Posted on January 12, 2018
While visiting a friend’s home, I noticed an enormous, beautiful painting hanging above the fireplace. Up close, I could see what looked like real paint clinging to the surface of the paper and assumed that I was looking at the original work of art. But when I asked my friend who painted the piece, she responded, “Oh, that’s actually a print! The artist was selling three of them just like it.”
Even if you can’t afford a $179 million Picasso, you can still get an excellent copy of that same painting for as little as a few hundred dollars, often much less.1. Yet not all art prints are worth hanging on your walls. The quality of the print paper has a huge impact on the appearance of the final piece; the color, opacity, and texture of the paper all affect how the inks and paints will appear once printed onto the final product. Color measurement tools can be used by paper manufacturers to ensure that each blank sheet of paper will allow printmakers to produce their ideal images.
Why the Color of Art Papers Matters
All papers can affect the final appearance of art prints; CMYK inks, for example, will look warmer when they are printed on cream-colored paper, whereas they will appear cooler in tone when printed on paper that leans more toward the blue end of the scale. Color discrepancies become even more apparent on darker-colored papers; generally, the richer and darker the paper is, the more it will impact the final look of the ink on the art print.2 As such, printmakers must carefully consider the specific interactions between materials in order to produce their desired colors and seek out the papers that will allow them to create their ideal hues.
Printmakers place a great degree of trust in the paper manufacturing industry because the quality of their product depends on a harmonious marriage between pigment and paper. If printmakers see a sample of a particular sheet of colored paper, then they expect that their future paper order will match that color exactly. Any small variation in hue or color consistency could cause art printmakers to lose trust in your paper products, as such variation can interfere with your customer’s ability to create the images they want. For example, a paper with too much yellow can make blue tones appear more teal or green than the printmaker intends, compromising the integrity of the image. Imagine van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” but with a dull green sky, rather than a rich navy blue.
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