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What is Canvas Material and Where It's Used

user iconby Gvido Grubeclock icon5 Minutescalender icon2023-12-15

We’re often asked: what is canvas fabric and where it’s used? Read on to find out how truly versatile and widely used canvas is today!

Canvas is the go-to material for a huge range of businesses. Each year our photo canvas prints alone amount to thousands of products made using canvas. But few people know how the famously robust and versatile fabric first came to be such a mainstay of industry. This article will give you the basic facts about our favorite print medium.

In This Article:

What Exactly is Canvas and What Makes it So Durable?

What is canvas made of. Close up photo of canvas fabric.

The history of canvas stretches back for millennia. The name could ultimately derive from the Greek word kannabis (meaning “hemp”). But though the ancient Greeks are often considered to have popularized the use of the fabric, cotton canvas is believed to have been woven in ancient India as early as 1500 BC.

So canvas is not only one of the most popular fabrics in history but also one of the most enduring.


While the early versions of canvas were usually made of linen, through its history the fabric has also been produced using flax, tow, and jute. Today it’s mostly made using linen or cotton, usually mixed with polyvinyl chloride. The extremely thick plain weave used in canvas makes it superbly durable – and perfect for uses that involve rough treatment and high pressure levels.

So how did a fabric used to produce bags, footwear, sails and tents end up being everyone’s first choice for photo printing?

How Canvas Became the Standard for Photo Printing

What is canvas made of. Image of industrial printer printing on canvas.

To understand how canvas became so widely used for painting and photo printing, we have to go back to 17th-century Europe. The fabric was already well-known by then, with the first attempts at using canvas for oil painting having been made back in the 14th century – but it was not until the early 17th century that the fabric replaced wooden panels as the predominant support medium for painting.

Renaissance painters had valued the material for its affordability and practical qualities. Canvas paintings dried far more quickly than frescos, and showed significantly slower deterioration than paintings on wooden panels.

What is canvas made of. Close up of two stretched canvas lying on table.

Over the course of the next four centuries, canvas proved simple and cost-effective to produce on an industrial scale. Made using readily available raw materials, produced with low production costs, and offering excellent visual qualities, canvas is an obvious choice of support medium for visual art. This had held true for oil paintings, acrylic paintings, embroidery – and now photo prints.

Why Choose Canvas for Your Prints?

As canvas is such a great all-rounder, printing your photos on canvas is relatively simple – meaning that we can produce first-class prints at a manageable cost, and of course pass on the benefit to you in the form of wallet-friendly prices.

It’s not just the fabric itself that gives you exceptional durability. You can forget any concerns about longevity when it comes to the print too.


What is canvas made of. Pile of photo canvas prints on table.

The canvas used by is specially designed for HP latex printing, and we use nothing but HP latex inks to reproduce your photos. In other words, the inks we use and the medium we print them on are perfectly aligned before the process even begins. And HP latex inks are UV-proof, meaning that you’re guaranteed a long-lasting home decor piece.

There might be alternatives out there, but no other medium has been tested by history as thoroughly as canvas – from the sailcloth of the ancient Greeks to the photo prints displayed in millions of American homes.

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