Printing Press: Canvas Wraps Turn Photos into Textured Art

Printing Press: Canvas Wraps Turn Photos into Textured Art

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Creative photographers have used digital technology to print images on canvas since the 1990s, incorporating the texture of the canvas weave to give photographs the look and feel of an oil painting. Over the last 10 to 15 years, canvas wraps have become a staple of professional photo labs and online printing services.

Each lab employs its own combination of paper, ink, printers as well as wrapping technique to produce a signature result. No matter the proprietary factors, canvas wraps are particularly well suited to include in wedding packages for add-on profits.

Canvas Printing

Originally made from the hemp plant, canvas is a “plain-woven” textile used to make strong, durable items like ship sails, tents and cloth surfaces for artists. Moreover, plain weave gets its strength from weaving the threads at 90º angles, instead of diagonally like the common twill weave. One of the earliest surviving oil paintings on canvas is the French Madonna with Angels; it dates as far back as 1410 and is a timely testament to the material’s longevity.

While a few specialty suppliers still sell hemp and linen art canvas, most photo labs use canvas made from a cotton/polyester blend. This combination is more economical and flexible than hemp. As a result, the substrate is more affordable and less prone to cracking and damage. Each element has its benefits. For example, ink tends to seep into cotton fibers, making it more durable and fade resistant. Color sits on the surface of synthetic strands, making polyester prints more vivid.

The Ink

There are several different types of ink used in canvas printing. The most common is aqueous pigment, a mixture of water and pigment. Pigment provides good image quality and lasts longer than aqueous dye inks.

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CG Pro Canvas Pro Wrap in Wood Floating Frame

Latex inks are even more durable and scratch resistant than aqueous pigment, but they are more commonly used for outdoor printing. The water-based ink is mixed with latex polymer dye and requires heat during the printing process to evaporate the water—leaving just the pigment and latex particles on the paper surface.

Solvent inks are pigmented inks. However, instead of being mixed with water, they use a chemical base. They’re water-fast and can be applied to a variety of materials, including canvas. However, they can also be harmful to your health and the environment. Solvents must be applied in a well-ventilated shop.

Eco-solvents are a more environmentally friendly option. While they lack the toxic chemicals found in solvent inks, the quality is slightly lower. Recent advancements in eco-solvent inks have started to bridge the gap between solvents’ and eco-solvents’ quality. These inks are not typically used for canvas wrap printing; however, Canvas and Paper Warehouse offers a line of canvases compatible with solvent printing.

In addition, canvas print quality is ultimately dependent on the printer. Inkjet models capable of printing on canvas are available in a wide range of sizes—from tabletop to stand-alone, large-format and industrial models. Canon, HP and Epson all manufacture printers used in canvas printing. Furthermore, each offers models that can handle canvases in multiple formats and sizes. Roland, Ricoh and other companies sell industrial-size and flatbed printers capable of producing oversized prints.

The Wrap

Most professional labs offer photo canvas wraps. While independent photographers and photo retailers can purchase the equipment necessary to print their own canvases, many elect to order their prints through labs and online suppliers. Each offers its own unique features and services.

Here are some resources wedding photographers can use to offer more options for their wedding packages.

Bay Photo

Headquartered in Scott’s Valley, California, Bay Photo offers two types of canvas gallery wraps. Its photographic canvas wraps are first printed on Kodak Endura silver-based photo paper. They are then bonded onto museum-quality canvas using high pressure and heat. The lab also applies glossy or lustre laminate after printing to protect the surface of the print.

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Bay Photo Fine Art Canvas Wrap

Fine art canvas wraps are printed directly onto museum-quality canvas using high-quality inkjet archival inks. An optional lustre or glossy finishing coating is applied after printing to protect the print’s surface.

In addition to canvas wraps, Bay Photo offers loose fine art giclée canvas prints on museum-quality canvas material. The lab uses high-quality 12-color archival inks to print on museum-quality canvas, with two inches of white space added to each side. Customers can choose a glossy or lustre laminate to protect the surface. The finished print is delivered unmounted and rolled. For information, visit bayphoto.com or visit their booth at WPPI.

White House Custom Colour

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this lab provides two levels of canvas printing: gallery wraps and premium gallery wraps. The basic gallery wraps are printed on fine art canvas paper, with no lamination or special mounting options. Each print is wrapped on 1.5-inch frames and finished with sawtooth hangers and corner bumpers.

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White House Custom Colour Premium Gallery Wrap

WHCC premium gallery wraps are stretched around heavier wooden bars and offered in two depths, 1.5 and 2.5 inches. Customers can choose from fine art canvas, lustre photo canvas or metallic photo canvas materials; they can also opt to add protective semigloss, high gloss or matte protective laminates. What’s more, unlike the basic gallery wrap, premium wraps are finished with a paper backing or wire hanger.

Their web address is whcc.com. White House Custom Color is also exhibiting at WPPI.

CG Pro Prints

This 10-year-old professional printing company in Longmont, Colorado, caters to professional photographers as well as artists and print resellers. The company specializes in hand-stretched canvas wraps in various formats and sizes. Their lineup includes Canvas Pro, Canvas Groupings, Canvas Standouts as well as mini canvas wraps. It’s also added other print mediums, including acrylic and brushed aluminum.

“We started with just canvas wraps,” says Megan Heaton Regalado, director of marketing at CG Pro. “Our goal was to make print sales more accessible for professional photographers and artists. We did this with a commitment to providing a high-quality product, while allowing our clients to offer a price point that boosted their bottom line.”

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CG Pro Canvas Pro Wrap

CG Pro’s most popular product is the Canvas Pro wrap, a stretched canvas wrap with a patented solid support face behind the print. It’s designed to prevent sagging or warping over time. “This unique support face keeps the canvas looking as tight and flat as the day it was made,” says Regalado. “A finished backing, hanging hardware and bumper corners also come standard.”

Its other popular products include two versions of canvas wraps designed to sit on a desk or table. Their mini canvas wrap is available in six sizes, from 4×6 to 8×10 inches; it’s printed on a fine-weave, high-resolution canvas that maintains maximum image detail. It comes with a detachable stand. Moreover, their easel-back canvas wraps come in four sizes, from 5×7 to 11×14 inches. It has the same quality as the Pro wrap, including the solid face and finished back.

“Easel-back canvas wraps are a popular and cost-effective product that many of our customers use as gifts for their clients,” says Regalado. “Mini canvas wraps are low-cost display solutions for weddings and other events.”

Additional CG Pro Wraps

The company also offers canvas wrap products ranging in size from 4×6 to 40×60 inches. The Pro is available in three wrap depths: 0.75-inch thin wrap; 1.5-inch thick wrap; and 2.5-inch chunk wrap. It also offers unstretched canvas prints and adhesive woven polyester wall peels, from 12×18 to 56×96 inches.

Visit the company’s website at cgproprints.com or visit their booth at WPPI.

CanvasPop

This high-end printing service is based in New York City and caters to a wide range of clients—from consumers, photographers and digital artists to interior designers. The company has printing and distribution facilities in the United States and United Kingdom. Moreover, it has several unique customer service features, including personal designers to help customers select their best printing options. CanvasPop also offers a digital proof for approval before printing, as well as its Pictureperfect image-editing technology to correct color, contrast, sharpness and other image variables.

Canvas wraps are printed on archival 20.5mil, bright-white poly-cotton matte canvas, using Canon professional inkjet equipment. The hand-stretched canvas is acid free, OBA free and treated with a neutral pH coating. In addition, after printing the canvas is coated with a protective, scratch-resistant UV laminate to protect it from damage and fading. CanvasPop estimates print longevity at more than 100 years.

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CanvasPop Triptych Canvas Wraps

The company offers wraps in a variety of formats and sizes. They include panorama, collage, triptych and canvas art prints up to 76×38 inches. Each canvas print is hand wrapped around 0.75- or 1.25-inch stretcher bars; the consumer has a choice of white, black or photo edges. Customers can also choose from several photo filters, such as black-and-white, oil painting and pop art, or they can add personalized word art. Filter effects are visible in the digital proof but not the preview.

What’s more, CanvasPop offers partnerships and alliances with charities, corporations and creative professionals, along with a CanvasPop affiliate program through ShareASale. Affiliates receive commissions, a newsletter, exclusive offers and an affiliate management team. For information on these programs and products, visit canvaspop.com.

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