Offbeat inkjet surfaces

A quick guide to unusual paper

Most photographic-quality prints to come out of an inkjet printer are on glossy, fairly thick paper that mimics the look and feel of prints that come from a pro lab.

You also have the option of printing on luster (also known as Velour) paper, which is not quite as reflective as glossy paper, and matte paper, which doesn’t reflect at all and is therefore more easily viewable, but it absorbs more ink.

But these three common paper types barely scratch the surface (pun intended). Look in the “Inkjet Specialized Media” category and you’ll find an entire world of funky, creative surfaces to print your images on.

Here are four personal favorites:

Stretchable canvas. There are two kinds of canvas print surfaces available—a canvas-textured surface that has similar characteristics to paper (you can’t stretch it without risking a tear) and stretchable canvas, which lends itself better to being placed on a traditional painter’s frame. Inkpress makes a line of stretchable, waterproof surfaces that are 100 percent acid and lignin free, and work well with pigment-based inks. If you just want the canvas look and don’t need to stretch it, there is an extensive array of non-stretch canvas surfaces available from over a dozen brands.

Poly silk fabric. Projet Smooth Silk Surface RC paper is a microporous paper that comes in a variety of sizes including 8x10, has a 230gsm weight, 95% brightness and 96% opacity.  Its fabric-like surface gives images on display a nice sheen.

T-shirt transfers. Remember iron-ons? You’d get artwork on a surface that you can transfer to your T-shirt by simply using a hot iron. The heat releases the artwork from its original binding and it binds to the fabric of the shirt. Well, you can create your own by designing it in Photoshop, then using iron-on transfer inkjet paper. It can be a photo, words, or a combination of both. Just remember to flip your photo (mirror image) and print that out, so it’ll come out right on the shirt. Since your shirt will probably wear out before the photo does, you needn’t worry about ink longevity so you can do this on any inkjet printer with any ink.

Magnet sheets. Everyone posts photos on their fridge. Why not make it easier? Print photos with a fridge-friendly magnetic surface! Avery’s Inkjet Magnet Sheets are a great promotional item but can also be used for a personalized photo gift. Available in 8.5x11-inch sheets, the paper is easy to cut into smaller sizes with scissors or a (more accurate) paper trimmer. 

What's your favorite offbeat inkjet surface? Leave a comment, below!


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