All about Art Prints
What are art prints?
Art print is a special way of printing that makes it possible to faithfully reproduce a work of art. In contrast to colour printing, art print can create a wide range of colours and colour mixtures, even embossing and colours such as gold and silver are possible.
An art print should not be confused with a poster, because quality and durability are very different. A poster is usually printed in a very large number on cheap paper, a cheap price is more important than quality. For art prints, on the other hand, high-quality papers are used that are firm and often have structure. The colours can be coated and painted to stay beautiful for a long time. With the various papers, printing techniques, finishes, embossing and coatings, the possibilities in art print are almost endless. Since many people do not know the difference between an art print and a poster, the terms are often reversed.
An art print is usually framed or mounted on a stretcher as a canvas. The result is a mural that looks as similar as possible to the original and is used as a decoration.
What are art reproductions?
Art reproduction is a term for the printing process of art, and means "repeating" a work of art by printing. The product of an art reproduction is called an art copy. Art copies can only be created by artistic printing techniques (art printing techniques).
Artworks (paintings) are photographed and stored in the original by galleries and museums. Companies that want to reproduce these artworks must sign contracts to gain access to the footage.
The photograph of the original artwork must be edited before printing to ensure the print looks true to the original. Most of the images get a yellowish tint through the large format photography and a colour correction must be made. The image section and the sharpness of the picture can be falsified, often unsightly scratches and dust are to be seen, all of it is corrected by professional image editing and part of the art reproductions.
The history of art prints
The first type of art print was created in 1837 as a colourful type of lithography, called chromolithography. It was very time consuming and expensive.
In the 20th century, chromolithography was replaced by the light-printing process.
To produce light prints, glass or metal plates are wetted with a photosensitive emulsion. The emulsion is exposed and depending on the intensity of the light, a different amount of colour is created. Even halftones can be printed using the light printing process, but it is very expensive, each colour needs to be on a separate plate. Today light prints are no longer common.
In the 21st century, prints are mainly done with digital and offset printing. In the future they could be supplemented by 3-D printers.
Various art printing techniques
The digital printing process, also known as DDP (Direct Digital Printing), is fast and offers a favourable price-performance ratio even with small print volumes or individual prints. Laser or inkjet printers are used that receive data from a computer and produce prints in no time. It can be printed on various papers, canvases or glass.
The offset printing process is an indirect printing process because the printing plate and the print substrate (the material to be printed) do not come into contact. The ink is transferred from a paint roller to a blanket cylinder and then to the print carrier. Where no paint should settle, it is prevented by the use of water. The advantage is that no frayed edges are created. The downside is that no halftones can be generated.
The special feature of offset printing is that embossing can also be printed in the paper. For example, a frame around the artwork can be coined. The several levels create a three-dimensional effect. Gold and silver are another special feature of offset printing, because even these colours can be printed by embossing with (gold and silver) foils. So-called spot colours are also used. They complement the four basic colours (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) in the print head. Spot colours enable reproducing an original more accurately, because there is a much greater variety of a colour. The offset printing can be complemented by various coatings on the surface. Offset prints can be made into a canvas picture whit a special glue on technique. The offset printing process is versatile, it’s not only possible to print on different papers, also plastics, glass, cardboard, ceramics and sheets can be used as a pint substrate. This printing process is especially well suited for larger print volumes.
In the screen printing process, the ink is painted through a frame covered with a fine mesh fabric. Where no colour should be, it is prevented by an impermeable stencil. The process is versatile; it can be printed not only smooth surfaces, but also on shaped objects. An advantage is that the thickness of the colour layer can be varied flexibly due to the fineness of the stitches. If the stitches are very close to each other, little colour will pass through them, if the meshes are coarser and spread farther apart, the colour layer will be thicker.
Screen printing is time consuming. It is mainly used industrially in textile and ceramic printing.
Which art printing method should be used?
Depending on the desired result, different art printing methods are used.
If value for money and individual choice are particularly important, digital printing is a good choice.
A picture with very precise edges and embossing, should to be printed by offset printing.
If an art print should have several colour layers, it should be printed by screen printing.
Differences between printing papers
Printing papers vary in thickness, weight and have different structures. Depending on the used paper, a print can have very different effects. An art copy should look as similar as possible to the original work. It is important to use a paper that is similar to the original one. If, for example, a watercolour painting should be printed, handmade paper should be used, as originally. The quality of the art print can be greatly influenced by the choice of printing paper. Thicker papers are more robust and last longer than thinner ones.
Kunst-für-alle art prints
At kunst-für-alle you can order all kinds of art prints online. A large selection of different papers, selectable formats, special finishes and high-quality frames are available.