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How to Use Fine Art Paper

The fine paper we sell is expensive in comparison to standard inkjet paper that is bought in office stores. These papers are synonymous with "fine" wines and "fine" art. The papers are often mould made on equipment that is centuries old much in the same way it has been made for centuries. These papers are expensive in comparison to office inkjet papers. They are luxurious in hand and when photographs and fine art are printed on these papers, they have a much greater presence than when printed on standard inkjet papers. The fine paper we sell is archival.

Archival does not mean fade resistant. That's where pigment ink comes into play. "Archival" is one of the most misused terms in inkjet printing. Everyone associates archival with ink fade. But, the reality is that you can print with dye inks on fine paper and produce archival prints. These prints can stand the test of time provided they do not get a lot of light exposure. On the other hand, you can not print with pigment inks onto a paper like EPSON Enhanced Matte paper and expose it to a lot of light. The light may not affect the inks – but it will deteriorate the paper turning it brown and fragile. EPSON Enhanced Matte is not archival – will not outlive pigment inks printed in it – and oddly enough it used to be called EPSON Archival Matte paper until EPSON realized what “Archival” meant.

So using fine papers made of 100% cotton and/or that are acid-free or pH neutral will allow you to make archival work. The paper will support fade-resistant inks and if stored properly can last centuries. It’s up to you to choose the best inks if your work is going to receive lots of illumination. However, 'lots of illumination' is never a good idea whether the inks are pigment or dye. Fine art and photography should only ever receive little to moderate amounts of light.

We sell our Brand of papers (JonCone Studio) which are quite unique, and we also sell the Canson Infinity line. The JonCone Studio papers are OBA free which means that they are not artificially brightened. Most papers are not OBA free and the color of white will change in time. Too much OBA will turn yellow in time. Light is the culprit. The JonCone Studio papers are well known for having the most convincing photographic surfaces (without decorative textures and patterns). JonCone Studio Type 2 competes directly with Hahnemuhle Photo Rag but is not optically brightened. JonCone Studio Type 5 is simply the best baryta paper on the market today. Its surface is reminiscent of darkroom fiber based paper when air dried. It competes directly against all other brands for photographers who do not prefer decorative surface treatment.

The Canson papers are also OBA free using titanium white pigment instead of optical brighteners when they wish to brighten the sheet. Their line of papers is quite unique in that they are traditional printmaking papers used for decades by printmakers all over the world. But, they have been updated to include a surface coating that is receptive to inkjet.

Both of these brands of paper will allow you to produce work that stands the test of time. Both brands of paper are the same as what is being used at Cone Editions Press. They are coated on one side with an inkjet receptor coating which stops the ink from spreading (dot gain) and allows you to print sharp and strong color. Here is an easy method to tell which side is coated. Touch the tip of our tongue to your fore finger and spread the moisture between thumb and finger and grasp a corner of the paper between your thumb and finger. Now let go! The paper side that is coated for inkjet will stick. The uncoated side will release. Now that you know which side is the correct printing side, you can examine it closely to try and tell it apart from the uncoated side. It will reflect light differently. Your tongue will also stick to it if you light touch it!

These papers are often subject to differing humidity levels within your studio and within the box. If the paper has a tendency to curl inwards there is a strong possibility that it will not lie flat in the printer and may contact the edge of the print head. When that happens you will see ink drips across the paper. To prevent this, we recommend that if your paper is curling towards the inside that you carefully roll the edges back and forth towards the verso (back) to try and reverse the curl. Further, we suggest you dust off the matte papers with an architectural drafting brush. It will not harm the surface and it's useful for removing small lint specs that would otherwise fall off after being printed revealing small white spots. Further, lint is present in all fine art papers and you do not want it collecting inside the printer.

On the other hand, the baryta surface is too delicate to brush. We recommend that you carefully look for lint and if present, use a blower similar to what is used to blow off a lens. They have squeeze bulbs!

Finally, paper is delicate when printed. If you produce fine prints you should cover them with interleaving. We sell many different pre-cut sizes. You should never stack prints and then pull one out from under. Treat your works of art on fine paper like the works of art they are! Interleave them and store them away from plastic, painted steel, fumes, and any material that may have acid such as cardboard and wood!