We are so often asked about storing and caring for prints that we thought it may be useful to list some of our recommendations here.
1. If you are going to frame the print have it done by a framer that will use conservation methods i.e. acid free board, acid free tape etc. - prints should always be framed with a mount and not be in direct contact with the glass.
2. Framed prints should be hung where they will not be subject to any direct sunlight - printing methods are much better these days but no print will survive direct sun. It is now possible to use a special UV filter type glass which will help reduce fading quite significantly. It is fairly expensive but should be considered for valuable prints. Some collectors also rotate their picture displays periodically, with the ones not on display being kept in a dark, dry storage area. This reduces the prints ‘lifetime’ exposure to light and also helps solve the problem of insufficient wall space to display a collection.
3. Unframed prints should be stored flat between acid free material and again kept away from unnecessary lighting. A browser sleeve from your local gallery is the ideal thing - the kind they use to display prints so that people can look through them without handling them.
4. You should physically touch the print as little as possible - even clean fingers will leave a small oily residue which will pick up dust - in the gallery we only ever handle prints with clean, lint-free white cotton gloves.
5. It is common misconception that the shipping tube is good place to store your prints - they are in fact a hostile environment, The tubes are usually made from a cheap cardboard material and chemicals are likely to leech out over time and damage the print – this often manifests itself in a light grey mottling known as ‘foxing’. Plus, every time you take the print out to show someone it receives unnecessary handling. Also prints that have been stored this way for many years may be impossible to get flat again. It is for this reason that we ship prints flat wherever possible - it costs us more in postage but it’s the best way.
6. Certificates - these are fairly important and will undermine a print’s value if you don’t have them or they are in bad condition. Store them carefully but not in with the prints as they are not generally printed on acid free paper. If you have a photocopier, or better still a digital camera, take a copy of each certificate and store it in a safe place, preferably at a different location to the prints. Then if you have a fire or theft it will make life much easier when it comes to making an insurance claim.
7. Signing events - we know that many collectors take prints to airshows and other signing events to have extra signatures added. The irony is that any extra value the signatures bring is usually more than offset by the condition the print ends up in after all the handling. Try taking one of the gallery browser sleeves mentioned above and cutting a window in it of suitable size and location so that it exposes just the bottom area of the print where you want it signed. In this way you dont need to handle the actual print at all and the minimum of area is exposed to potential damage.