What Is a Giclee Print vs Art Print? (A Quick & EASY Look at the Difference Between Them Such As Color Quality, Inkjet Printing, Archival Pigment-Based Inks & Paper)

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What Is a Giclee Print vs Art Print? (A Quick & Easy Comparison)

First, an art print is a reproduction (a copy) of an original work of art.

Second, a giclee is actually a type of print (commonly art prints or canvas prints) but it has very special characteristics (more details later).

To really understand the difference between a giclee and a regular art print, let’s first look at what an art print is. Then, we’ll look at what an art print needs in order to be classified as a giclee.

What Is An Art Print? (And a Quick Note About Fine Art Prints)

The term art print should not be confused with the term fine art print.

While a fine art print is considered original artwork, an art print is a commonly used term used to describe a type of reproduction (a copy of an original work of art).

Examples of reproductions are prints that can be mass-produced like posters (see examples on Society6), canvas prints, and art prints.

Product Video: Society6 Art Prints

Society6’s art prints are also considered to be giclee art prints (more about that below).

If you go to popular art sites such as Society6 or Redbubble, you’ll quickly notice that what they call art print is artwork printed on medium-weight, cotton paper with a white border. It’s common for art prints to come with a white border around the artwork for framing, but it’s not a requirement.

Art prints can be easily mass-produced without the aid of the artist who created the original artwork and they’re typically printed on white, premium, cotton paper with high-quality inks. Usually, the paper used for an art print is matte and can be smooth or lightly textured.

What Is a Giclee Print Compared to an Art Print?

A giclee is a reproduction (copy) of an original work of art or photograph.

Giclees are typically paper art prints or canvas prints that have been printed using an inkjet printer. But it’s important to note that not all inkjet prints are giclee prints.

So, are giclee prints better than a regular (non-giclee) art prints?

If you’re going to compare a giclee art print to a regular, standard art print, then yes. A giclee art print is definitely better than an art print.

Typically, giclee prints follow these standards:

  • Inkjet Printer: Standard inkjet prints are made using dye-based inks. Giclees are made using pigment-based inks (Amazon).
  • High Resolution and Color: They have the sharpest detail and highest resolution, displaying a full-color spectrum. Giclees capture every shade of an original work.
  • Archival Paper: The paper or surface used must be acid-free and of archival quality to ensure longevity.

Giclees are made using pigment-based inks. If kept in darkness and in specific environmental conditions, pigment-based inks can last up to 200 years without noticeable fading or yellowing.

Under standard home or office lighting, without sunlight, you can expect a framed giclee printed on photo paper to last up to 85 years without any noticeable fading. (Any artwork exposed to sunlight will fade.)

Are Giclee Prints Textured?

Giclees are not textured unless they’re printed on textured paper or canvas.

Most textured prints are created by adding a clear gel on top of a print. This gel is usually painted by hand, using the same motion as the original brushstrokes.

Are High-Quality Giclee Prints Worth It?

Click on the image to see details about Redbubble’s best-selling framed art print, “Morning Fox” by Holly Simental.

You might hear some people say that giclees aren’t valuable. But I totally disagree! I think giclee prints, especially limited edition prints (Minted), can be a worthy investment.

Here are the top reasons why I think giclee prints are valuable:

  1. Giclees have the support of fine art experts. They are collected and displayed by famous museums from around the world.
  2. They are very accurate, archival prints. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to distinguish between giclees and the original artwork.
  3. It’s not uncommon for limited edition giclee prints to go up in value because of their rarity and high quality. They also become more valuable as the artist becomes more well-known.
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Why Are Archival Giclee Prints So Expensive?

Click on the image to see details about Society6’s best-selling art print, “So Extra” by Side Dimes.

It’s a myth that getting high-quality giclee prints, which use archival materials, will be expensive. And I’ll admit that some companies do charge quite a bit (maybe too much) for their giclee prints.

But, high-quality giclee prints don’t actually have to be that expensive if you buy them from places like Society6 or Redbubble.

Here are some other factors that will increase the price (and value) of giclee prints:

  • Premium Materials: Uses high-quality inkjet printers and materials (archival papers/canvas and inks) that will make your art print look amazing and last for decades.
  • Limited editions: If the giclee print is a limited edition, this means there are only so many prints of the original artwork that will be made. This increases the value of the giclee print.
  • Well-Known Artist: If you’re buying a giclee print of artwork created by a well-known artist, you’ll be paying more than a giclee print made from the work of an emerging artist.
  • Popularity: If the artwork is featured in the news, books, museums, catalogs, websites, or other media, the price will go up.
  • The Story: If there’s a really cool story behind the artwork (like a famous person used to own it or was featured in a TV show or play), then a giclee print will probably go up in price.

So, go ahead and buy giclee prints or art prints, support independent artists, and HAVE FUN shopping!