What is a giclee print?

These days, with advances in digital printing and technology it's a higher priority than ever to know the distinction between a giclee print versus digital print, especially if you mean to buy a fine art reproduction

What is Giclee?

Giclee is the first and only fine art print to be made with an inkjet printer. Pronounced, zhee’clay, the word comes from the French, meaning to spray, which is exactly what an inkjet printer does.

It was an incredible achievement in the fine art community when giclee reproductions were introduced with the market in the late 1980s. The quality of a giclee print is far better than every single other type of printing. For art lovers who needed to collect fine art however couldn't afford an original, giclee reproductions immediately turned into a popular choice to purchase.

Before I go any further in my clarification, I should explain what I mean when I utilize the words print and reproduction since I could never need to annoy any printmakers and the amazing art they make with their pulled prints.

The Difference Between a Giclee Print and Hand Pulled Print

Giclee prints are not to be mistaken for or even put in a similar category as a pulled print. It's essential to recognize a pulled print is a unique bit of fine art and not a duplicate. Pulled prints are made by printmakers from a master image they make themselves.

The master image is typically made as a block, plate, or stone also called block prints, etchings, and lithographs. Printmaking can take years to master, and each pulled print made by the printmaker is an extraordinary bit of handcrafted art to be esteemed and loved as a unique.

Giclee and hand-pulled prints are sometimes gathered because of the misinterpretation of the words print and reproduction. The implications of these words are frequently confused when taken outside context. Some believe reproduction is a duplicate of a unique, and print refers to a pulled print which is, as I stated above, a unique.

I consider the words print and reproduction compatible when used to refer to a giclee. So, for the purpose of this post both these words refer to a duplicate of original art.

The Difference Between a Giclee and Digital Print

Basically, everything comes down to the longevity of the art.

Before the internet, it was entirely expected to decorate the walls of your home with unique/original artwork. There was truly no other method to design your home if you needed art on your walls. Picking between fine art print and an original art use to be the only alternative a buyer had to think about, and if they had framing and printing needs; at that point, they went to a trained professional.

That’s not the case anymore!

The explosion of devices, smartphones and home office printers alongside the internet has enabled us to print any picture imaginable into the hands of everyone. An individual can basically print a picture from their phone or PC on their home printer. This kind of printing is called digital printing. Digital printing might be convenient; unfortunately, it's not intended to last. The qualities of the materials used to make these prints are not archival. Within weeks noticeable harm will occur to digital prints from the sun and the humidity.

It's easy to waste a log of cash on art prints that won't last nowadays, which is the reason it's so essential to ensure the fine art you purchase is produced using archival materials, particularly if you are gathering art a professional artist.

The 4 Major Criteria Needed to Make a Giclee Print

Giclee prints can be made to reproduce any type of 2-D artwork, for example, acrylic, oil and watercolor paintings. So as to make a giclee print, 4 significant criteria must be met during the printing procedure:

  • Resolution- The original bit/piece of art should be professionally scanned or photograph at 300 dpi or higher resolution.
  • Ink- The ink must be pigmented (not color). There additionally should be at least 8 different colored pigmented inks utilized in the printer.
  • Paper- The paper should be 100% archival. There is a wide assortment of materials available for giclee printing (as long as it's archival) such as gloss paper, canvas, mat paper, watercolor textured paper, velvet paper and specialty artisan paper.
  • Printer- The printer itself must be a wide-format inkjet printer. (This isn't your everyday household office printer)

In the mid-90s practically all giclee prints were made at specialty fine art print shops. These shops had the way to photograph or scan the original art, the software and experience to color correct the picture for printing and all the proper materials and tools for making museum quality giclee reproduction. The quality of these prints was dazzling but costly.

Then, in the mid-2000 smaller wide-format fine art printers entered the market from companies like Epson, and it was a distinct advantage for a full-time artist. We could now put resources into our very own equipment and have greater control over the nature of our fine art prints.

The advantage to this capability was it enabled us to remove the middle man and offer/sell directly to our clients at a lower cost, and the drawback is it's currently harder then ever to identify if a fine art print is a genuine giclee because it’s easy to substitute out any of the four criteria mentioned above.

Not All Artist Create Fine Art Prints

Due to the tremendous choices of materials and tools that are currently available for printing, We have noticed an expansion of artists making prints that are not produced using archival materials. There are a couple of reasons, digital printing is on the rise from a proficient fine artist.

Some artist has found they can save cash by substituting out the costly pigmented inks for less expensive color inks in their wide designed printer. Other artists also save cash by not printing on archival paper.

Recapture is the best online photo printing website that provides fine art prints. Recapture set out to create a print that felt like a museum-quality mat and premium print – all in one. Each Photo printed on 180 gsm Archival Enhanced Matte. Order Fine Art Prints here!

NOTE: If the art is not considered “Fine Art” say for example a decorative art, poster, stationery, then print on demand company like Recapture is a wonderful resource!