Giclee Print vs Canvas Print (a Quick Look at What’s the Difference Between Paper Art Prints, Canvas Prints, and What Makes a Print Qualify as a “Giclée”)

Giclee Print vs Canvas Print: What Is the Difference Between Them?

To really understand the difference between a giclee print and canvas print, let’s look at each of them separately.

What Is a Canvas Print?

A canvas print (see examples on Amazon) is an image printed (from a printer) on canvas material. Canvas prints look similar to oil and acrylic paintings because their surface has the same texture.

Canvas prints are usually made from cotton, polyester, or linen (flax). But, some specialty fibers, such as hemp and jute, are also used for canvas surfaces.

Today, canvas prints are usually sold as some kind of stretched canvas print. This just means that the canvas has been pulled tightly over a wooden frame. The staples that hold the canvas to the wooden frame will either be on the sides or the back of the stretched canvas.

An example of what a stretched canvas typically looks like is in Society6‘s product video (below).

Product Video: Society6 Canvas Prints

What Is a Giclee Print?

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

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

An example of what an art print typically looks like is in Society6‘s product video (below).

Product Video: Society6’s Giclee Paper Art Prints

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.

The standards mentioned above are what make giclees high-quality prints that are very resistant to fading and yellowing.

Which Is Better? (Giclee Paper Art Prints Versus Giclee Canvas Print?

One type of giclee print is not better than the other, but if you have trouble deciding whether or not you want a giclee canvas print or an art print, here are a few things to keep in mind…

Giclee Paper Art Prints

In my opinion, and the opinion of many art buyers, art prints are a great choice no matter the subject of the art or photo. This is especially true if the print is sharp and placed in a high-quality frame (Amazon).

So, if you’re unsure of whether or not you should buy a canvas print or an art print, you can’t go wrong with a framed art print (Redbubble). A frame will give it a nice finished look.

Matting and framing an art print doesn’t have to be expensive!

I do all my framing by buying inexpensive, high-quality frames on Amazon (some include matting with the frame).

Giclee Prints of Photographs

When it comes to photography, especially close-ups of people or animals, the popular opinion seems to be that a framed art print (Society6) is the best choice.

And I have to admit that, for some reason, just the thought of a family portrait printed on a canvas makes me cringe.

Overall, I think it’s a good rule of thumb that photographs, especially those that focus on people or animals, are best when printed on some kind of photographic paper (Redbubble) or fine art paper and framed. Usually, these types of photos were meant to have most of their details and some of their sharpness shared with the viewer.

The texture of a canvas usually won’t show the finer details and sharpness of an image compared to a photographic print.

On the other hand, I think that an artistic photograph of a landscape, a building, or nature can look great on canvas. For example, a canvas print of the Eiffel Tower (Redbubble), a calming beach scene, or flowers can be a beautiful addition to your home or office. In most of these cases, the details do not seem to be missed at all.

Giclee Prints of Paintings / Fine Art

I think that canvas prints are best when the printed image is of a handmade piece of art like a painting, sketch, or even a digital illustration. The texture of the canvas will make the print look much more like an original piece of fine art.

Canvas prints are great for those of us who are on a tight budget because they usually cost much less than original paintings or traditional framed prints.

Giclee Prints of Famous Paintings

Most of us don’t have millions of dollars to buy famous paintings from well-known artists, so canvas prints of famous paintings (Amazon) are a great alternative.

Are High-Quality, Archival Giclee Prints Worth It?

You might hear some people say that giclees aren’t valuable. But I totally disagree! I think giclee prints, especially limited edition prints (Amazon), 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.

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