I’ve been meaning to create a “Materials List” for awhile now, to distribute at craft shows, because I’m often asked this question by customers and other artists.
I’m proud of the quality of my prints, and I’ve experimented with a wide variety of papers to find which were best suited to my work.
When I first began selling reproduction prints, I invested in a professional-grade Epson printer that uses archival pigment inks. I use the genuine Epson brand UltraChrome K3 inks.
I purchase them online, because ~ alas ~ my local office supply retailers do not carry ink on their shelves for non-“consumer grade” printers. :(
It would be helpful if they did carry professional grade ink, as I always seem to run out of yellow ink, and a quick trip to the store would be ever-so convenient for people who burn the midnight oil to get work finished. (In my case, the oil is still burning at 3:00AM)
Pigment inks, unlike dye-based inks used in most home office printers, are permanent: fade resistant, water-resistant, and archival… the type of ink used to print reproductions found in museums and galleries.
Full Disclosure: I have accidentally spilled coffee on my prints, and although it did leave a faint colored stain on the paper, the ink itself did not smear.
I’ve also left prints lying in the rear deck of my car, in full sunlight … for *a-hem* six months or more… and the colors did not noticeably fade.
Of course, I wouldn’t recommend spilling drinks on your prints, or leaving them to bake in the sun. However, my carelessness can be perceived as an informal test, and my archival inks passed with flying colors!
Initially, I was using Epson’s Ultra Premium Presentation Paper (a 5-star rated matte photo paper) for all of my reproduction prints.
However, I learned that this particular style of paper was not truly archival… and while I was hunting other options, Epson sent me a sample of their Signature Worthy line of fine-art papers to test-drive.
I fell in love with their Hot and Cold Press papers, which are thick and textured like watercolor paper, and are made from archival 100% cotton rag.
So I made the switch, and now all of my 5″x7″, 8″x10″, 11″x14″, and various other sized prints are reproduced on Epson’s Cold Press. The texture of the paper, combined with the details of the print itself (in which you can see the canvas fibers from my original scanned piece), combine to make these prints nearly identical in look and feel to my acrylic paintings.
I still use Epson’s Ultra Premium Presentation Paper, which has the weight of cardstock, for my greeting cards, bookmarks, and assorted other printing needs. I prefer this paper to any cardstock on the market… and I’ve tried several brands, including Avery. There is a beautiful vibrancy to the colors which rivals the original artwork they were created from.
I recently purchased some “fine-art canvas prints” from an artist-recommended professional lab, to compare with my own prints… and I couldn’t tell the difference. Seeing how well my homemade prints measure up to the professionals’ has given me the confidence to say that my art reproduction prints will meet (and hopefully exceed) your expectations! :)