There are several hard facts that are a certainty in life, Taxes, Death and without exception your hard drives, CD’s , memory sticks, mobile phones and computers will FAIL
Whilst rummaging through a cupboard, I rediscovered some old family photos circa 1888 and was overjoyed at looking at long lost relatives. This got me wondering, would there be the same excitement in finding an old hard drive by future generations? – would the drive work and if it did fire up would there be the programmes or interface to even access the files? Perhaps this is the paradox of our digitally connected society where digital images are now so readily available, cheap to record and share. Without a hard print there is a danger that these images will certainly become lost and unretrievable. To print the very best of your images creates not only a pleasurable item and lasting memory, but also a legacy for our future generations.
So what are the archival properties of the ink paper combinations used in the studio? As with anything to do with archival estimations there has to be an assumption as to how the print is to be displayed. If it is a bare print exposed to moisture, pollution, heat and sunlight left on the sideboard, then the archival qualities will be a lot less than a print sandwiched between acid free paper inside the pages of a book.
The excellent Wilhelm Imaging Research undertake accelerated ageing tests on inks and media combinations and storage conditions.
Different papers have slightly different archival characteristics but as a bench mark, using Canon Pigment Inks and Hahnemule Photo Rag, a framed print will last 95 – 125 years before noticeable fading or changes in colour balance. This should be very reassuring to an Artist selling Giclee prints as you can be assured that a properly framed print will last a lifetime. Unframed prints should be kept between acid free tissue and preferably away from moisture in the dark. A print preserved this way will last for up to 300 years. Exposed areas of paper can absorb many things including , pollen, pollution and moisture and this can cause discolouration of the paper base. If the print is left on the sideboard unprotected in the sun by an open window next to a busy street then its 42 years before the print colour begins to change! So if after 42 years your print shows signs of fading then drop in and I will make you coffee and a new one.