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Finding the Perfect Substrate

Image of wood panel and canvas sheet
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Everything you need to know to make long-lasting works of art!

When it comes to finding an acid free surface there are 4 different categories to consider:

  1. Acid-Free: Acid-Free materials are going to be top of the line, gallery-ready materials. When making fine art, you will always want to look for these materials first. These can be quite expensive, so selecting the cheaper non-acid fee surfaces will be tempting. In this situation, remember that you get what you pay for. If you are making work intended to be sold at a gallery or to a collector, you will want to be sure you are using the best materials. 
  2. Acid Neutral: While these are still good quality, they contain acid and buffers to fight against it. For this reason, these kinds of papers are great for testing prints but not necessarily selling in a gallery. Acid Neutral paper is quite a bit less expensive so we recommend this for test prints. 
  3. Not stated: In some cases, the material wonโ€™t state whether it is acid-free or not. In this case, you can assume it is not acid-free. You can still use these but it is not good practice to submit to galleries or sell to collectors. 
  4. Specialty Surfaces: Sometimes, you will come across a material that is not guaranteed to be acid-free in any form. In this case, there are tools you can use to test the PH level of the material. These surfaces can be differentiated from Category 3 because there might be a reason you might need to use these materials. For example, you may want to transfer your image to an aluminum substrate. This is an aesthetic that can not be created using paper. While the acidic qualities are a bit unknown, it doesnโ€™t mean that the metal will deteriorate quickly.

Archival Substrate Examples:
Acid-Free Watercolor Paper
Stretched Canvas with Archival Quality Gesso
Plexiglass

Do you have the perfect substrate picked out? To use any of the tutorials available on our site, your images must be printed onto DASS Transfer Film using an Inkjet Printer. Through our company, Kirkpatrick & Co. Specialty Printing, we can print your images to this film for you. Order your print today

We are here to answer any questions you have along the way. Follow us on Instagram to see what others in our community are making and join in on the conversation!

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