Rewind the record around 64,000 years and you’ll find that even our earliest incarnations had a hankering for wall art. The theories go that cave paintings were used to document hunting expeditions, venerate certain animals, or even invoke some sort of magic. Fast forward to today and that much might not have changed.
In the 21st Century, prints are a great way to document gigs and land-mark moments in a band’s history. They’re the perfect way to capture the feeling of a specific moment in music or to invoke the feeling of magic that surrounds a particular event or band-member. Maybe we’re not that different to our early ancestors.
However, unless your landlord has a fondness for Neolithic art or you’re not that bothered about affecting the asking price for your home, splattering the walls with your own interpretation of a musical giant might not be such a good idea.
Which is where prints come in.
Art for Art’s Sake
Whether you’re a student, a music fan, a serious collector, or someone who wants to add something of their personality to a room, music prints are the perfect way to, metaphorically (and semi-literally) nail your colours to the mast. However, the images that we want to wear on our walls tend to be a lot more intricate than those composed of charcoal and animal fat, and the walls of our homes tend to be a lot less forgiving of prints than rock was to Stone Age artists.
If you’re looking to capture those special memories or wear your musical heart on your sleeve, music prints are where it’s at. At Burst Gallery, we’ve been selling some of the rarest and most sought-after images of musicians and bands to fans and aficionados for over 40 years. While we might not be able to guarantee that your prints will be uncovered, intact, by future archaeologists, we can assure that, if you follow our tips and tricks, you’ll get the best out of your prints – and walls – for a long time to come.
How to Stick Prints to Your Wall Without Damage: Back to Basics
While it might seem like a good idea to break out the Blu Tack and get the ball rolling, in order to minimise the potential for any damage, there are a few things to think about. The first one is the print itself.
1. Sticky Fingers
It might sound a bit dull, but before you go anywhere near handling your piece of wall art, wash your hands. Grease, dirt, and dust can all leave unsightly blemishes on the image, which are often picked out by the light, in the form of shiny fingerprints and smears. In a worst-case scenario, if you have anything acidic on your fingers, it can cause the print to smudge and your print will look far from its best.
There’s no need to invest in any magical sanitising liquid. A good wash with soap and water should cover all the bases, but do make sure your hands are completely dry, before you do anything else.
2. Flat-pack Philosophy
Unless you’ve specifically ordered a music print to be flat-packed, the chances are that yours will arrive rolled up. At Burst Gallery, we do everything in our power to ensure that your print or print arrives in tip-top condition, but we know that this isn’t the same everywhere.
If your print is rolled, you’ll need to take a little time to flatten it out. Not only does this make it easier to work with, but it helps to prevent it slowly curling in on itself once you’ve put it up. The slow curling process has been responsible for many an image falling from a wall in the middle of the night – which can result in damage to both it and any paint or plasterwork underneath.
- The flattening process, in the trade, is known as ‘curing’. For the best results, put your print on a flat surface, with the printed side facing up. Then, it’s simply a matter of putting weights on it, particularly on the corners, and allowing it to rest. Anything with a flat surface will do, such as heavy books.
- The length of resting time will depend on how tightly the picture has been rolled and how long it has been stored in that manner. As a rule of thumb, eight hours should see it right but, if there’s some major curlage going on, then you might want to leave it for around 24 hours.
- Testing whether your print is ready is easy enough: just lift your chosen weights from the picture and see how much or how little it rolls back up. Once it remains flat, you’re good to go.
It’s worth saying that if your music print is already flat, then you can skip this step and move onto the next one.
3. Off the Wall
It’s not sticky tape time just yet (and, if you follow our advice, you won’t be using it anyway!).
Next on the list is to prepare the wall that your music print is going to call home. The reason for this is that any oils on the surface, dust, dirt, or grime, are going to interfere with your chosen print-sticking substance. This means that while your Bob Marley or Noel Gallagher print might sit tight for a day or two, the chances of it staying put for any length of time are going to be significantly compromised.
- Choose your spot and then give it a wipe down. This part of the process doesn’t require any industrial cleaning: a little washing-up liquid and some warm water should be enough.
- Once you’ve applied the soap, give it another wipe down with clean water, before drying it with a clean cloth.
- Just to be on the safe side, you can leave it for an hour, just to make sure that any residual moisture has evaporated. We have heard stories of hardcore collectors waving a hairdryer over the area, just to be doubly sure but, as long as you’re sure the wall is dry, this shouldn’t be necessary.
4. Stuck Like Glue
What to choose to stick prints to a wall has been a bone of contention amongst music fans and collectors for years. However, we want you to enjoy your print for as long as possible, so we’ve done some serious digging on the subject. Whether you’re a debt-saddled student or money isn’t a question, we’ve come up with four options.
- Poster Tape
Also known as mounting tape, this is relatively inexpensive and does the job quickly. Poster tape is specifically designed for hanging posters and prints and has an adhesive surface on both sides. You can buy it in pre-cut strips or in a roll, which allows you to cut to size. Some poster tapes are designed for heavy-duty hanging, which won’t matter if you’re displaying a piece of lightweight wall art. Heavy-duty tapes are best avoided, as they stick hard and fast and may damage your wall or print, when the time comes to take it down.
When that day does arrive, many print collectors use a piece of string, to ensure safe removal. Begin by gently peeling the poster away from the tape, at the corners. If there’s any resistance, use a thin piece of string like a cheese-wire and gently manoeuvre it between the wall and the tape, until the adhesive gives up its grip.
- Magic Tape
Magic Tape has its pros and cons. Just like poster tape, it has an adhesive on either surface, so you stick it to the back of the print and then fix it to the wall. Most magic tape is transparent, so there’s much less chance of you being able to see opaque patches through the print.
On the downside, it’s not as long-lasting as print tape and will eventually give up the ghost. However, if you’re looking for something to get the job done quickly and for very little investment, then this’ll do, even as a temporary measure. On the upside, its less-permanent adhesion does mean that it’s easier to remove from both your print and the wall, reducing the risk of damage.
- Velcro Tabs
Although Velcro tabs were initially designed for hanging light pieces of wall-furniture, such as hooks and small mirrors, they’ve become a popular way of displaying wall art.
Essentially, Velcro tabs are two Velcro strips, each with an adhesive surface on the opposite side. Press them together and remove the cover strip from one, which you then fix to your print. Once you’ve fixed the right number of tans to the back of your print, remove the set of cover strips facing you and pop your picture in place.
Velcro tabs are better for more heavyweight prints, perhaps those on a cardboard mount or laminated in heavy plastic. They make it easy to separate the print from its fixings and the flexible fabric they’re made from make it much simpler to remove from walls and the back of the image.
- Mounting Putty
Mounting putty has been the saviour of teenagers for decades. However, it’s not for everyone. If you just want to get your print up quickly and you’re not too fussed about keeping it looking pristine, then it certainly does what it says on the tin. However, if you’re looking for a more professional finish, then there are some things to think about.
Putty of this sort is malleable and tacky and will stick to most surfaces – although not forever. After a period of time, it loses its tack, generally from the upper corners. While cleaning your wall in advance can help, it won’t prevent the inevitable. The result tends to be that you find yourself looking at the back of your print, as it falls down over itself, suspended only by the bottom corners.
The other problem is that it’s putty. As most of us know, you’ll see it through the print’s surface, in the form of lumps. Add to the that the fact that you’ll have to give it a press to ensure it sticks as well as it can and it’s the perfect recipe for finger-stains and marks on the printed surface. In addition, if your poster is lightweight, there’s the risk of the poster snarling up at the corners, as the putty contracts in colder temperatures.
On top of that, mounting putty isn’t particularly friendly to poorly-painted or plastered walls. There can’t be many of us who haven’t pulled away a blob of the blue stuff, only to find some emulsion or plasterwork has come away with it. However, if you’re not too worried about this side of things, mounting putty is a quick and simple solution to getting a lightweight poster up on the wall, in next to no time.
5. I Heard it Through the Grapevine
We’ve heard endless solutions to getting prints up on walls. The two that we really don’t recommend are toothpaste or shampoo. Believe it or not, there are countless stories of people putting blobs of toothpaste on the backs of posters, to act as a temporary glue. Similarly, the stuff you wash your hair with has somehow found its way onto some people’s lists of alternative adhesives.
In our experience, these simply don’t work. There’s also the risk of chemicals either damaging the print or bleeding through the paper and causing damage to the image itself. While you might get a minty-fresh smell or that out-of-the salon sheen out of it, our advice is to steer clear of these ideas.
The other solution is the humble drawing-pin. While there’s no doubting that these work, puncturing both your print and your wall might be something that you later regret.
6. Every Picture Tells a Story
To preserve, protect and show off your music print at its best, the ultimate option is to have it mounted and framed. Framing transforms an image from a simple picture to something more sophisticated and timeless. On top of that, all you need is some picture wire and a hook or two and your print can take pride of place on your wall.
At Burst Gallery, we supply music prints, pictures, and wall art from some of the best bands and music photographers on the planet. Because we use cutting-edge technology to ensure that the images you receive are reproduced to the highest standards, we’re always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to show them off. If you’ve got any ideas that we’ve overlooked, get in touch, and let us know in the Comments below.