Art paper confusion

Susan Plouzek

As an artist, have you noticed the new measurement for paper? Paper can be downright confusing. Over the next few months, I would like to explore and even try to clarify everything you ever wanted to know about paper.

So this month of August, all of you artists who are brave enough to remain here in Sun Lakes get to find out about the new measurement that we all see on our drawing pads (sorry snowbirds).

Traditionally, papers in the United States are measured by the weight in pounds of one ream of approximately 500 sheets. If a paper comes in different sizes, its weight will differ even though the thickness of the paper has not changed. For example, a ream of standard 22” x 30” drawing paper (500 sheets) might weigh 140 lbs. Let’s say you have a piece of paper that is only 9” x 12”. If it came from 500 sheets of 22” x 30” and weighs 140 lbs., it is said to be 140-lb paper. Now let’s say the very same paper comes in a ream of 500 sheets of 44” x 60”. Even though the thickness of the paper is the same, because of the paper’s original size, your 9” x 12” paper might now be said to weigh 280-lbs.! What? And of course if the thickness varies, it changes everything.

Nowadays when selecting paper, you may notice the poundage, but I hope you’ve noticed the new standard. You will see “gsm” or “g/m2” listed on the cover of the drawing pad. It means “grams per square meter”. Finally, the number on the paper will have some real meaning. It is so much fairer. We will be able to tell what we’re getting based on one measurement, which is, how many grams per square meter does this paper weigh? It does not matter how thick the paper or what the original size. It is simply based on grams per square meter. Yay! I hope that clears it up.

See you next month! At Oakwood Artists League, there’s never a dull moment.