Canvas Prints versus Art Prints | What Terms Are You Using?

Canvas Prints Searches Are on the Rise

Historically, many art terms have had confusing meanings. The word “prints” or term “art prints” do not have a standard meaning. They are used so often by art marketers in different ways that without further descriptors they are just confusing.

Fine artists who specialize in high quality original prints, such as etchings, mezzotints, or stone lithographs would prefer that artists creating reproductions refrain from using the term “art print” to describe their reproductions on canvas or paper. I can understand the desire. Their form of printmaking is centuries old and the term has always been adequate for the fine art printmakers’ purposes.

The reality is art marketers use whatever terms they think will help them describe their works in the best way. For example, if a poster publisher wants to use  “graphics” to describe its work, there is no one to stop them. There is no law against using terms to describe any kind of art. It’s kind of a free-for-all.

Art Terms Are Arbitrary and Confusing

The use of art terms changes all the time. It is not just “prints.” For instance, there is much confusion and multiple uses for the term “posters.” Likewise, the term “giclee” has become over used now, too. When  Lamp R Us starts advertising “giclee lamp shades,” this is not good thing for fine artists trying to market their reproductions as giclees.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Minimalist Graphics
The Bauhaus trend towards minimalism reflected in these examples shows our growing desire for authenticity and simplicity.

Minimalism and Authenticity Are Trending

In today’s environment, the trend is to call things what they are, to strip away any artificial embellishment. Have you noticed how graphic design has gone to flat type with out drop shadows and other Photoshop techniques. Look at the examples in the image to see how lays out its product page, or how the 2012 London Olympics graphics were elemental, or how Microsoft’s Windows 8 uses minimalism in its design.

You are not seeing as much tricked-out Photoshop techniques being used in cutting edge graphic design. This trend is indicative of a larger movement towards the same desire for elegant simplicity in design and lifestyles. Give me something that is functional, yet attractive, without being gaudy or over-designed. Call products what they truly, don’t offend me with hype and nonsense. I will suss you out in a moment’s notice and grade you down for doing so.

Giclee and Art Prints Remain Usable, Useful Terms

I am not advocating dropping the terms “art prints” or “giclee prints” from your marketing. Due to its growing search popularity, it does make sense to me to add “canvas prints” to your content and on-page SEO for your website and your blog. While I believe you will not make a great living from selling art to strangers off your website or blog, you don’t want to lose potential sales when someone is specifically looking for a canvas image in your inventory.

You may have invested in growing an awareness for your work, and in having it be known as giclees, or giclee prints, or fine art prints. Nothing wrong with that and for staying the course on using them. I am suggesting you stay aware of how art terminology and search trends are evolving and to get with them, or in front of them as much as possible. Marketing is about awareness. The different ways you create awareness for your art products, the more likely you are to find eager buyers.

Google Trends Is a Most Useful Tool

When you watch the video, you will see how powerful the insights from Google Trends are, and how easy it is to use the tool. If you are not optimizing your blog posts and web pages by including highly searched terms to help describe your work, or you are leaving out terms because you didn’t realize the amount of traffic they receive, you cutting out potential customers from finding you on the Internet.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use

Related Links:

  • Is Giclee Passe?

  • Convergent Media – Is It Time to Bury Digital Art?
  • Convergent Media – Stretching the Imagination
  • The Artist’s Giclee* Handbook


Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use


art prints, art terms, Canvas Prints, giclee prints, graphic design

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  1. I was at a gallery opening for a client of mine, and despite having had several conversations regarding what to call the prints, his gallery labeled his art prints “inkjet prints.” Many priced over $2100 were red dotted, so maybe we are coming around full circle?
    I still favor “archival print” but my domain name tells the importance of the word giclee in marketing. I think the inherent baggage surrounding the term giclee stems from our industry never having defined standards for quality. Since there are no giclee police, anything goes, leaving the gallery/collector world with little choice but to reject the product in many cases. Other terms my clients have had success with include; Multiple Original Print, Collector Print, Archival Print, and Pigment Print. Thanks for revisiting this continual controversy regarding terms.

    1. Hi Gary,

      Thank you for your comment. I don’t believe it’s wise to walk away from giclee if that is where your marketing has been. I like your term, Archival Print. I think Multiple Original Print does not make sense, although I’ve known many publishers and galleries to have successfully used it. A few years ago, I suggested the term “Convergent Media.” It is a take on Mixed Media. It seems to me that most giclees are made with a multiple step process. There is usually an original made using a different medium, such as oil or acrylic. It then goes through an image capture stage and follows through multiple digital manipulations to enhance the image and match it to the original. It is then finished with a varnish, at least. Quite often, there are additional processes, including highlighting, or painting on top of the print. The result is a convergence of original/digital capture/software manipulation/digital printing/finish/hand embellishments. I think if the public was more aware of the expense, technology, sophistication, care, prep and time, they would be impressed. Convergent Media is a way to begin to convey those steps.

  2. Barney, I do find it difficult educating the public on this subject in a quick concise way. Almost requires a ‘history of art’ lesson which can get involved and lengthy and probably boring to someone who just wants an image for the wall. And the choices and combinations with new technologies are more involved than ever.

    1. Hi Cliff, Your thoughts are well appreciated. It is easy for me to say, but when it comes to explaining, I think less and simpler is better. See my reply to Gary Kerr for my ideas on using Convergent Media. When someone sees an original, they don’t ask, and don’t need to know, it is on a Fredrix canvas with gesso and Charvin Extra Fine Artist Oils. If you don’t like Convergent Media, then simply stating it is the highest quality digital fine art reproduction. Hope that is helpful.

  3. We use the term archival pigment ink on canvas, fine art paper, plex, birch, or whatever it is printed on. I think old school believed that ‘print’ was something the artist hand was involved in creating. Where ‘reproduction’ inferred a mass production such as those created by publishers. Things have changed and it is h
    Great to know that trends can be followed on google.

  4. This is a quite powerful article and very helpful. Using Google Trend
    for art search is important to give the artist or anyone else with a niche the advantage. Also, perhaps more buyers are preferring to purchase canvas art over print art due to the durability of canvas.
    Thanks again!

  5. Tried watching the video above with your link however I keep getting the message “This is a private video.” Please advise.

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