Artist FAQ: What You Need to Know About ALTO™ and Public Art

For an artist, quality reproduction is paramount. Traditional printing and reproduction methods often don't meet the needs of large-scale public art installations. Durability, vibrancy, easy maintenance and long-term security are just a few of the challenges facing anyone working on a public art project, and we've developed the the solution.


Whether you're an artist looking to take your art into the public sphere, a design firm searching for durable exterior materials, or a cultural organization looking for ways to color your community, this FAQ is designed to answer your questions.


Here are the top questions we are asked by artists


1. How do you reproduce the artwork?

We start by getting high-resolution images of artwork, be they digital artwork or photos or photographs of physical paintings or drawings. Every image goes through an in-depth pre-press process, during which our graphic design team optimizes the digital file for printing. During this time, we also check all the technical specifications for the final project, like size, shape and installation requirements.

We pay special attention to color matching, so the final result matches the artist’s vision. We are experts with the world’s most recognized color systems, such as Pantone and RAL, and work with them daily.

Once the file is ready, we move on to our special printing and sublimation process. During this phase, the art is fused with powder-coated aluminum, turning it from a digital image into a durable, physical work of art that can be installed inside or outside.


Anonymous Somebody Murals by Elicser Elliot. Toronto, ON.

2. Can you do a mural in multiple panels?


We definitely can, in fact that’s why artists come to us. When the goal is to enlarge a piece of art so it can become a mural or any other sort of large installation, we sublimate the art onto multiple panels that will eventually be installed together to create a single mural. We pay special attention to making sure that the graphics align from panel to panel for a seamless look.

The largest panel we work with is 4’ x 8’. Working like this, we have created murals well over 30 feet long and 20 feet high.


Tracadigash by Patrick Dionne and Miki Gingras. Carleton-sur-mer, QC.

3. Is ALTO™ only for murals?

While murals are a popular application for ALTO™, there are many more options. Because of the ability to apply shapes, perforations and curves to the powder-coated aluminum, you can think of ALTO™ as a material for more sculptural projects.


Here are some of the creative options:

  • It can be cut in different shapes which can be layered for a really dynamic, three-dimensional effect.

  • In some cases, we can sublimate on both sides of an ALTO™ panel, giving more options for free-standing pieces.

  • Artists can add custom perforations to the panels, which is great for incorporating interesting visual effects and lighting.

  • ALTO™ can be curved and assembled to create tubes, cylinders and arches for elements like sculptures, posts and lanterns.

Horseshoe Sculptures, Calgary Stampede, Calgary, AB.

4. Can the panels be cut to a specific shape or and or cut-outs?


Absolutely! For example, a mural doesn’t have to be rectangular. We’ve cut ALTO™ into a variety of large-scale silhouettes which were then sublimated with digital collages and other artwork. We’ve seen that the more an artist gets to know ALTO™, the more creative they get with their projects. We’ve had ALTO™ cut into leaves, birds, circles, and all sorts of other shapes.


Artists have also used the idea of cut-outs to create spaces through which natural landscapes or cityscapes peek through. It brings another element to the artwork to make it engaging for the viewer.

Mémoire d'un paysage by Patrick Dionne and Miki Gingras. Montreal, QC.

5. How are the ALTO™ panels mounted?

We have several mounting options available. Once the installation site is chosen, we look at the ways an artwork can be installed securely using anti-vandal hardware and heavy-duty mounting systems. As ALTO™ edges always come finished and hardware can be concealed, there is no need for frames.



6. What are the maintenance requirements?

Many projects are located in public areas that see a lot of traffic, dirt and vandalism. With powder-coated aluminum, maintenance is minimal and if a mural or other public art piece requires cleaning, water is usually enough. One of the top benefits, actually, is the easy graffiti removal. Any public installation is at risk of vandalism and graffiti, so many of our clients rest easier know that ALTO™ comes with anti-vandal hardware and that graffiti can be easily cleaned off.


7. Is ALTO™ tough for exterior applications?


Initially developed for the signage industry, ALTO™ is engineered for exterior applications. Because of this, we understand the challenges that come along with installing artworks outside, where they are affected by weather, sunlight, vandalism and graffiti.

Art Alleries by Rob Buchanan et al. Revelstoke, B.C.

8. Is it your process environmentally friendly?


Our powder coats contain no solvents, and therefore emit negligible, if any, polluting VOCs into the atmosphere. The powder-coating process is a low-exhaust procedure, and over-spray can be retrieved and reused. Our powder coats are non-toxic and contain no TGICs (triglycidylisocyanurates). Also, aluminum is 100% recyclable; it can be recycled many times over without losing any of its properties.


9. Is there any overlay or coating on the panels?


Once the graphics are embedded in the powder coat during the sublimation process, no further treatment is necessary. We do not apply clear coats, sprays, varnishes, protective wraps, or any type of overlay. As the process eliminates the need for protective coatings, there is no peeling, cracking or delamination.


10. How can I see ALTO™ for myself?


If you live in one of the cities with an ALTO™ public art project, we encourage you to visit and see the material in person. Find out if there's an ALTO™ project near you by exploring our Projects Page.


We're also happy to send you a complimentary ALTO™ sample kit with 4"x 6" samples or you can buy a Full Sample Box- more info here.


Take a virtual tour of our favorite public art projects



For over a decade, artists have used ALTO™ for their public art projects. It offers creative freedom, peace of mind and most importantly, puts the focus on the artwork.


If you are wondering about how ALTO™ can be a part of your next public art project and have more questions, contact us and we will be happy to guide you.


Watch the FAQ video on IGTV