The longevity of ink jet prints? Depends on the substrate.

After a color-expert columnist suggested we really didn’t yet know what the archival quality of ink jet prints would be, I decided to do my own experiment.

Two years ago almost to this day, I printed out digital images of two paintings of mine, covered portions of them with several layers of opaque artist’s tape, and left them on the sunniest, south-facing windowsill in my house. There they sat undisturbed for a l-o-n-g time.

Results below. The one printed on glossy photo paper (Easter Island, WA) shows no visible signs of fading or discoloration at all. I can’t even tell where I put the tape. However, the one I printed on good-quality bright white office grade paper(Cleared Trail)  faded and discolored badly — particularly all the warm colors.

Cleared Trail

Original digital image for Fugitive Test 2, “Cleared Trail”

Fugitive Test 2 Ink jet print exposed for 2 years

HP Photosmart inkjet print “Cleared Trail” exposed to direct sunlight for 2 years, printed on bright white office paper

Fugitive Test 1: Easter Island, WA

HP Photosmart Inkjet print “Easter Island, WA” exposed to direct sunlight for 2 years, but printed on glossy photo paper