Fine Art Paper - Pulp Friction Brought To Life
If you hope to present digital images that will be hung you must make sure they deserve to be*. This means a great deal of careful work before the printer whirrs - photographing, editing, critiquing. The printer that you choose and the inks that it will use are prime factors as well...but the chief thing that has to be right is the paper.
It has to last. People who pay money for pictures want those pictures to stay flat, stay clean, and stay the way they were when the money changed hands. Thus you need to search out archival-quality paper. "Archival Quality" is also a fraught phrase but at least there are some scientific standards for it - laboratories have established criteria for the longevity of paper and ink and published them. Various manufacturers tell us that their products meet these standards.
Of course, performance over a passage of time is only tested by the passage of that time. There might be a sales warranty issue on the Great Pyramid of Cheops over the stone facing that has fallen away...but the builders are nowhere to be found.
But back to your prints. Your surface needs to be appropriate to the image presented. Some people want canvas - some paper. Some want aluminium - they can all be accommodated these days. The papers can be smooth matt, smooth gloss, smooth semi-gloss, or can have texture imparted in the manufacture. Some are extremely rough, but if the image can be of blocky form this may be just perfect.
On a technical point - the heavy papers can be very heavy and you'll need to see if your printer can deal with the increased thickness. They may also have considerable warp and droop and you'll need to make provision to eliminate or cope with this as well. Crude as it sounds, you might find yourself doing a bit of judicious paper bending with your fingers before you press the start button.
You'll be confronted with some real choices in the base colour of the paper. Various words are bantered about; wheat, buff, cream, ivory, etc. but the end result is off-white. See if your image is one that will be complemented by this sort of thing or whether you'll need a clear white. these are available too.
Come in an browse amongst the Ilford, Hahnemuhle, and Permajet products. Some can be got in sheet form and some in roll. Sample packs are here so that you can experiment before lashing out for a full box.
* Either they hang or you do...