A History of Canvas Printing

Canvas printing is a brilliant way to add images and artwork to your living or work space.  It has evolved quite a bit over the years and we spent some time finding out about where it all began and how it evolved into the processes we use today.

Before Canvas Printing

Before the Renaissance, artists painted on wood panels because they were easy to find and provided a finished product that people generally found acceptable.  The problem was that the artists did not have a way to treat the wood and so their artwork would eventually rot away – not ideal obviously.  Canvas stretched over a rugged wood frame with a white paint binder applied has been used since the 15th century and provided them with a longer lasting way to showcase their art.  The fabric could be made out of hemp, flax, or cotton and was much more versatile and endured the elements.  The renaissance painters of the 16th century quickly picked canvas up as their painting medium of choice and it became the most popular medium for oil paintings, and later, for acrylics.


How Canvas Printing Began

Painting on canvas has been around for hundreds of years, but more recently a new phenomenon has become a popular choice.  In 1875, Robert Barclay of England developed the offset printing process for printing on tin, which used metal plates.  Art reproductions were originally printed on canvas for many decades using a modified form of offset printing.  This is basically when the inked image is transferred from a metal plate to a rubber blanket and then applied to the printing surface.  An American printer, Ira W. Rubel, accidentally discovered the process in 1903 and soon built a press to exploit it for paper printing.  As with most discoveries, this process evolved over time and printers began experimenting with other materials like canvas.

Illustrator and painter Robert Thom’s depiction of the invention of the offset printing press by Ira W. Rubel and his assistants in Nutley, NJ.


Offset printing press (Kim Steele-PhotodiscThinkstock)
Offset printing press (Kim Steele-Photodisc/Thinkstock)

How Printing Evolved

Since the 1990’s, canvas printing has been done using other types of print processes, with inkjet printing being the most popular.  The most commonly used material for canvas printing is cotton or a poly canvas (which has a plastic base).    Large format printers make it possible for us to print art reproductions and high resolution photographs onto much larger canvas sizes, giving the customer a wide range of canvas sizes to choose from.  For a long time, buying artwork for your home was one of only a few options but this can be very expensive.  With the advances in printing technology it is becoming quicker and more cost effective to print your favourite photographs and images onto canvas.

large format inkjet printing

What to Expect from a Quality Canvas Print

Expert canvas printers (such as ourselves) have put in the time and research to ensure that the final product meets high standards.  Our stretched canvas prints provide a beautifully soft, warm and modern feel to your space, making them the perfect addition to any home.  Your photos are printed in high resolution on our beautiful ColourPro artist’s canvas.  This silky matt satin canvas allows for a stunning vivid colour reproduction of your photos.  Your prints are then expertly hand stretched over a 44mm thick Superwood frame that has been hand-crafted, which includes a solid 3mm Superwood backing board.  All of our prints are supplied with easy-to-use hanging accessories and a 100% love guarantee.

Canvas prints are a great way to incorporate your style into artwork for your home or office.  With the link between digital and print we are able to access even more images online to choose from and can print your digital photos onto canvas.  Anyone and everyone can create a quality canvas print with us.

Browse through our online gallery to get some ideas, and when you’re ready, let’s create a beautiful canvas print to display in your home or office.

Our next article will give you a look behind the scenes at Canvas Print Co.  Meet the founders and the people that help them to make it work to produce high quality canvas prints.

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