How to Look After your Fine Art Print
In Fine Art Print vs Standard Print, we explain that one of the specificities of a Fine Art print is its visual quality and as mentioned in The Fine Art Mounting & Matting Process, a great deal of care went into finalising your print so you can enjoy it for generations to come. Handmade works of art are inherently fragile but can easily and effectively be protected from damage with a little bit of knowledge and effort.
Know your enemies
If you ever visited a museum or a place hosting any kind of Fine Art, you may have noticed the art is sheltered from any direct sunlight or even any natural light altogether. This is because the sun is a source of multiple radiation like the ultraviolet light which badly affects the art, just like it does our skin. Obviously in order to appreciate your new Fine Art print, you need it to be well lit. However, placing it in your glass veranda is not the best solution. Even strong artificial light from bulbs can cause colour fading. Light damage is cumulative and irreversible and can even damage the structure of the paper itself.
If the only available wall in your home is facing the direct sunlight a great part of the day, one option you have is to invest in UV protection glass/plexiglass which usually can block up to 97% of the radiation. However, it can affect how the colours are perceived as such a glazing can have a light tint. Alternatively, one can use the museum grade glass but it is very expensive and heavy which is not ideal in a family home. A final tip would consist on seasonally rotating the art you have hung so each get a share of the not so adequate light exposure.
Your Fine Art print was made out of natural material which can be sensitive to extreme temperature fluctuations. This would cause expansion and contraction of the paper fibres and make the print uneven. High temperatures can lead to brittleness and darkening of the paper. Ever wondered why there are thermometers in each room of a museum?
Your Fine Art print will be thankful if you could keep it in a cool environment, preferably within 16° and 22°C. Do not hang your print above a fire place, a heater or an air-conditioning unit.
High humidity can cause mildew, moulding and foxing (brown spots), as well attract pests like silverfish and other insects. On the other hand, too low of humidity will dry out the paper and make it brittle. Extreme fluctuations can also cause the print to buckle.
It is best to keep your Fine Art print in an environment with a humidity level between 35 and 55%. Do not hang your print in a bathroom or near a humidifier.
Pollutants to look out for include atmospheric pollutants like sulphur and other airborne particulates, dust, dirt, sweat and oils from your hands as well as acids from the paper itself (Hence Tom Migot Fine Art only uses archival Fine Art papers material to avoid this issue) and mounting materials from framing. Acids from the paper or the framing materials (frame or glass) can cause colours to bleach out and cause discolourations of the paper. Atmospheric pollutants as well as biological agents like insects and mould will only flourish as a result of uncontrolled environmental factors such as high humidity and temperature.
Keep your Fine Art print away from dust, dirt and other pollutants. If you need to clean your print from a speckle of dust, it is recommended to use a very soft brush and do gentle passes.
Insects like silverfish and some other pests like to eat paper.
Maintain the room humidity level to 35-55%.
Bad treatment of the paper while handling can lead to creases and bends that almost impossible to remove. Dirty hands and even natural oil on our fingers can scuff the surface and leave residues.
When handling prints on paper, you should try and touch the paper as little as possible, and avoid touching the image area entirely. If you need to handle your print, use both hands holding from the edges and let the print bend gently to avoid creasing. To minimise the risk of creasing, Tom Migot Fine Art only uses heavy paper (310gsm) for printing.
The Fine Art paper used for creating your prints can be very receptive to oil and moisture in the skin. These can leave marks behind. Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly to remove any dirt, oils or lotions before handling prints. This limits the amount of oils that come in contact with the print. You can also use a pair of cotton gloves.
If your Fine Art print is not on display, the best way to preserve it is to keep it safe, stored horizontally flat inside an archival box. You should never roll a Fine Art print as it can stress, stretch, or break the fibres of the paper. If stacking multiple prints on top of each other, use some tissue paper like glassine in between.