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What is an Acrylic Print?

Author: Libby - Printique by Adorama

What is an acrylic print? - Printique

Taking the perfect photo is a lot of work, and the material you print it on is an important part of making it look good. After all, you don’t want to limit your photo’s potential by using the wrong display medium. There are loads of print options out there, and you’ve got the task of choosing the right one.

Acrylic photo prints offer a professional, vibrant image with a unique look, but many people don’t know much about them. Let us help demystify the increasingly popular acrylic print and show you how it can be an excellent choice for displaying your photos.

The Basics of Acrylic Prints

So, what is an acrylic photo print? The general idea involves a high-quality print sandwiched between a sheet of acrylic and a durable backing. It adds a 3D effect to your image and encases it in durable, glass-like material. Acrylic prints look sleek and professional, great for more modern-looking applications and photos. Because of their slick appearance, you see them a lot in commercial spaces, like offices and lobbies. You’ll also see them in galleries and other places where artists want their work to stand out but still look professional.

Since an acrylic print enhances the natural beauty of a photo, any number of images look good with this display medium. A photo of some flowers from your backyard will look as nice and crisp as that picture of the city from your trip to New York. Portraits look vibrant and lifelike, while landscapes stay sharp and awe-inspiring. If you’re trying to pull viewers in at a professional art gallery, the depth of an acrylic print is sure to grab attention. In the home or in a business, their sheen and light-bending effects turn your image into a brilliant focal point.

Modern Acrylic Prints - Printique

In all of these instances, acrylic prints offer a slick, modern appearance. If you’re working with that kind of image, acrylic enhances its inherent look. Otherwise, it works well in plenty of locations.

One useful aspect of acrylic prints is their durability. You’ve probably got plenty of old paper prints wearing away in a box somewhere. They could experience water damage, regular rips and tears or even holes from mice. A sheet of sturdy acrylic, on the other hand, isn’t susceptible to rips and tears like a print or canvas would be. Acrylic prints are shatter-resistant too, so the danger of a fragile glass block isn’t there. Some can be scratch-resistant, as well. An acrylic print can protect the photo’s inks since it guards against ultraviolet (UV) light damage. The acrylic layer also makes it waterproof. This waterproof design makes it easy to clean so you can use any standard household glass cleaner on your print.

Proper Setting for Acrylic Prints

Blocks and Wall Acrylic Prints - Printique

Different types and sizes of acrylic prints look best in different environments:

-Block prints are thicker and best placed on a desk or a table, where they can stand up by themselves. They tend to be smaller, as they typically need to fit on a tabletop.

-Wall prints are meant to be mounted or hung on the wall. They can work in small or large formats.

When it comes to the environment of an acrylic print, there are very few restrictions. It will look good in many different settings, but sleek, modern décor fits best. Both small and large prints work well, but large prints offer more of a sense of grandeur for your photos. The shine of the acrylic is an eye-catching trait, and guests can see the refraction of the light better on large prints. Thick prints can also have this effect, especially when viewed from the side, as you can see the image from the edge of the block.

If you’re looking to buy an acrylic print, you’ll probably notice how versatile they are. These prints can hang from the wall, lean up against the mantel, stand on an easel, sit on your desk and more. With an array of mounting options and customizability, you can make an acrylic print the focal point of any room. Choose from floating panels, classy wall mounts, easels in sizes that range from 4×6″ to 30×40″ or pedestals in sizes up to and including 8×10.”

How Do Acrylic Prints Compare to Other Mediums?

Every printing material, from canvas to metal, has a set of unique characteristics that make it more or less suitable in different situations.

Acrylic Prints vs. Canvas

Printing on canvas is an excellent choice for displaying photos, but it has a very different look from acrylic prints. With canvas, you may get a more traditional feel to your image that works in many homes and amongst old-fashioned décor. Acrylic photo prints tend to look more modern and sleek. Of course, there are several differences between the two.

Acrylic prints have a few advantages over canvases, but they aren’t without their drawbacks:

-Pros: Acrylic is more durable and can protect your image from ultraviolet (UV) rays and other damage from rips or water. Plus, the vibrancy of the colors and museum-quality image give it a more striking, unique appearance than a canvas. Of course, there’s also an element of light refraction with an acrylic print. You’ll get a cool mirrored look from all angles, whereas a canvas doesn’t have any such effect.

-Cons: You might find yourself paying for that “wow” factor with a more expensive print in acrylic. Another issue that some people have with acrylic prints is high glare. You can’t have the soft matte finish of a canvas. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the material. You can minimize this by placing your acrylic print away from large windows. Finally, an acrylic print is not as easy to transport, since it isn’t as light as canvas and can be scratched. For many, this isn’t an issue, especially when placing it in the home where it won’t be moved much. For people looking to hold galleries or travel a lot, the added weight could be a big inconvenience.

Canvases also have their share of pros and cons:

-Pros: A canvas is going to be more economical, which might be necessary if you have a lot of images, an especially large photo or a tight budget. They’re also easier to move due to their lower weight. Canvases may be better suited for photos that are more rustic or antique in nature, compared to the sleek modernity of acrylics.

-Cons: Canvases aren’t as unique as some other mediums, and may come off as less professional if you’re in a gallery environment. Durability is also a concern, as you can scratch, stretch and tear a canvas.

Both canvases and acrylic prints will give your image a 3D feel, but acrylics are more durable. Acrylics can provide that impressive light-bending effect, while canvases stay simple. Each one is a great option, but the choice depends on your image, preferences and budget.

Acrylic Blocks - Printique

Acrylic Vs. Metal Prints

Another way to get a unique print is to use metal. Printing on a sheet of metal places your image on a bright, textured surface that imparts its interesting grain and sheen to your image. With the range of customization options, metal prints work with many different types of images, from rustic to industrial to portrait photography.

Some of the differences between acrylic and metal prints include the following:

-Metal prints may fit better with antique or rustic-looking images than the sleek, modern look of acrylic.

-Metal prints are typically lighter. If you travel a lot or are printing for large dimensions, metal might be easier to transport.

-Acrylic prints are usually slightly more expensive than metal prints.

Both options are an excellent way to add a little something special to your print.

Acrylic Vs. Wood Prints

Similarly, printing on wood is another excellent way to add some uniqueness to your image display. Wood prints reveal the grain of the wood through the image, with a matte finish. They look great with warm-toned photos and images of nature. Some other characteristics of wood prints to consider include:

-Like metal, wood prints may be better suited to rustic photos than an acrylic print. They have a more natural, organic feel to them.

-Wood prints are around the same price as acrylic prints.

Wood may win over acrylic if you’re looking to print something more rustic or put it in a room with rustic or natural décor. On the other hand, printing portraits is typically better with acrylic prints.

Acrylic Vs. Giclee Prints

Giclee is a high-quality, vibrant and archival photo print made on fine art papers. It makes just about any photo shine, especially if it’s in a nice frame. If you’re considering using a Giclee print, consider these factors:

-Although the paper on which Giclee prints are printed is incredibly high-quality, it is still paper. As such, it will be vulnerable to water damage, ultraviolet (UV) rays and tears. A good frame can add a layer of protection, but in an acrylic print, this protection is built-in.

-Giclee prints offer similarly vibrant colors and exceptional print quality to an acrylic print.

-The paper used for Giclee prints can have low, medium or heavy-textured surfaces.

-Giclee is typically less expensive than an acrylic print, but you’ll likely need a frame if you’re putting it on display, so you might need to factor that into the cost.

Giclee prints are excellent options for simple displays, but they lack the 3D effect and the unique look of an acrylic print. If you want something that stands out more from other photos on your wall, an acrylic print is the way to go.

Acrylic Vs. Standout Prints

Standout prints are simple additions to a photo that lift it off the wall. With a quarter-inch or inch-and-a-half edge, these prints push your photo off the surface of the wall and come in a variety of finishes and mount options. Consider these factors when weighing the pros and cons of standout prints:

-If you want something besides the high-gloss sheen of acrylics, standout prints can give you more options, like luster, glossy, matte, silk, metallic and deep matte. Acrylic prints will only appear shiny due to the block in front of the image itself.

-Both options offer several mounting options, but standouts have a built-in easel that you can pop out to let it stand on its own on a table.

-The border of a standout print will be a solid color. You won’t be able to see the image through it like you can with acrylic prints.

-Standout prints are much more affordable than acrylics. If you are on a tight budget, want to give your image more of a 3D feel and don’t care much for the glass effect, these prints are an excellent choice.

While standout prints lack the impressive light refraction of an acrylic print, they can still set your photo apart in a budget-friendly, versatile way.

How to Decide If You Should Display Your Photo in an Acrylic Print

Bright Color Acrylic - Printique

Acrylic is a great option for displaying many types of photos, but different looks and uses can make other mediums more appealing. Consider the following factors when deciding if an acrylic print is right for your space:

The image itself: Acrylic will enhance the bright colors in your image and make them pop. If you’re going for a more subdued tone, it might not have the effect you’re looking for. In an acrylic print, the image will take on a 3D effect and show up as vibrant and bold. Take a look at your photo’s subject, too. Some subjects lend themselves better to certain mediums. For instance, portraits and images of faces tend to become distracting when printed on wood or metal, due to the natural grain that shows through. On the other hand, acrylics, canvas and Giclee prints do not have this limitation. The tone of the photo will also influence the style in which you want to display it. An ornate, antique frame might fit a Giclee-printed image better than a sleek and simple standout print. Consider your subject and tone to decide what kind of feel you want the finished display to have and avoid any issues that can lead to problems with a specialty medium.

Your décor: Think about where the print will be placed and how it is styled. Is it going inside an older farmhouse or a newly built high-rise with a modern design scheme? Will it be used for a business, for home décor or to promote your photography work via galleries and showings? Each of these will influence the aesthetic appeal and practical aspects, like its ease of transportation and cleaning. Acrylic is a more modern-looking style, so keep that in mind. Also, think about the effect glare might have on the image and the location in which you want to place it. A sun-filled office space might make it difficult to see.

Durability: Do you need your print to hold up to tough situations like frequent moving or toddlers? Does it need to be displayed outdoors, where UV light will be on it constantly? Acrylic prints can provide more durability than other mediums. In public spaces or those with messy children, acrylic is also easy to clean.

Ease of transport: Do you plan on shipping your print, where weight could add an expense? Could your piece get damaged during delivery? Do you move frequently, such as from gallery to gallery, where you may have an easier time with lightweight images? Acrylic may be too heavy, whereas another medium is easier to move with similar durability features.

Budget: How tight is your budget? Of course, some prints are more affordable than others. Acrylics tend to run on the more expensive side, but you get a truly stunning result out of it. Think about what you’re using it for. Is it a display of your family’s bond in your living room or an investment in your career as a photographer? Will the print you choose affect your customers in a business? Important investments can make the extra cost worth it for some applications.

How Are Acrylic Prints Made?

How Acrylic prints are made - Printique

There are two main methods for creating acrylic prints:

Direct-print: With this option, the image is printed directly onto the acrylic and sealed with a white backing. When printing on high-quality photo paper, you get a sharper image and bright, bold colors.

Face-mounted: In this style, the image is printed on photo paper and sandwiched between two plates, one of which is a block of acrylic. The back sheet can vary in design to fit the style of the image. At Printique, our wall prints have aluminum backings for durability, while our thicker desk prints have a high-gloss card stock. Both provide studio-quality images and ensure your image appears crisp and sharp. The image is then bonded to the acrylic with a special crystal-clear adhesive, which creates an airtight seal. This process makes the photo look like it is part of the acrylic. The face-mounted approach offers more vibrant colors and high-quality results but can be more expensive than the other method.

At Printique, we use the direct-print method, giving you a beautifully printed image that is tightly bonded to the acrylic panel. We only use high-quality materials, like polished, optical-grade acrylic and aluminum backings. These materials offer a stunning result that is clear, crisp and bold. After printing, our quality assurance team reviews your piece to ensure the best result.

What to Look for in an Acrylic Print

When you’re looking for someone to make your acrylic print, look for the following characteristics:

Uses the face-mount method: Direct printing can sometimes lead to fading or poor color accuracy, while the face-mount method has superior quality and durability. Check to see which one is used.

Offers thick acrylic: Make sure your printer offers thick, gallery-quality acrylic. The thicker the acrylic, the more light refraction you’ll see from the sides.

Has customizability: You’ll probably want a variety of mount styles and backing materials, so you can display your image in the way that works best for you.

Uses high-quality paper and ink: The materials used can make or break your results, so stick with a printer that opts for high-end materials.

Has secure packaging and shipping options: Some manufacturers don’t offer secure shipping or replacement options, so be aware of these policies. At Printique, we offer secure packaging and will replace your item if there is a problem during shipping.

Has positive, authentic reviews: If you can’t find positive reviews about a company, you probably won’t get a positive product. Always check for great reviews from past customers.

Interesting acrylic prints - Printique

Try Acrylic Prints for Your Next Piece

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist looking to step up your displays, acrylic prints are an excellent way to do so. They are high-quality, unique and provide the optimal viewing experience in a variety of locations. Galleries, homes and offices are all great places to find an acrylic print.

Printique understands how to deliver the best acrylic photo printing possible. Watch your photos come to life in a brand new way with Printique acrylic prints. Visit our product page today to get started!


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