Fine Art Care: Preserving and Protecting Art Prints

Woman looking at art pieces in gallery

Fine art prints consist of cellulose, or finely broken down plant fibers. While cellulose is extremely durable, environmental factors, pollutants, pests like the paper-eating silverfish, preparation methods, and additives can cause the condition of the paper to deteriorate over time.

The good news is that you can take steps to make sure that your art investment remains in good condition for a long time.  Below are some suggestions to protect and preserve your art prints:

Refrain from Touching the Printed Area

Wherever possible, avoid touching any area on the page with the pigment ink. This is especially important for matte papers printed with areas that have smooth tonality and high ink density. If you scuff, rub, or touch a matte paper, the traces of the contact will stay visible. Any damage done to the material is irreversible.

Print with a Margin or Border for Handling

If you configure your print with little to no space around the edges, you’ll likely touch the printed area at some point. As much as possible, add a border to the fine art print. By doing so, you’re less inclined to touch the printed area when handling the artwork. If you’re not sure how to do this, reach out to a company that provides the right fine art printing services in Utah instead of taking on the job by yourself.

Use Archival Sheeting and Sleeves

When storing or shipping fine art prints, use archival tissue or plastic to safeguard the artwork from rubbing and scuffing. If you plan to use plastic as your archival material, opt for inert plastic that has an adhesive on the bag. Choosing bags that come with an adhesive flap may cause the glue to come in contact with the art print upon insertion or removal.

If you’re going to use tissue papers to preserve your print, make sure the material is completely acid-free and intended for archival purposes. Avoid tissues with textures that can scuff the print.

Alternative: Frame the Art Prints

Framing the artwork behind glass is the most suitable physical destination for your print. If you’re going to take this route, discuss your options with your framer. Avoid providers that use non-archival acids or glue in their process. These materials could destroy your prints over time.

Keep the Art Prints in a Dry and Cool Place

Big swings in humidity and temperature can compromise the quality of your art prints. Your best chance in extending the life of your art prints is to keep them out of direct sunlight and inside a dry and cool place.

Add an Extra Layer of Protection with a Protective Spray

Closeup of an artist holding paintbrush

Photo and paper protectant sprays give your art prints an extra layer of defense against UV light, moisture, fingerprints, and dirt. Applying the protective spray is easy — simply use the product onto the printed media and leave the material to dry. You don’t need to worry about the droplets affecting the art print.

These care instructions will help keep your fine art prints in top condition for many generations. Even if the prints are just a replication of the original version, you should still take care of them like you would with any valuable and delicate work of art.