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

There are so many differences between fine art prints and canvas prints. So let’s look at each separately to see how different they truly are.

What Is a Fine Art Print?

A fine art print is a print that’s also an original work of art. In other words, fine art prints are handmade by the artist and often have original marks from the printer used.

Examples of fine art prints are those found on Etsy, including etchings, lithographs, and serigraphs.

Fine art prints are printed using different techniques and using different materials but they all have one thing in common; all fine art prints are considered handmade by the artist and they’re considered original works of art.

Basically, to make a fine art print, the artist must first draw, paint, or carve a printing surface. The printing surface can be a multitude of different materials, like stone (lithographs), screens (serigraphs, also knows as screenprints), and metal plates (etchings). When the ink or paint is transferred from that surface to a sheet of paper (or whatever material the artist chooses), the final product is called a fine art print.

Check out the links below for more details on how different types of fine art prints are made:

  • Etchings
  • Lithographs
  • Oleographs
  • Serigraphs
  • Monotypes

Art Print vs Fine 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).

If you were looking to compare art prints vs canvas prints and accidentally ended up here, you can check out my article: Art Print vs Canvas Print

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.

If you go to popular art sites such as iCanvas, Society6, Redbubble, and Minted, 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).

Product Video: Society6 Art Prints

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

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

Are Canvas Prints Better Than Fine Art Prints?

Typically, originals are more valuable than reproductions (copies) of original artwork.

So, yes, fine art prints are usually considered “better” than canvas prints when comparing their monetary value because fine art prints are considered original artwork and canvas prints are reproductions.

A fine art print is usually much more affordable than an original painting or sketch created by a well-known artist, but still has an air of exclusivity as the artwork is not mass-produced like canvas prints typically are.

Important factors that have the potential to increase the value of fine art prints are:

  • Has a limited quantity (limited edition)
  • Is numbered (another sign that it’s from a limited edition)
  • Is signed by the artist
  • Was hand-printed by the creator of the original artwork

Fine art prints usually keep or increase their value over time.

But what about canvas prints? Are they worth anything?

You actually might hear some people say that canvas prints aren’t valuable at all. But I totally disagree!

First of all, art is more than the monetary value associated with it. With a canvas print, you can express yourself or change the mood of any room. And canvas prints are much more budget-friendly than original works of art (just check out the prices at one of my favorite sites, iCanvas), so ANYONE can enjoy art at a fraction of the price!

Second, I think canvas prints are a worthy investment, especially if they are giclees and limited editions (like the prints you can buy on Minted or Saatchi Art).

A giclee is a reproduction (copy) of an original work of art or photograph.

Giclees are typically paper art prints or canvas prints that have been printed using an inkjet printer. But it’s important to note that not all inkjet prints are giclee prints.

Typically, giclee canvas prints follow these standards:

  • Inkjet Printer: Standard inkjet 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: The canvas used must be acid-free and of archival quality to ensure longevity.

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

Here are the top reasons why I think giclee canvas prints are valuable:

  1. Giclees have the support of fine art experts. They are collected and displayed by famous museums from around the world, like the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum.
  2. They are very accurate, archival prints. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to distinguish between giclees and the original artwork.
  3. It’s not uncommon for limited edition giclee canvas prints to go up in value because of their rarity and high quality. They also become more valuable as the artist becomes more well-known.

Do Canvas Prints Look Cheap?

Whether or not your canvas art will look cheap is all in the materials used and, of course, the skills of the artist or photographer who produced the artwork or image on the canvas.