Printing Wall Art: Brushed Metal Prints

Printing Wall Art: Brushed Metal Prints

When you're looking to have your work printed for display on your own wall, in your client's home, or in a gallery you have a myriad of choices and formats that you can print on. Today I'm taking a close look at one option, the brushed metal print.

As I've written about numerous times in the past, print work is something that holds a special place in my heart, seeing a favorite image printed and held in my hands just can't be beat. While I recognize that we live in a very digital age, I am simply not satisfied with my photos existing only as cellphone-sized images. I don't work on my favorite images for them to never be viewed larger than a few inches on a backlit little screen, no thank you. From fine art paper (of which there are many different options), to glass, metal, acrylic, wood, and anything else you can think of it is a great time to give serious thought to printing at least some of your work.

Today, I'm looking at a brushed metal wall print from Saal Digital. I'll admit that metal as a print medium is not my go-to format but that doesn't mean that it can't look amazing when properly done. This is an 11.8 x 17.7 brushed aluminum print and I'll be the first to say I'm impressed. In fact, I have this piece hung right above my computer monitor at my work desk right now. The basics are pretty simple, they print on a 3mm thick brushed aluminum panel and offer few different mounting options all of which are the float-style so the print appears to hover a bit off the wall.

I like the very angular and sharp clean lines of this product. It's both modern and stylish. The edges are hard lines with no rounding at the corners which I think adds to the more modern appeal of a product like this. If you've read any of my other pieces on print work, you know that I'm a huge fan of surface texture as I feel like it adds depth to the piece and I really appreciate the tactile nature of textured mediums. The metallic nature of the product has a fairly unique appearance and really shines in the highlights and negative space of the image. The brushed metal surface is sleek without being overly glossy or shiny, so glare is less of an issue with the brushed metal format than standard metal or glass for example.

I think that it's very important to consider the context of both the work and the medium when you go to print something and for metal, at least in my mind, this is particularly true. The nature of a metallic surface to me feels modern and when combined with the hard angular feel of this piece, it makes sense to try and print work that will be complimented by these factors. Clean architectural images, classic cars, motorcycles, and anything with a industrial vibe would likely excel in this format (fire breathing, welding, or sparks flying in an image would look alive here). I opted to select an image that I felt had a bit of an industrial vibe with the cool-tone cement, chain link fencing, trucks in the background, and the metallic pop of color from the aviator sunglasses and sunset over her shoulder.

I was also curious about a smaller version of the same brushed metal for display on a shelf or desktop. Something that would make a good add-on product or gift piece that doesn't break the bank. I went with a small 5.1 x 5.1 plaque with chrome feet as a base. What I like about this simple piece is that it both looks and feels like a high quality piece despite it's small size. This a fun and cute little product that uses the same metal surface as the larger print and is a something that would be ideal for filing out your bookshelf or nightstand with your photos. The same principles apply to the smaller plaque; choose work that benefits from the form for best results.

Of all the folks out there reading this piece, who among you has experimented with metal prints before (brushed metal or otherwise)? Is it a format that you find attractive? When it comes to displaying these pieces, where do you feel that they display best? Locations with modern design and ample lighting come to mind, possibly a kitchen or living room of a modern minimalist home? The hallways or lobby of sleek office building or hotel? Yeah, that sounds about right to me. I'd love some feedback and conversation regarding your own print experiences and if you have not tried a metal format before I would recommend trying it at least once so you can see for yourself if it's a form you're a fan of. For those interested in trying the brushed metal from Saal-Digital, you'll find more information here. Happy printing folks.

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10 Comments

Haven't use actual metal for prints but I do love the depth that the metallic paper gives

Actually have several from a couple different manufacturers, and waiting on a couple to arrive from Metal Mouth in a few days Im looking forward to seeing. I like the metal prints, although they do run a bit pricey.

Actually have several from a couple different manufacturers, and waiting on a couple to arrive from Metal Mouth in a few days Im looking forward to seeing. I like the metal prints, although they do run a bit pricey.

I have several 20X30 metal prints around my house. One day i'll have good enough picture from my A7R IV to splurge $600 for 40X60 metal print. One thing you should be careful about is a print placement. Metal prints are very reflective, so direct sunlight spoils metal print effect.

Roger Hølmen's picture

Hi, I work in the print business here in Norway. We have sold many of these sandwich aluminium plates with the brushed alu look. Both to private customers, and to huge companies with photos in their offices and lounge areas. Like you mention, it works well with photos of architecture, mechanical things, cars and so on. I wouldn`t print a nature photo on it. I have also sold a few of my own photos on brushed aluminium, and the customers have loved the look.

All I do now is metal prints for my wildlife shots, I don’t think I could go back to paper prints again. I have several 20x30 and 16x20 prints on my walls at home and have a spot for a 40x60 or a little bigger if they have them once I get the right shot. Hopefully I’ll get to Africa this year and get a chance for that shot.

John Belknap's picture

After I show my clients a metal print they then spend the extra money on one. The color pop and details a metal print gives off is like no other.

Spy Black's picture

It's an interesting market. I find their properties too specular for my tastes, I prefer pearlized polymer finishes that have wider fields of view. They're popular now tho, so for some markets they'll be attractive.

I've had very bad experiences with small metal and acrylic prints from Saal Digital and Mpix. Larger prints have been fine but the smaller ones in particular have been awful. So much so that I've had to request multiple refunds from them. Which to their credit Saal Digital gave me and Mpix did not. I've gone back and forth with their customer support at Saal telling me one thing and then receiving something that still had the exact same issue that they said wouldn't happen again. My experiences with both of those companies has been so bad that I will never use them again. It's a shame because I've heard good things about Saal Digital but from my multiple experiences it's not true.

Leon Kolenda's picture

Well, I have printed about 10 Metal images, most at 16x24" a few smaller, Most in the High Gloss, I have used Metal-Mouth, and Aluminize. Aluminize has done Awesome work, and when they run a sale at great prices, they are hard to beat. I know, have checked around. I have hung 4 in my small entranceway, I also added a really cool LED Track Light that I got at Home Depot, (See Pic) it comes with a remote to control the main light and the 4 Led track Lights, and they are very controllable to dimming, and light temperature. It was less than $100.00 I think.

This Track Light just makes these metal Prints just jump off the wall, I get so many compliments when people walk in, it's crazy. Also, by mounting the Track Light high, it placed No shadows on the prints, I'm going to get another one for a Hall Gallery that I'm getting ready to display on. I have done Printing myself with a very large format Canon Printer, sold it, this metal printing is just superior, Gloss as well as Semi-Matt, and Matt. No reason to have to mount to foam-core, matts, UV protected, don't collect a lot of dust that I can see. They are a win, win!

However, I could see using artistic paper or canvas for very special prints that you want to have that watercolor or painted look.