How to take care of fine art prints
Ok. So you have your artwork and it’s framed beautifully.
Without the right care, it won’t last long.
Here are our top tips for taking care of your fine art prints to maximize their lifespan and vibrancy.
Sunlight & Indoor Lighting
Unlike real flowers, prints of flowers – or prints of anything for that matter – don’t like sunlight.
Direct sunlight or even artificial light will make your prints fade, quickly.
All prints are made with chemicals which react to environmental factors, especially light.
…Just like our skin, the sun’s UV rays can also damage and prematurely age your artwork.
A good way to protect your prints is to use UV glass or UV acrylic glazing which can block up to 98% of harmful Ultra violet radiation.
Keep your prints at least at a medium distance from heat sources. such as heaters, strong lamps, fireplaces and cooking areas to avoid damage.
The best would be to hang prints at a minimum of 1-1.5 feet away from lights or heat sources.
Humidity (something of a troublemaker here in Florida) is especially damaging to fine art prints.
Long exposure to high levels of humidity will quickly cause mold and discoloration.
Humidity tends to attract pests like silverfish which also love fine art.
(they have good taste)
Here’s something else you may not have thoughts of.
Especially in warmer climate areas, when we water indoor plants, we are inadvertently increasing humidity levels in the plant’s immediate environment.
Keep your prints in well-ventilated areas – away from indoor plants.
For those up North with colder winters, do not place your prints directly above the heater.
Paper and canvas prints can warp and become brittle when exposed to hot dry air for long periods of time.
The colors on almost any printed material will also fade and deteriorate when exposed to direct heat sources for longer periods of time.
Bathrooms & Kitchens
If you would like to hand your prints as part of the décor in a bathroom or kitchen area, we recommend glazing on the front to protect them from humidity and environmental pollutants.
Also ensure the back of the print is sealed properly to stop moisture from leaking into the print.
(Concerns around moisture are – of course – more important with paper or canvas but not as big of a problem with plexi-glass or brushed aluminum.)
Some people go the full Hugh Hughes, with white cotton gloves and face masks when handling prints.
I can tell you, it’s not necessary.
Just be sure when handling prints, especially paper or canvas ones, that your hands are clean, and free of excessive oils.
Also make sure you do not touch the printed areas, the mount board, or the mat. Oily fingerprints can and will leave an irremovable mark.
The proper way to handle prints is by gripping opposite corners. For example, grabbing the top right corner and the bottom left.
Allow the print to sag slightly in the middle, but be careful of creasing it. Because, it is almost impossible to remove dents, creases or folds from paper prints.
Pro printer tip: The borders around an art piece are for handling it. Don’t trim or cut down the excess border on your artwork. It makes it difficult to handle the print without damaging it.
How to store loose prints
If you have prints that have been taken out of their mounted frame for any reason, they should be placed in separate acid-free paper folders and stored horizontally.
Under no circumstances should prints be kept with the printed sides touching. This will damage both prints.
Make sure the space in which they are kept has a relatively stable temperature and humidity levels. The best is anywhere between 40-60% humidity and 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit (15-25 Celsius).
Also, keep an eye out for pests such as silverfish, ants or worms which can severely damage your art.
Pro printer tip: One natural remedy for keeping silverfish and ants away is the use of clove oil. Wipe a small amount of clove oil in the vicinity where the prints are kept, but never on the prints themselves.
Keeping your Acrylic or Glass Frame Clean
Acrylic and glass casings and frames are simple to keep clean.
An easy way to do this is regular dusting.
We recommend using a fine duster or a soft rag to carefully remove any dust from the surface of the glass or acrylic.
But it’s also good to do a thorough clean once in awhile
Simply dusting can’t get everything.
Properly clean the surface every few months with real surface cleaner.
But remember to spray the cleaner on your cleaning cloth or material, not directly onto the glass or acrylic itself.
Spraying onto the frame may not be a problem, but cleaners tend to drip and droplets can get onto an artwork’s frame or mat which could damage the print.
Lastly, we recommend using a natural cleaning spray without alcohol or ammonia ingredients, which tend to be harsh.
Now that you know all the steps of finding art, printing it, framing it and looking after it, you’re ready to start printing prints with a professional.
If you’re looking for even more information…
We’ve collected some of the most useful resources we could find on the internet (including a few of our own) with more in depth tips, tools and techniques in different specific areas of printing.