Art prints are valuable, but they are costly. Therefore, handling them with care is essential. Storing an art is technical. Flaking, chipping, and chemical reactions are challenging if art is not stored properly. If you care about your art collection, you can increase its lifespan miraculously. On the flip side, neglecting this crucial aspect can deteriorate the appearance of expensive paintings or prints.
Whether you are an art collector, artist, or art gallery, a proactive approach is required to preserve your assets. This art could be without a frame, framed, printed, or an original painting. We will cover it all in all aspects. So, let’s start with how to store art prints.
Which Is The Better Storage Method? Framed Or Unframed
Avoid storing your art in frames, as it is costly and covers a lot of space. Especially if you are a professional, this is not the option you should go with. Only frame the art when you need to hang it or for an exhibition.
Caution For Art Storage
- Don’t approach the art with your naked hands, as its paper is oil- or stain-absorbent. Instead, wear clean cotton gloves to handle the artwork during packing.
- People make the biggest mistake of using Newsprint as a layer between the art prints. They are highly acidic and can destroy your art prints. There is nitrocellulose fiber in them. To test, put them in sunlight for some time and see the discoloration. Your art prints will have a stained or dim color.
- Never keep the art prints in postal tubes for longer, as the paper tends to retain the shape it takes when rolled or folded. When you attempt to flatten it again, it will resist lying completely flat. Additionally, creasing, bending, fading due to humidity, or even tearing of the artwork could be the common consequences of storing it in a postal tube for an extended period.
Storing Unframed Art Prints
Art prints are easier to handle than original art. You need to store them in the boxes laid flat. So, what’s the recommended method? Don’t worry; follow the below steps.
The best method is to sandwich the prints on an acid-free foam core. This is a stable backing material made from foam without acid components. The foam core provides support and rigidity to prevent bending or warping of the art.
They act as a protective layer between the artwork and the foam core when layering multiple artworks for storage. They help prevent direct contact between the artwork and the backing material and reduce the risk of any potential surface damage. Glassine paper is the best layering material for keeping the prints separate.
Paper Conservation Corners:
These are the paper corners that you can make on your own to protect the four corners of your artwork from being damaged or folded. To do so, take a piece of paper, fold two sides from the top to make a triangular shape, and tape them to secure them. Now, set these angles on the four corners of the art prints.
These are large, horizontal storage cabinets or drawers designed for storing flat items such as paper, artwork, maps, or other large documents. Flat files are the best way to store your art while keeping it flat and protecting the corners. You can keep them in acid-free plastic sleeves to protect them from debris and dust.
In another method, you can keep a layer of glassine between the prints to protect them from harm. Buying these drawers is highly recommended if you are working professionally. There is also an option to get second-hand flat files. The best place to get them is on Craigslist, or contact a media agency if they are selling the unused ones. Additionally, these drawers help accommodate large prints.
These boxes are an affordable option when you can’t afford flat files. Buy a box and keep your print inside. You can separate them with glassine paper. This way, you can stash a few more prints the same way in a single box. Store these boxes in a mild environment. This is the most effective way when you are looking to store artwork at home.
This method is effective when your art prints are smaller in size. The portfolio is a file-sized plastic folder that keeps the pager organized and categorized. Storing art prints in this folder requires less effort, is easily accessible, and is affordable. This method is effective for students, hobbyists, or home business owners.
Rag Museum Mounting Board
Place your art prints on the rag museum mounting board or acid-free cardstock. Use some tape to hinge the corners and insert an acid-free glassine or tissue (cheaper option) between each print. This way, you can store multiple layers of art prints without worrying about molding or folding.
In addition to the above, you can also use the following:
- Crystal Clear Bag
- Acetate Bags
- Cello Wrap
- Drafting Vellum Sheets
How To Store Paintings In Frames
Storing painting frames is relatively straightforward. You can purchase a rack or create a DIY version to arrange all your paintings. Before storing, wrap each frame in bubble wrap or brown paper to shield the frame and glass from pollutants. Another cost-effective method is to lean the artwork against the wall while keeping it elevated from the floor. This helps protect against dust, debris, or water. A simple plastic bin or table underneath can serve this purpose.
Important Tips To Remember
In storing art, providing the correct environment for the artwork is essential. This includes humidity, moisture, sunlight, and weather. So you have to keep the below points in mind.
Save From Sunlight
Direct sunlight is detrimental to the health of anything. Be they clothes, furniture, or art pieces. Sunlight has very high ultraviolet rays that can cause the pigments or dyes in the art prints to fade. If needed, don’t hang prints for more than two weeks.
Prints are generally produced through giclee printing techniques using papers such as fine art paper. Although the paper and ink are of high quality, exposing them to harsh sunlight for a long time is not recommended at all. This can cause ink to become beached. There are also various other techniques for fine art prints.
The power of sunlight resistance can vary with the type of technique used. At the Miguel Camarena Art Gallery in Cave Creek, Arizona, all the giclees are printed using high-quality acrylic paint on real museum-quality canvas, not ink, and are professionally sealed; therefore, they fare better in harsher environments and weather than your average print.
When it comes to original acrylic art, it fades more quickly than art prints. Similarly, watercolor paintings are fragile when exposed to sunlight, causing the colors to vanish more rapidly.
Store Art In A Dark Place
Storing art in a dark place doesn’t mean that you have to keep it in a completely pitch-black room. Instead, it means that you should keep all the blinds and curtains down in the room where art is stored. This will help to maintain the color hues of your prints.
However, acrylic paint gets darker when kept in a dark place for a long time. So, make sure to adjust the light accordingly.
Avoid Deep Cleaning
When the purpose of art is purely to store it for a long time, you should avoid wet cleaning. No matter how light the method you choose to clean, it is always better to keep the moisture away from the painting. If you choose the boxes that will store your prints, they are unlikely to gather dust or grime.
If ever there is a need to clean the prints or paintings, use the soft bristle brush to dust them off. Be mindful. Don’t try to rub hard or remove the flakes. On the other hand, wet cleaning should be practiced when art is already displayed, and cleaning is a dire need.
Maintain The Atmosphere
Controlling the humidity is essential to restrain the chemical reactions in the artwork. The most common reactions include fading, yellowing, and foxing (brownish spots or stains on paper) due to atmospheric elements.
Maintaining a humidity level of 55% is considered optimal in the storage area or gallery. Therefore, it is important to install a hygrometer to maintain the atmosphere. You can also choose the option of exhaust fans. Although they are not ideal for controlling the overall humidity, they can remove stale and moisture-laden air from an enclosed space, which can help with ventilation and air circulation. Another option is to go with air blowers.
Protect From Heat And Pollution
Heat is not good, as it can manifest the acid in the paper. Proper heating for storage space is always recommended, especially in the summer. Heating can cause fading, yellowing, dryness, brittleness, and warping, causing prints to curl or buckle. This is why big art exhibitors pay special attention to managing the heat control system in their premises for their art's longevity.
Separate The Artwork
Storing unframed artwork without any protective layers can damage the surface due to moisture. Therefore, always layer your art with some acid-free paper between them. These papers are cheap and can save you a lot of money in the long run regarding art protection.
A Treasure For Art Collectors
Art prints are a great investment in the long run, especially if you have invested in limited-edition prints. Here at Miguel Camarena Art Gallery, you will find an exclusive art collection that is hard to locate anywhere else. The art gallery is heaven for art collectors, providing affordable and premium quality prints. Start building your art collection with us today.
Overall, storing art prints can be as simple as making them and as complex if you don't have the proper knowledge. Various art storage methods include cabinets, flat files, art portfolios, or solander boxes. While doing so, make sure to keep the glassine paper or acid-free tissue in between the prints. While handling, use gloves to avoid stains. In addition, try to protect your art from sunlight, heat, humidity, and pollution.
What is the best way to protect art prints?
There are various methods to protect art prints, such as using flat files, collector boxes, glassine paper, acid-free plastic sleeves, a portfolio folder, etc.
How do you store printmaking prints?
Professional printmakers have these giant flat files or racks to store prints. They use acid-free paper to separate the prints and protect them from ink deterioration. This way, the prints are straight and flat, while quality remains fine and secured from dust, oil, debris, and pollution.
How do you store large prints?
There are several types and designs of art storage racks, including flat files. These storage units are available for purchase or built by developers on order, keeping the need for storage in mind.