You’ve probably guessed that archival quality has something to do with longevity. This blog post looks at choices for optimizing the quality of your prints and their presentation so they last as long as possible.
The single most important foe of longevity for your prints is acid, though other items come close behind. A primary goal of archival workflows is to eliminate acid at every turn. Acid is invisible, yet over time can cause such damage to your work as to ruin it.
In other blog articles on this site items 2–8 are discussed in detail. This article focuses exclusively on the surfaces on which you print.
Substrates is a term used in printing to include anything on which an image can be printed. It’s a useful word, since it includes things that are usually not called paper but are printable, such as canvas, glass, metal, foil, plastic/acrylic, papers with fragments of flowers and leaves embedded for design effects, paper made from unusual materials such as sugar cane, etc.
Once you’ve selected your substrate, what you put on the paper is just as important. Printer manufacturers have spent millions researching and developing the inksets used in their printers, attempting to expand both the range of colors (gamut) their printers can deliver while extending longevity of the finished prints.