Many, many years ago, I uploaded one of my favorite photos to an online printing service, ordered a small canvas, and waited patiently for it to arrive at my door.
When I opened that first canvas, I was...not impressed.
As it turns out, there's a lot more that goes into getting a gorgeous canvas print than simply uploading a pretty picture to a random printing website.
I learned my lesson, though, and despite making many more mistakes in the years since, I've developed a pretty good system for getting the best-quality canvas possible.
Here's my top tips for avoiding mistakes when printing your photos on canvas and getting top-notch results like those seen in the image above.
Mistake #1: Choosing a Printer That Uses Recycled Ink
There's a time and a place for using recycled ink. Printing photos is not one of them.
For day-to-day printing, knock yourself out with recycled ink. It'll get the job done and be cheaper, too.
But when it comes time to print photos, you need to find a printing company that uses the real thing.
It's simple: original inks offer far better color accuracy.
That's true whether you're printing something on your inkjet at home or whether you've placed an order for a new canvas print.
What's more, some photo printing companies use normal, everyday inks that are just fine, but why would you settle for "just fine" when you can have the best?
As far as I'm concerned, the best is latex inks that are mixed with a positively charged optimizer to get an instant waterproof bond between the printer and canvas.
Not only does that mean you get a high-quality, durable canvas, but you also get one with impeccable colors.
Be sure to do your due diligence when selecting a canvas printer, and make sure they only use top-quality inks so you get the best results, like the canvases shown in the image above.
Mistake #2: Not Considering the Layout of the Photo Before Ordering
This seems like a Captain Obvious point, but you'd be surprised how many people rush through the ordering process and get a portrait orientation print of a landscape oriented photo.
The results, shall we say, are not good...
I enjoy woodworking, and there's a saying in the builder community that applies to photo printing as well: measure twice and cut once.
If you're going to get the type of results you want, you need to double-check everything before you press the button to order.
Get the dimensions right, ensure you've chosen the finish and type of hanger you want, and for goodness sake's, be absolutely sure that the canvas size you choose aligns with the type of photo you have!
If you take the time to do it right, you can get gorgeous prints like those above, that capture your favorite memories in stunning style.
Mistake #3: You Don't Research the Printer
You've done all the hard work and created an amazing shot that will look like a million bucks as a canvas print on your wall.
But when it comes time to selecting a printer to make the canvas, you drop the ball, take a shortcut, and neglect to research the quality of the work that the printer puts out.
I personally have a ton of my photos printed and hanging throughout my home, and in my efforts to get all those prints, I've experienced the bad, the good, and the extraordinary amongst printers.
That's why these days my canvas prints are done exclusively by a company that has serious pedigree when it comes to the process they use for creating prints.
That company is CanvasHQ - the dream team that's pictured above!
There's a lot to love about CanvasHQ, and I'll expound on some of their best qualities in other points, but for right now, I just want to focus on quality.
The whole point of having a print made - canvas or otherwise - is to showcase a gorgeous photo.
You can't do that if you opt for a printer that has a shady track record of quality!
With CanvasHQ, you know exactly what you're getting because they give you free digital proofs to inspect their work before you buy.
What's more, if you find that your prints are quite spot on - for example, if you don't like an image effect that you picked - CanvasHQ will make changes or get rid of the effect altogether.
They even offer a 100 percent guarantee on their canvases. That means you either get your money refunded or they'll remake your print to get it right.
That's what I call a commitment to making high-quality prints!
Mistake #4: You Get the Wrong Finish for the Type of Photo
Certainly, when you choose the finish of the canvas you purchase, it's a personal choice of how you want the image to look.
But despite that, some finishes are better suited to certain applications better than others.
For example, a matte finish is great for high contrast images that have complex color combinations. Matte is also a good choice when darker colors predominate the photo and for portraits.
On the other hand, a semi-gloss finish is ideal for shots that have rich colors and detail. The semi-gloss finish simulates an oil painting, making it a top choice for landscape photos.
Glossy finishes tend to be the best for art reproductions because they intensify the feeling of depth in the shot. This is achieved by enhancing the tonal characteristics of the image.
Lastly, some printing companies offer an iridescent finish, which has a pearlescent luster that reflects light. That makes it the perfect accompaniment to images that have water or city lights.
So, when you choose a finish for your canvas, don't make the mistake of simply selecting what looks pretty on the screen.
Instead, put some thought into the qualities and features of your photo so you can choose a finish that makes your image even better.
Mistake #5: You Neglect to Think About the Frame on Canvas Prints
Sure, you don't see the frame behind a canvas print, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a crucial element to the appearance of the image.
For starters, a canvas needs a strong, solid frame that can hold the tension of a stretched canvas.
And it needs to hold that tension not just for a few weeks or months, but for generations.
The way to build a frame like that is to start with kiln-dried super premium pine.
But it also needs to be cut and assembled with precision to create the perfect backing for a canvas print.
Guess who does that?
You got it - CanvasHQ.
Their frames are cut using precision saws, and then they're assembled using jigs.
That means that every single frame they make is straight, true, and adheres to CanvasHQ's strict specifications.
The result of that is that you get a high-quality canvas print that won't sag over the years, and will instead be a beautiful addition to your wall for generations.
Mistake #6: The Image Format is Wrong
Some printers only accept images in JPEG or TIFF format. That means if you have a PNG, a GIF, or a BMP, you're out of luck.
However, other printers, like CanvasHQ, accepts all of those file formats.
In fact, if you have another file type, say, a PSD file from Photoshop, just send it to CanvasHQ, they'll convert it to one of the file formats listed above, and send the new file back to you so that you can complete the order process.
So, I suppose the mistake here isn't having the wrong image format, but the mistake is not using CanvasHQ!
Mistake #7: The Image Resolution or Quality is Off
We're fortunate in that today's cameras - even the ones on modern mobile phones - offer excellent resolution for printing on canvas.
Now, this doesn't mean that you can take a photo on your phone and have it printed on a 6-foot-wide canvas.
However, images from your phone have enough resolution to get a sharp result on a smaller print.
You can even have canvas prints made of old, printed photos, too, as seen above.
The trick is to select printed photos that are the right size (usually no larger than 12"x18") and which don't have any stains, tears, creases, and so forth.
That's because the printing company with make a high-resolution scan of the image for printing, and if there's damage to the original photo, it could show up on the canvas.
When planning to have a print made on canvas, just bear in mind that the higher the resolution, the better!
Mistake #8: Choosing a Cheap Printing Company
My last tip is simple: if you want a high-quality canvas print, go with a high-quality canvas printing company.
I understand the lure of getting a canvas print on the cheap, but like so many things in life, you get what you pay for.
Cheap canvases are more likely to sag over time, have colors that fade, and have frames that crack and bow.
That being the case, what's the point of even spending time ordering a cheap canvas if it isn't going to last?
Besides, those el cheapo canvas printing companies never have quality customer service, money-back guarantees, fast shipping, or any of the other amenities offered by the likes of CanvasHQ.
I know I'm gushing a bit about the quality, craftsmanship, and customer service from CanvasHQ, but as someone that's ordered prints from tons of outfits over the years - and made plenty of mistakes along the way - trust me when I say that CanvasHQ is the best in the business.
The image above shows just a few of the canvases I've ordered from these guys, and I will certainly be ordering more in the future! They are that good!