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A short history of Giclée

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

The word Giclee is of French origin, as it was first used in printing industry in 1852. Its original meaning comes from the verb “gicler”, which means “to spray”. In English, the word Giclee appeared in 1991, when printmaker Jack Duganne, at Nash Editions, used it as a term for inkjet and digital prints. His objective was to give a new identity to fine art printings in order to distinguish these from commercial prints.

What Is Giclée, And Why Is It The Next Best Thing To Owning An Original?

giclée fine art

Giclée (jee-clay) is an advanced fine art printing process for creating high quality fine art reproductions. The attainable quality that Giclée fine art printing affords can make a reproduction virtually indistinguishable from the original artwork. The result is widely adopted by art galleries, museums and private collectors, households and offices.

However, Giclée fine art printing quality varies as much as art itself, so be aware.

Prints Fade Over Time, What About Giclée?

Museum-quality Giclée reproductions can be found in the world's finest museums and art galleries around the world. Various image permanence ratings are available to the public about expected display-life for various ink and media combinations used in Giclée fine art printing. Our Giclée reproductions at Fine Art Imaging studio offer an image stability rating of greater than 80 years due to the exclusive use of archival-grade pigment inks, acid-free media and high-quality UV-inhibiting liquid laminates.

Giclée prints

How Does A Giclée Differ From A Traditional Print or Lithograph?

Giclée fine art printing derives its quality from its seemingly “dot-less” imaging technology which contrasts with traditional commercial digital prints which relies on printing screen pattern dots to reproduce full-range color. Because traditional offset printing dot patterns are detectable to the eye, it is less desirable than Giclée fine art prints for fine art reproduction.

Also, traditional offset prints are typically restricted to papers that widely vary from what the original artwork was created on, especially when reproducing oil on canvas. The Giclée process enables reproduction on virtually the same media as the original artwork whether it is on canvas, textured watercolor paper, or specialty fine art papers.

So, Giclée printing is associated with:

  • Digital fine art prints using inkjet printers with pigment inks (at our studio Fine Art Imaging, our Canon printers employ 12pigments )

  • Archival properties associated with color longevity of tens of years (for Giclée printing, Fine Art Imaging studio uses exclusively acid-free media / varnishes and wrapping papers)

  • Dotless (fluid) imagies which contrasts with traditional printing of series /patterns of dots

  • Prints on paper or canvas made primary from cotton of alpha cellulose which have the capacity of absorbing and retaining pigments longer that the wood-based media.

  • UV-inhibiting varnish is applied on Giclée prints on canvas, in order to protect, preserve and enhance the coloristic palette of art prints

YES! A decent Giclée (maker) should meet all these criteria to be considered a Museum Quality Fine Art Printer!

Want to see for yourself? Get in touch and see how magic is made!

Note on “magic” – we employed this word just to capture your attention – in reality, we apply on a very rigorous printing process with no shortcuts or magic tricks involved :)

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