Giclee printing (pronounced zhee-clay) is the process of making fine art prints from high-end inkjet printers and digital source material.
In short, it’s the world’s best print job, blurring the line between computer printout and fine art.
Zee What Now?
Giclee is a French term loosely translated as “ to squirt from a nozzle.” The nozzle in question is micro-fine — approximately one-millionth the width of a human hair — and the ink being “squirted” is pigment-based, not dye-based.
Pigment inks can retain their original colors for up to 200 years, making them the prime choice for long-lasting archival prints.
Giclee All The Way
There are three main elements that make up a giclee print.
First is a high print resolution, 300 dpi at a minimum.
Second, the print must be made on acid-free archival paper. If you’re buying a giclee print from an artist make sure you inquire about the paper or substrate used. It should be a cotton- or rag-based material. The type of ink and printer used should also be noted.
Finally, giclee prints must be produced on a special printer — often a large-format printer — that uses pigment-based inks. Also, large format giclee printers have eight to 12 printheads compared to the four (CMYK) found on standard inkjets.
More printheads means a wider variety of pigments, delivering prints with better depth of color. The Canon PIXMA Pro9500, for example, uses matte black, cyan, magenta, yellow, red, green, gray, photo black, photo cyan and photo magenta pigment ink cartridges.
Can’t I Just Buy A Poster?
Sure, you can! Gone on down to Walmart and get a plastic frame for it, too. Just remember that it’s a poster, while a giclee print is a work of art. Posters are mass produced somewhere in China.
Giclee prints are produced one at a time. Posters are printed on glossy paper. Giclee prints are produced on matte photo paper, watercolor paper, cotton canvas, pre-coated canvas, or artist textured vinyl.
Giclee prints are a good choice if you can’t afford original artwork, or if you want to bring your favorite digital art of vibrant life. Giclee prints created by illustrators and artists have the sense and feel of real artwork, and giclee prints will hold, or even increase, their value.
Giclee vs Print