Many photographers are opting to print editions with inkjet printers as opposed to traditional darkrooms. The advantages are reduced expense as well as exposure to chemicals. Still, photographers selling prints worry about reduced archival quality in inkjet prints. Also, many photographers feel the texture and thickness of commercial inkjet papers are not as appealing as traditional photographic papers. However, there are products and techniques that enable photographers to print on attractive UV-stable and archival rag papers and achieve inkjet prints that meet and surpass traditional photographic prints in terms of UV resistance and archivability.
Print with an ink printer that supports pigment-based inks. They offer the best UV resistance.
Purchase 100 per cent cotton rag printmaking paper (available at art stores and online), and cut it to your desired printing size. Use 90 pound or 120 pound rag paper for most inkjet printers. Choose cold-press paper for a rougher textured surface, or hot-press paper for a smooth surface.
Coat the paper with a UV-resistant inkjet receptive pre-coating medium. Ink Aid and Golden are two producers of these mediums, which are available in art stores and online.
Apply two thin coats of pre-coat to the rag paper with a wide, flat paintbrush or sponge brush, allowing each layer to dry in between coatings. Thin the medium with a little water to reduce brush marks. Dry the coated paper for at least two hours, until it is no longer sticky to the touch.
Iron the coated paper until flat by turning it face down on a clean, dry surface, covering it with a flat, white cloth and running a very hot iron over it--very lightly.
Print the coated paper in your inkjet printer as you would any other high-quality, matt-surface inkjet paper.
Allow the print to dry for at least an hour.
Further enhance UV resistance by lightly spraying the dry print with matt-surface UV-protectant, non-yellowing, archival acrylic spray (available at art and photography supply stores.)
Finally, frame your print with UV-protectant glass, and you have created the most UV-resistant print possible with current home-printing technology.
Inkjet ink is only as archival as the paper on which you print your art. Always purchase non-acid, archival printmaking paper for your fine work. Don't worry if coated paper is slightly curled before running it through your inkjet printer. It will flatten out during the printing process. Blacks, greys and saturated colours will print darker on pre-coated papers than on uncoated papers. Adjust the grey-scale of your print accordingly.
Spray UV-protectant acrylic coatings outdoors or wear an appropriate mask. Fumes are very noxious. Wear vinyl or latex gloves when handling acrylic inkjet pre-coating substances.