A quickie post about choosing paper and the best paper for art prints! If you fancy watching the video instead though then check it out here :
The paper you choose for your prints is important and reflects the quality of print you are aiming for. There is a vast range of different paper types that you can choose from – starting with bog standard 80gsm printer paper (which I don’t recommend!) to high quality archival papers such as the Hahnemuhle Photograg 308 gsm, which is one of my personal favourites.
If you are not sure where to begin then a great place to start is to contact a paper supplier or printer as a lot of them sell very inexpensive (or free!) sample packs of the different papers that they supply or print on – check out this FREE one from Vistaprint or this one from Fine Art America. This is a great way to be able to compare different papers and check out what the printed result is likely to look like. The packs you get usually contain smooth poster papers, photo papers, archival textured papers and even canvas or board.
Thickness of paper is another aspect you need to consider. Paper weight, or effectively the thickness, is measured in GSM (grams per square metre) or LBS (pounds). The higher the GSM/LBS of the paper the heavier and therefore the thicker the paper is. Personally I prefer to use the GSM value and I wouldn’t print on paper below 200gsm as I like a thicker paper and a lot of archival papers tend to be between 200-300 gsm.
But you also need to consider what the maximum GSM your printer will allow. The maximum thickness on a lot of ‘normal’ home printers tends to be a lot lower than on professional printers (roughly 200gsm). This is especially true of laser printers – as far as I am aware there are only a few laser printers on the market that are able to cope with paper that is thicker than 200gsm.
I personally like to use fine art archival papers for prints of my watercolours and acrylic paintings and use smoother papers mainly for my digital designs. This is because I find that fine art papers have a bit of a tooth to them – much like watercolour paper – so they give my prints a little bit of texture. However these archival thicker papers tend to be quite expensive so you have to work that into the price of the prints you are selling.
When choosing the best paper for art prints another thing to consider is the finish of the paper. The paper you can print on can have a gloss finish, a satin finish or a matt finish. I personally prefer a matt finish as I don’t like the shine gloss and satin papers give off (as to my mind this actually detracts from the printed design) – but that is purely personal preference so it is completely up to you and what you prefer.
Lastly you need to check if the paper you are going to use is acid free and whether that is important to you. The lignin in found in normal paper deteriorates over time and causes the paper to become acidic and break down meaning that the paper will age and discolour. If you want your prints to last many years then you need to print your prints on acid free paper – fine art archival papers tend to be acid free. If you are planning on selling low cost prints then this might be less important.
Anyway I hope you’ve enjoyed this short blog post about paper choices and the best paper for art prints. You may also find my other post useful about printing and drop shipping.
Let me know if there is a specific topic you would like me to cover in these blog posts!