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.

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

Product Video: Society6 Canvas Prints

Today, high-quality canvas prints are also considered to be giclee canvas prints.

Typically, giclee canvas prints follow these standards:

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

Basically, giclee prints are better than regular prints because the standards mentioned above are what make them high-quality prints that are very resistant to fading and yellowing.

Summary: What Is the Difference Between Canvas and Poster Paper?

The main difference that you’ll see between canvas and poster paper is the texture and thickness. Canvas prints will have a lot more texture and thickness compared to the smooth paper of a poster.

A canvas print will also typically be more high-quality and durable than a poster, especially if it’s a giclee canvas print.

Is Canvas or Poster Better?

Generally speaking, canvas works are typically worth more than those on paper and paintings are often at higher values than sketches or a print.

So, monetarily, canvas prints win over posters most of the time. However, there are always exceptions to every rule. A poster could be a highly valuable collector’s item (like a WWII propaganda poster) or could be signed by someone famous, etc.).

Are Canvas Photos Tacky?

We all know that it’s really a matter of personal taste when it comes to judging if canvas prints are tacky.


What does the general public think?

With 12 years of experience as both an artist and an art curator, I’ve heard A LOT of opinions on this subject. And, people’s opinions of canvas prints seem to be greatly influenced by two main things:

  1. The quality of the materials (canvas, inks, and stretcher bars)
  2. Whether the image on the canvas print is a photo or handmade artwork (like a painting, digital illustration, or sketch).

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 some really high-quality canvas prints that will impress almost anyone.

So, here are a few rules to follow:

  • Photographs, especially those that focus on people or animals, are best when printed on some kind of photo paper (Redbubble) or fine art paper and framed (Redbubble). 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 will usually not show the finer details and sharpness of an image compared to a photographic print.
  • 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. 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.

Can You Put a Poster on Canvas?

If you’re wondering if you can put a poster on a canvas, I’ll save you the trouble but saying these next 3 words…

Don’t do it.

A MUCH better way of displaying a poster (and what’s trending now) is to frame it.

If posters are framed properly with a contemporary poster frame, they can look amazing (my absolute favorite poster frame is this one on Amazon). Framing is my favorite thing for my vintage and propaganda poster collections. Plus, it extends the life of my posters!

If you’re really into the look of posters but you’re looking for a reproduction that will last a VERY long time, check out iCanvas’ framed prints of famous posters.

Cheapest Places to Buy Top-Quality Canvas Prints & Posters

When it comes to buying inexpensive, high-quality canvas prints, I really like iCanvas because the prices are just so amazing and it’s hard to beat their free shipping service in the United States. They also have high-quality canvas prints and framed art prints of famous posters!

If you’re looking to buy super inexpensive, unique posters or canvas prints directly from artists from around the world, I would definitely check out Etsy or Amazon Handmade. They’re also the perfect sites to find customizable prints for those who seem to have everything.

My other favorite places to get poster prints and canvas prints are Society6 and Redbubble. These companies are all known to be high-quality producers of thick poster prints that do not look cheap at all.

For your office or anybody looking to chase after their dreams, I would head over to Inktuitive for the best inspirational and motivational canvas prints online.

Another place I enjoy buying canvas prints is Minted. They’re a little more expensive, but the quality is excellent and all their prints are limited editions, which increases their value.