By Jeff Leagon
One of the earliest adaptations of digital printing technology to fabric was in fine art reproduction. Through digital inkjet printing, artists that create their original paintings on canvas were enabled to make reproductions, which were also on canvas. Making canvas art prints was possible earlier on with offset litho printing, but unless the artist or publisher could commit to at least 1,000 copies, the litho process really wasn’t an option.
The development of the digital inkjet printing process and specially engineered canvas to go with it allowed the reproductions to be made on an on-demand basis. This not only eliminated the need for a big up-front investment but it also meant that the smaller number of prints in a limited edition had a higher value. Today, digital fine art reproduction is a big business, and some reproductions on canvas command prices into the thousands of dollars.
As digital printing technology has evolved and progressed, so has digitally printable canvas itself. Since most of the true, fine art printing is still being done with aqueous inkjet systems, the fine art canvas products made for that end use are highly engineered and precision top-coated media. However, for solvent or UV-digital printing, there is a much wider range of canvas products available, and the prices are much lower than those charged for fine art canvas. Aurora Specialty Textiles Group produces an extensive line of printable canvas with different levels of flexibility, gloss, surface texture and white point in widths ranging from 36 inches to 120 inches. With products like these, print service providers can offer their services to a wider range of prospective clients and offer existing clients new media options.
Finished graphics, such as in-store signage, posters and retractable banners, have a higher value (perceived and real) when printed on canvas instead of paper or vinyl. Also, with canvas media options, print service providers with wide-format and grand-format capability can offer finished products, such as printed wall coverings, murals and wall décor for which canvas is the natural choice.
Many times the image to be printed will dictate the best-suited medium. For example, images with antique or historical flavor, such as maps, old photos or portraits, are especially well suited for canvas. For hundreds of years canvas has been the preferred medium for artists because it’s flexible, durable, portable, readily available and cost effective. Some things never change.