Choice of Paper
The choice of paper for fine art prints is very personal. More types of archival papers suitable for digital printing than ever are now available, providing artists with an incredible variety of choices. Such a plethora of choices can also be overwhelming, and I will work with you to find the best paper for your particular needs and artistic intent.
Most artists choose to print on matte, glossy, or semi-luster papers. Below I describe a few papers that I have found to produce stellar results for my clients, but I have many more in stock beyond these to fit any particular application. Many papers are limited, however, in the sizes in which they are available, so for large prints the paper choices dwindle somewhat. Another factor to consider is the presence of optical brightening agents (OBA's), an element added to many papers that adds additional brightness at the possible risk of decreased archival ratings.
Matte Fine Art Papers
Epson Velvet Fine Art
A very popular matte paper, VFA offers a very high dynamic range and can produce absolutely lovely color and B&W images. VFA has some texture that adds quite a bit of character but does not intrude upon the image. VFA uses optical brighteners but still possesses good archival characteristics. Only available in sheets 17×22 inch or smaller.
Canson Infinity Rag Photographique
A new paper from Canson, Rag Photographique is a 100% cotton fine art paper that is bright without using optical OBA's. With a smooth surface, it is suitable for both art reproductions and any type of photographic print. A lovely, versatile paper that is fast becoming a favorite.
Hahnemühle Museum Etching
A very thick and lightly textured art paper with no OBA’s, Museum Etching is one of my favorite matte papers. It is a natural white and is not quite as white as Velvet Fine Art or Photographique but has a significant presence. It is particularly suited for art reproductions but is great for any work that does not rely on detail. HME also resists flaking and damage more than many other papers.
Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308
One of the most popular matte papers, HPR is a 100% cotton paper with slight OBA’s and a lightly textured surface. With good dynamic range and a very pleasing feel, it is one of the best general purpose papers. Very beautiful paper.
Epson Hot Press Bright
Epson Hot Press Bright is a cotton rag paper with a smooth surface and high capability to produce punchy images that is becoming increasingly popular. It is a bit brighter and whiter than Canson Infinity Rag Photographique (due to the presence of OBA's).
Lustre & Glossy Fine Art Papers
Canson Infinity Platine Fiber Rag
One of the best papers for digital printing (review here). Platine Fiber Rag is a fiber-based lustre paper with a 100% cotton rag base, no OBA’s, and a lightly stippled surface. At the present it is my favorite paper and what I use for most of my personal work. Besides the very nice stippled surface, it has superb image quality (though not quite as much range as some of its competitors) and a great feel in the hand.
Harman Gloss Baryta
A fiber-based glossy paper with a very smooth baryta surface is the closest paper in many ways to a traditional gelatin silver black & white paper. A combination of some OBA’s and the baryta surface result in a relatively bright white base to the paper that is cooler than Photo Rag Baryta and Gold Fibre Silk. While this is one of the most popular papers for B&W work, it also excels for color work because of its great feel and ability to display a wide range of saturation and colors. My only criticisms are that it has a slightly plasticy feel in the hand and is also very susceptible to scratching.
Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta
One of my favorite papers (along with Platine Fiber Rag above), HPRB is a fiber-based lustre with a 100% cotton rag base and a baryta surface with no OBA’s. It has a lightly textured surface that is one of the most pleasing of all the lustre papers. It is best for warmer images because of its lack of OBAs. One of the best for both color and B&W work.
Canson Baryta Photographique/Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk
These two almost identical papers are lustre papers with lightly textured, very pleasing surfaces and an alpha-cellulose base. They are similar in many ways to Photo Rag Baryta but not quite as warm and but still do not contain OBAs. The texture is a little bit lighter and the paper not quite as thick when compared to Photo Rag Baryta. A very popular paper for both color and B&W.