I move a lot. It’s kind of my thing. In the past sixteen years, I’ve called fourteen different places home and I’m currently packing up and getting ready to move again. One thing I’ve discovered over the years is that lightweight, self-contained art — like canvases — is easier and safer to move. I’m always open to trying out different vendors for printed products, so I was excited to give 365Canvas a try and see if their products would work well for my nomadic lifestyle.
As a young landscape photographer, just beginning to print my work and participate in photography shows, I was hyper-focused on the traditional route of printing on paper, matting, and framing. With each show, I would invest lots of money in archival prints, matboard, and attractive frames that didn’t feel cheap or flimsy. When you’re part of a show, there’s a massive investment of time and money with no guarantee on return. You spend the money and hope for the best, but whatever doesn’t sell, you bring home. Whenever I had leftover framed work I would hang what I could around the house, but then I would move again. Safely transporting my framed pieces made it more of a hassle when it was time to move.
Over the years, I’ve lost art in amazingly frustrating ways. I’ve arrived at a new place only to unbox and unwrap a framed photo and find the glass shattered in hundreds of pieces. I’ve painstakingly transported framed pieces only to hear that telltale pop in the back of the car and drive the rest of the way knowing I would arrive to a total loss of glass. I’ve discovered dinged corners, had hanging hardware fail, and pulled pieces out of storage to discover mildewed matboard. Enough is enough.
When I discovered printing on canvas I felt like it solved most of my problems. Canvases are light, they’re less susceptible to mildew, there’s no glass to break, and they are easy to wrap in just a few layers of bubble wrap. Now unless I have specific frame requirements for a show, I always opt for canvas.
The one problem that isn’t totally solved by printing on canvas is the price. Canvases can add up quickly if you want a deeper canvas (like two inches versus one inch) or if you want a larger size, or want to add a frame. I’ve spent anywhere between $175 and $350 on a single canvas — which, when you consider the calamity avoided while moving them, might be worth it.
Price was the first thing that appealed to me when I checked out 365Canvas’ website. An 18x24 canvas was just $79.95 (about $30 less than my usual canvas vendor) and the optional float mount frame was an additional $32.95. I opted for the frame add-on because as much as I love canvases, I don’t love having to lose any of the image's real estate to wrap around the sides.
When deciding which images to order for this test, I chose one black and white image with a lot of lighting nuance, and one composite image of the 2017 Solar Eclipse. I was curious to see how the nuanced light, strong contrasts, and bright oranges would render on the canvas.
Ordering was easy, though I would recommend sizing your image ahead of time for easier uploading. The company is headquartered in the U.S. but also has manufacturing facilities in Canada, Australia, Mexico, and the U.K., so they can accommodate international orders as well. Just a few minutes after placing my order I received a confirmation email, followed by emails letting me know when my order had shipped, when it was in transit, when it was out for delivery, and when it had been delivered. Living in a city of porch pirates, I was glad for the updates so I could make sure I got the order inside asap.
The canvas arrived well packaged and secure and I am really happy with the quality of the product. The eclipse shot is my favorite canvas of the two because the color rendered so nicely, the blacks are so even and smooth, and the mat surface of the canvas itself really suits the image. The frame is really simple but very nice and dresses it up a bit to make it feel like a finished piece. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the hanging hardware (sawtooth style) came pre-mounted and I had one less chore to do. The canvases also have rubber bumpers on the bottom edges to help them hang flush on the wall.
The landscape printed a bit darker than I had hoped, which is a common issue I’ve experienced in the past when working with a new print house for the first time. It takes an adjustment period to get your image settings dialed in to the point where you get what you expect. That said, it is a low key, moody image, so I’m still relatively happy with the results. Again, the frame is a really nice finishing touch and I’m glad I went for it.
There are quite a few canvas vendors to choose from on the market, some geared toward professionals, and some geared more towards the end consumer. I would say that 365Canvas is more geared towards the end consumer, but even as a professional, I would order from them again. Most of what they offer falls under the photo gifts and keepsakes category, things like desktop plaques, mugs, pillows, blankets and canvases. Many of their products are customizable, so small portrait studios would be able to order personalized gifts for their clients as a quick and easy "thank you" or up-sell.
It felt a little weird unpacking my newly arrived canvases as I pack up the rest of my home for my move, but I’m excited to know that I can put them right back in their packaging and send them on to my next place. Once I arrive they’ll be ready to take out of the box, hang easily, and make my new place feel home right away.