Buying Art Online: Photo or Fine Art Paper? Canvas, Acrylic Glass or Metal Prints?

I know buying art online can be difficult, and having lots of different print options to choose from doesn’t make things any easier. To help sort things out, here are some facts about each of the print surfaces that I offer:

Matte Cotton Rag Paper: My #1 choice for my fine art images

My favorite paper for every image. The fine art paper I use is a heavyweight 100% acid free archival cotton rag that has a matte, smooth surface without reflections and glare. Images printed on this paper are slightly subdued, but still have brilliant colors, deep blacks, contrast, and perfect reproduction of details. The look and feel of this paper is artistic and luxurious. The cotton rag paper is perfect when you want a classic fine art look.

Matte Photographic Paper: What I use for my travel art prints

Photographic paper is a slightly less expensive, but still great, paper option. The paper I use for my travel photography prints is professional grade, has a smooth matte surface, and is a little bit lighter and brighter than the cotton rag paper. This results in strong, bright, vibrant prints with crisp, rich colors and depth. The look and feel of this paper is that of a high-end photographic print.

Canvas Gallery Wraps: Traditional with more muted colors

Canvas wraps are lightweight, easily portable and an economical alternative to traditional framed prints.

My canvas wraps are created by printing the photo directly onto museum-quality canvas with premium archival inks. The full image appears on the front; the portion of the image that wraps around the sides is mirrored from the original so that there is no need to crop the image or have a solid color on the sides. The print is then hand stretched and wrapped around a 1.5 inch wooden artist’s stretcher frame.

The surface of canvas prints have a classic canvas texture, and the images come out more muted and subtly colored than on any of the other options here. They are made with archival materials, and when stored and displayed properly (i.e. not in direct sunlight), they last a minimum of 80 years without any visible fading.

Buying Art Online: Canvas print by Cattie Coyle Photography

Metal Prints: Perfect for outdoor areas

Metal prints are created by infusing dyes directly into a specially coated aluminum sheet, resulting in vivid, luminous images with brilliant colors and clarity.

Because the image is infused and permanently bonded to the surface, metal prints are very durable, with an ultra-hard scratch-resistant glossy surface. They are also thin, lightweight, and easy to clean. The estimated lifespan of metal prints is 2-4 times that of silver-based paper prints, displayed or stored in the same conditions. Archival paper prints are rated at 100+ years when stored in good conditions, so these prints can last for several generations.

Bying Art Online: Metal print by Cattie Coyle Photography

Metal prints are great when you want a frameless, modern look, and because they are weather and water resistant, they are a perfect choice for bathrooms, kitchens and sheltered outdoor areas (but avoid hanging them in direct sunlight outdoors).

I like most of my images on metal, but I think the ones that really stand out on metal are the more dramatic and “lively” ones, like the Cloud series or the “active” surfing prints.

Acrylic Glass Prints: A contemporary vivid pop of color

Acrylic prints are light, shatterproof and resistant to UV light and temperature fluctuations. Acrylic (a.k.a. plexiglass) is unique in that light refracts within it (instead of passing through as it does with glass), resulting in an almost backlit appearance with the right light, and the polished edges give the image an almost 3D look.

There are a few different ways to create acrylic prints; mine are face mounted, meaning they are created by mounting a print between acrylic glass and aluminum DiBond (a rigid plastic core surrounded by two thin sheets of aluminum, very sturdy but still lightweight). The face mount is a more difficult process, but well worth it – the result is a clean, borderless and really vivid, vibrant image with rich colors and depth.

Buying Art Online: Acrylic glass print by Cattie Coyle Photography

My acrylic prints have 1/4” thick glass and come ready to hang with wall mounts installed on the back. They are professionally handmade in the US, gallery quality, and built to last a lifetime.

Acrylic glass prints are great when you want a sleek, modern, upscale look with wow factor and colors that really pop. I love acrylic for my more colorful and vibrant images, like the Magoito series, “Turquoise Water”, and the Caribbean Sea prints.

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