top of page

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

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

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.

ALTO™ Aluminum powder-coated graphic mural with art by Elicser Elliot
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.

ALTO™ Aluminum powder-coated graphic mural, photo collage of women, ships, cars and town history.
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 and cut-outs to the powder-coated aluminum, you can think beyond the typical shape and dimensions of a wall mural.

It can be cut in different shapes which can be layered for a really dynamic, three-dimensional effect. A variety of shapes can also be used to create installations and can be used as architectural decorations or landscape elements.

Photographic portraits sublimated onto layered powder-coated aluminum panels.
A Friend of a Friend by Bruno Long, Revelstoke, AB.

4. Can the panels be cut to a specific shape or have 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.

ALTO™ Aluminum powder-coated graphic cut-to shape panels of sun, birds and mountains on school facade.
Mémoire d'un paysage by Patrick Dionne and Miki Gingras. Montreal, QC.

5. How are the ALTO™ panels mounted?

We work with artists to come up with the right mounting solutions. 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.

ALTO™ Aluminum powder-coated graphic panels in outdoor art gallery on snowy night.
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 de-lamination.

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.

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


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page