Giclee Prints

Giclee is the term used to define a reproduction of art that was created using digital media and Inkjet printing. The term was first used by printmaker Jack Duganne in the early 1990s to specify a type of industrial digital printing called “Iris Proofs,” however today is used liberally for any quality art print created with an Inkjet printer. History: The original giclees, produced by the Inkjet printers at Iris Graphics in Bedford, Massachusetts, were pre-printing digital proofs that were created to test color quality and color matching before high volume production started. Starting in the mid-1990s, Iris began experimenting with fade resistant inks that kept the printed color from deteriorating over time. The success of such inks working in mass production caught the eye of the fine art world, and since poster print reproductions of art that were created with an Inkjet printer have been known as giclees. Significance: Giclees have become popular among fine art appreciators who can’t afford the original but want better quality than a traditional poster. The fade-resistant inks that define a giclee can keep colors faithful to the original piece for up to 25 years if not exposed to significant sunlight. Furthermore, the precision of the Inkjet reproduction eliminates the dotted quality that defines many other types of print reproduction that utilize screens or transferred images. Giclees are often printed with certificates of authenticity that include a printed signature from the artist and issue number, potentially increasing their value over time. Features: Giclees are more expensive that regular posters because they offer higher image resolution and finer color detailing. They may be printed on a range of paper quality and style, from photograph paper to watercolor paper to canvas to textured vinyl. Many commercial printing companies, such as Canon, Epson, and Hewlett-Packard, have picked up where Iris Graphics began in terms of refining the process of creating a giclee including usability and accessibility. Effects: While fine art retailers and reproduction manufacturers have quickly found a place in their catalogs for fine giclee prints, many individual artists have also started utilizing the giclee printing method to distribute and sell their art. Because of their digital nature, individual giclee prints can be commissioned from printers, unlike the previous means of reproducing artwork, four-color offset lithography that required the artist to commission prints in large quantities. Though an individual giclee is considerably more expensive than an individual lithograph reproduction by $50 to $5,000 the giclee method allows artists to meet market demand for their print more easily. Potential: In the past 10 years, giclees have become a popular sales item on artists’ websites. Most printers quote between five and seven business days to make a giclee from an original painting, making it feasible for artists to specifically commission prints for clients after payment has been received, requiring no out of pocket funding from the artist.  


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