Until recently, I’ve never really thought too much about the quality of my art materials. I used the markers, paints, inks and papers I could afford as a broke student and I’ve just kept replacing them out of familiarity. Even though I was well aware that my pieces fade after a couple of years, I hadn’t taken the efforts to maximize their lifespan.
But now things have changed. I’ve been creating a lot more and it would be such a shame to see these pieces deteriorate. Further, I can't sell a piece of original artwork that won’t last the buyer more than a few good years (which is why I’ve only been selling archival prints). The biggest issue is that the acidity of cheap papers and inks react with light to fade and discolour the image. When I picked up my pieces from my first gallery exhibition (pictured above), the damage was so shockingly apparent. I was devastated; however, it was completely avoidable. So I’ve taken the following steps to ensure that my pieces survive as long as they can, and I thought I would share them in case any others out there are interested in increasing the longevity of their art:
1. Archival Materials
- Paper: switch to acid-free paper that won’t react to UV light and cause discoloration or fading. I'm having a bit of trouble with this one since I can only find one shade of brown from all of the stores I've checked.
- Mediums: switch to light fast or archival brands of markers and pens (ex. Prismacolor, Micron aind Faber-Castell). Luckily, I've already been using most of these brands and, after my current collection, I'm hoping to transition away from markers altogether.
- Frames or page protectors: make sure your framing materials or portfolio sheets are also archival (or at least acid-free) to preserve the image.
2. Varnishing Spray
- Protect images with the appropriate varnishing spray to prevent external light damage and internal acid damage.
3. Minimizing Exposure to Light
- Store or hang artwork away from strong light. Consider using a UV-resistant frame if you have to hang the artwork by a window.