Over the weekend, I shared a photo of one of the walls in our home on Instagram. The photo is of the large wall in our living room area adorned with three large canvas prints of some of my favorite musicians. I first did this when I moved downtown in August of 2012, and I shared some of the photos and process back on AbsolutePunk.net and my old Tumblr (remember Tumblr?). After all of the questions and comments on the social media posts, I realized I didn’t have a good article to link people to that answered the basics any longer. Plus, phone cameras have come a long way since 2012.
Here are the basics: Pretty much no matter what size you’re printing, you’ll need very high-resolution images. They should be at least 300 DPI and ideally as large as you can get. For example, the canvas prints in our main room are 40 × 30 inches and the Jimmy Eat World photo on the far left is 300 DPI and 5184 × 3456. It looks crisp, clean, and even up close, the lines look great.
The Hayley Williams photo is 300 DPI and 5343 × 3562 and extremely crisp with no banding or blurring.
The Brian Fallon photo on the far right is 4288 × 2687 but only 72 DPI. From a distance, it looks pretty good, but up close, you can see a pretty significant change in print quality. It’s slightly blurry, and the lights and details don’t look nearly as good. I liked the image so much I was willing to deal with the quality loss at this size.
As for the images themselves, ask photographers if you can purchase the high-resolution digital file for their prints. Often, if you promise you won’t re-sell their work, they’ll sell you the file for your print. Not only are you compensating the artist, but you’ll be getting a far better image quality than anything you download off Google Images. The other place to look for photos is from photographers who put their pictures up under reuse or royalty-free licenses. For example, I found the Hayley Williams from Paramore photo on Wikimedia Commons. You can also search Google and Flickr by license and see what people have shared.
There are various places online that offer canvas prints, but my recommendation has always been Costco Photo Center. I’ve been thrilled with the quality, and their online service is reasonably straight forward for uploading your images, selecting your product, and getting your prints in a timely fashion.
While the larger prints are great for a large wall, I also really like the 14 × 14 sizes that I have in the bedroom.
- Buy or use royalty-free images.
- Get very high-resolution images for large prints.
- Make sure any editing you do on the photo is lossless. Don’t use online image converters or editors.
- Costco Photo Center does great canvas prints.
- Music on your walls rules. It’s like being a teenager with posters, but adult.
Also Cool: Metal Prints
You may also be interested in metal prints. We recently had one of our wedding engagement photos printed on metal to hang above the bed, and I think it turned out pretty damn good. It’s a different vibe than the canvas, where I prefer black and white, because the colors end up really popping and reflecting.