Choosing the right finish for your wall art
Choosing the right finish for your wall art may seem complicated, but it comes down to a matter of personal preference and your home decor. When faced with a choice between fine art prints, canvas, acrylic, or metal, answer yourself the following questions. Is your home more minimalist? Midcentury modern? Farmhouse? Classic? Do you like framed artwork? Fine art prints? Do you prefer shiny surfaces, or something less reflective? How about NO reflections?
Secondly, where are you placing these images? Are they going somewhere with a lot of natural light Does your wall face windows? Are they on an exterior wall facing in (away from the windows)? Will they be in high traffic areas for a more low profile? Or are they going to be a statement piece on a grand wall or above a fireplace?
Answering these questions can help you determine what finishes you’d like on your final pieces.
I can best describe metal prints as looking directly at the image, instead of looking through something (ie: glass) to see the portrait. The colors are vibrant and gorgeous and the finish is super sleek and dramatic. Your portrait is printed directly onto the metal surface so there is no other surface distraction. Is your home decor more minimalist and modern? This works well in either setting. Metal is by far my favorite, everyone comments on how eye-catching the prints are and how 3-dimensional the subjects look!
Two finishes are available:
- Glossy – Glossy metal will be the most Vibrant, with its shiny, reflective surface. It is super sleek, crisp, and stunning.
- Semi-matte – Slightly less vibrant but still vibrant, with less reflections. The reflections are softer.
Acrylic prints are also a great modern option. With an acrylic print, the image is printed on paper and then the acrylic is adhered on top. Acrylic portraits are vibrant and polished with crisp, defined details. Acrylics are perfect for scenes with a lot of vibrant color and detail, just like metal. Images printed on acrylic really give a life-like feeling to your portrait. Choosing between this and metal is really just a personal preference for the aesthetic of your home and print surface.
You can choose from:
- Standard Acrylic – With a standard finish, your photos are sharp and vibrant in color. The surface is reflective like looking through glass, but without that separation between a photo and a glass frame.
- Semi-matte – The semi matte look on acrylic will make the image slightly less vibrant and with less contrast, but it also eliminates the surface reflections. For me, the choice here really depends on the type of portrait you have selected. Outdoor portraits really are best on shinier more vibrant surfaces. For studio portraits, if you like less reflections, this may be a good option for you. Again, take into account the location of your print when choosing your surface.
Canvas is a classic choice and is very popular for being extremely versatile. It can go virtually with any decor. This type of canvas is unlike any you’ve ever purchased in the consumer market. It has a soft touch finish which makes it feel like printed soft leather. It is not that rougher textured canvas quality you are used to. You can actually wipe this if you need to (although, like anything else, I would recommend keeping sticky hands off of any portrait!) The colors and contrast are softer, and lean towards a more romantic appearance. The self framing of the block it is mounted on, moves it towards a more modern appearance than its counterparts.
Portraits that are softer in appearance ie: closeups with a shallow depth of field (blurry while only the subject is in focus), would look amazing on canvas. Great for a child’s room or nursery, a wall art gallery with multiple mixed media images, or mixed with the Fine Art prints.
- There is no shine, so no reflections.
- Your canvas is wrapped neatly into the block, so you have a beautiful framing of the sides, top, and bottom, that is still sleek in appearance.
- The Italian Cotton Canvas is finished in a way that makes it wipeable (in case you get some small sticky fingers on it!)
Comparing Canvas, Acrylic, and Metal finishes
Here are some side by side comparisons of all three options.
Wall Art Finishing Details – Consider your Environment
All of the canvas, acrylic, and metal prints come mounted on thick blocks, that are ready to hang with integrated 3d hangers at the back so they sit flush to your wall. You can choose from a thick 2.3″ or thin 1.2″ block depending on your end use.
I recommend the thick blocks for behind low traffic areas, such as above/behind a couch, above a fireplace, or a dining room console, or an end corner wall in a hallway. For higher traffic areas, the thinner blocks are great as the low profile will feel less intrusive. Examples of this are a walk-through hallway, stairways, or if you are combining the block with other pieces of artwork that aren’t thick (ie: framed pieces or Amalfi panels, for instance).
How to Choose the Right Wall Art Size
The most important thing to consider when choosing wall art, aside from the finish, is of course, the size. We are naturally inclined to ask “what’s bigger, what’s smaller” or “how many inches is that sample piece” without taking into consideration the most important component.
Inches are irrelevant when you are looking to put something on a wall. You need to take into account the size of your wall or furniture piece and SCALE the wall art to what looks appropriate there. Your photographer should be able to help you with this. I custom design wall art to clients’ destination walls, so they can see the scale of their pieces appropriately.
More Wall Art Examples
For more examples of client orders, you can check out the Custom Artwork information page here to see more in depth examples of canvas, metal, and acrylic wall art product, including fine art amalfi prints, albums, and folio boxes. The blog post below also has many examples of clients’ final product choices as well!
Ready to hang your pictures?
Check out this handy guide here to cover all of your picture-hanging needs:
The guide above provides all the information you’ll need to hang your photos properly with minimal wall damage!
Sofia Ribeiro Photography is a New Jersey Maternity, Newborn, and Family Photographer serving the North and Central NJ areas, along with NYC and Staten Island.
Sofia Ribeiro is an NJ Maternity Photographer, Newborn, and Family Photographer. Serving the North and Central New Jersey areas, including New York City and Staten Island.