Images and fabric. This pairing has been made since the earliest days of photography in the 19th century. The act of printing photographs on canvas prints was not invented by Parrot Print Canvas – but we’ve perfected the art and passion of creating the highest quality canvas prints in the UK.

A Brief history of canvas printing

The age of image transfer by digital printer is new. Photos met fabric as early as 1840. A British portrait made with the ferro-prussiate technique is one of the earliest examples of photo transfer to canvas.

As the 19th century progressed, images began to be placed on such household objects as pillow tops and fire screens and such personal objects as handkerchiefs. In the 1870s, scenic photographs were transferred onto canvas in an early enterprise that touted the printed canvases as being “ready for the artist’s brush.”

Until the mid-20th century, photographers printed images directly onto sensitized fabric. However, a number of techniques had developed by the 1970s, including dye-transfer, and photo-screening. Transfer papers also began to be used with color laser printers to transfer images to fabric.

Today’s age of digital printing makes image transfer to canvas more accessible to more people. However, if you want premium, archival canvas prints, it is still wise to go to people who know how to put the best quality photos onto canvas.

Noted American artist Andy Warhol used a number of innovative techniques to create his iconic pop art images, among them screen printing. In fact, Warhol used this specific technique to make his famous 1962 portrait of Marilyn Monroe.

Screen printing uses stencils so that some areas are blocked and others are inked or painted. The stencils used in screen printing are made from mesh using an emulsion that hardens when exposed to light. A black and white photograph is then copied onto a transparent overlay, which is placed under the emulsion-coated mesh screen on top of a light box. The emulsion hardens everywhere except where the copied overlay blocks the light. The emulsion not hardened is washed away, creating a stencil of the original image.

Warhol’s creative use of this technique to transfer photographic images onto fabric made multiple printings of the same image easy and accessible. Warhol’s artful twist came from re-interpreting each separate image he printed with various colour schemes, making each screen-printed image new in its individuality.

But while Warhol created multiple prints, each was unique. Multiple printing is not the same thing as mass printing. Photos on canvas are enjoying a resurgence in mass popularity, and along with the mass popularity come mass printings of often questionable quality.

Parrot Print Canvas was founded by photographers to ensure that everyone in the UK has access to beautiful art made from custom photos—their own favourite images—transferred onto canvas.

If you care about fine art made from your personal images as much as we do, check out all the services we offer that make our custom canvas prints the finest available anywhere.

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