Many fine art prints are sold as giclée prints, but what does this mean?
The word Giclée (“zhee-clay”), is derived from the French verb gicler meaning “to squirt or spray.”
Giclée is a term used to describe a fine art printing process, involving particular types of ink and paper to produce a high quality print of original artwork. Let’s look at the different types of ink and paper.
The actual printing machines used differ significantly from a standard office inkjet or digital printer.
A professional fine art printer uses at least 8 different coloured pigment ink cartridges which are fade resistant to give superior quality printing. My own printer combines 10 separate pigment inks in the printing process. It’s also more than twice the size of my standard office printer, and it weighs 25 kg! Some printers use remanufactured inks, but there are various debates about whether the quality is good enough. I avoid all this by using only original Canon print cartridges to give the best results for years to come.
Each image is printed onto high quality heavy archival paper – this is museum quality printing paper and there are various types and textures available. I’ve experimented with different types of paper to find one that suits my animal art perfectly, and I use a smooth 315g fine art printing paper for my giclée prints. By comparison, most printer/photocopier paper is typically only 80g.
The combination of pigment based inks with high quality archival paper produces Giclée prints with superior archival quality, light fastness and stability. Simply put, they should last a long time! It is often claimed that Giclée prints will not fade for 100 years – however, as with any art, it is advisable to avoid exposure to strong light for extended periods of time as sunlight will inevitably eventually cause some fading.
Buying a print of someone’s artwork can be a great affordable way to own some art when you love the original painting or drawing, but the price is out of your reach or the original has already been sold. If you see that prints are being sold as giclée prints, ask the artist how they are produced – they should be happy to explain it to you.
Feel free to add your comments about giclée prints below.
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