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Canvas vs Print (A Simple Comparison: The Difference Between Canvas Prints & Art Prints, & How To Choose Between Them)

Canvas vs Art Print (What’s the Difference?)

Looking to add some art to your walls, but don’t know where to start?

In this post, we take a look at the difference between canvas prints and art prints, and see how each one can add its own unique touch to your home or office.

First, let’s start by looking at each type of print separately. Then, we’ll compare the two.

What Do Art Prints Look Like?

First, 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 iCanvas, Society6, or Redbubble, you’ll quickly notice that what they call art print is artwork printed on a medium to heavy-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 Do Canvas Prints Look Like?

A canvas print is an image printed (from a printer) on canvas fabric. 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 fabric.

Today, canvas prints are usually sold as some kind of stretched canvas print (iCanvas). 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.

For more information on canvas prints, make sure to check out my post: What Is a Canvas Print?

What’s the Difference Between Art Prints & Canvas Prints?

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 such high-quality prints that are very resistant to fading and yellowing.

How To Choose Between Canvas Prints & Art Prints

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

Art prints are a great choice no matter the subject of the artwork or photo. This is especially true if the print is sharp and placed in a high-quality frame.

So, if you’re unsure whether you should choose a canvas print or an art print, you can’t go wrong with a framed 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 frames even include matting!

Photographs: Art Print or Canvas Print?

When it comes to photography, especially close-ups of people or animals (e.g. the best-selling Portrait Of a Highland Cow – iCanvas), 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 high-quality 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 an art 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 photo print of the Eiffel tower, an aerial view of a beach (iCanvas), or flowers can be a beautiful addition to your home or office. In most of these cases, the finer details do not seem to be missed at all.

Handmade Artwork: Art Print or Canvas 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 (iCanvas). 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.

Prints of Famous Paintings: Art Print or Canvas Print?

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

Overview: Art Print vs Canvas

When it comes to wall art, there are a few different types of prints that you might choose from. The two most common types of prints are art prints and canvas prints.

So, what’s the difference between them?

Art prints are made with inks printed on paper, while canvas prints are made with inks printed on canvas fabric. This means that art prints typically have a more delicate feel to them, while canvas prints have a more textured feel.

Another difference between the two types of prints is the way they’re framed. Art prints are typically framed in a simple wooden frame, while canvas prints are typically stretched over stretcher bars (Amazon) and displayed framed or unframed.

One advantage of canvas prints is that you’ll usually have a larger image of the artwork or photo. Art prints usually have matting or borders around the image, so there’s less space to display the image.

Finally, the price difference between art prints and canvas prints can be significant. Art prints tend to be cheaper than canvas prints because they’re less labor-intensive to produce.