A canvas print is the reproduction of a painting, photograph, or other image onto a piece of stretched canvas material. The original image is typically smaller than the image that ends up on the canvas. This type of production, enlarging the original image without losing its detail or quality, is known as wide format printing or large format printing. Though they come in a variety of shapes, canvas prints are commonly square or rectangular in shape and are made for framing or hanging.
The canvases used in canvas printing are generally made of cotton or linen. In the past, hemp was often utilized in the production of canvases, but now most manufacturers find cotton, linen, and other readily available materials to be much more economical. A more recent type of material developed for canvas prints is Poly Canvas, which is derived from plastic.
The weight of canvases used in canvas prints are usually categorized by a number system. The higher the number on the scale, the lighter the canvas is. This system helps manufacturers determine which type of canvas will most complement the ink transferred during the production process.
Artwork is transformed onto a canvas print through one of two major modes of reproduction. One is known as offset printing, in which an image is inked, transferred from a plate to a rubber mat, and then transferred again onto the canvas. While this has historically been the most popular method of canvas print production and is still used widely in the publication of paper products such as magazines, computerized printing processes are becoming more and more common. Inkjet printing and dye sublimation, both of which utilize computer printers, are a practical way to mass produce canvas prints. This more technologically advanced type of printing also makes it easier to produce a large format print, maintaining the integrity and finer points of the original image.
After the image transfer process is complete, a canvas print is stretched over a wood frame and secured with strategically placed tacks or staples. This is known as a gallery wrap. A gallery wrap is different from a standard stretched canvas, however. Stretched canvas is a part of a longer process in which a canvas print is prepared for framing, and the nails, tacks, or staples are often still visible. With a gallery wrap, the fasteners are hidden from plain sight—usually along the sides of the canvas—and the print is immediately ready for a frame or for hanging directly on a wall.