Giclée Print vs Art Print: What’s the Difference?

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Are you shopping for art and wondering what’s the difference between art prints and giclée prints?

This easy to read post will explain this (and more) in plain English (no artsy jargon)!


  1. What is an art print?
  2. What is a giclée print?
    • What does giclée mean?
    • Are they textured?
    • Are they waterproof?
    • Do they fade?
    • Are they valuable?

An art print is a reproduction of an original work, while a giclée is a specific type of art print. To really understand what this means, let’s first look at what is an art print. Then, we’ll look at what an art print needs in order to be classified as a giclée.

What Is An Art Print?

An art print is a printed reproduction of an original work of art. They’re printed using different techniques and using different materials.

Types of prints include:

  • Giclées
  • Digital Prints
  • Lithographs
  • Etchings
  • Engravings
  • Posters
  • Screenprints
  • Letterpress prints

However, if you go to popular art sites such as Society6 or Redbubble, you’ll quickly notice that what they call an “art print” is artwork printed on medium-weight, cotton paper. These “art prints” come with a white border around the artwork for framing.

What Is A Giclée Print?

A giclée is a type of art print.

Giclées are prints that have been printed using an inkjet printer. But it’s important to note that not all inkjet prints are giclée prints.

“Coralliens de la Mer”, Framed Giclée Prints
by Belle Mer Graphics (Etsy)

Typically, giclées follow these standards:

  • Inkjet Printer: Standard inkjet prints are made using dye-based inks. Giclées are made using pigment-based inks.
  • High Resolution and Color: They have the sharpest detail and highest resolution, displaying a full-color spectrum. Giclées 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 giclées high-quality prints that are very resistant to fading and yellowing.

What Does Giclée Mean?

Giclée was a French word coined by Jack Duganne, a printmaker at Nash Editions.

The name was first used to describe prints made by using an Iris printer (an inkjet printer introduced in 1985). But today, artists, galleries, and print shops use giclée to mean any high-quality inkjet print.

Giclée comes from the French words gicleur and gicler. Gicleur is the inkjet nozzle and gicler means to spray, spout, or squirt. Giclée was a made-up word invented by Duganne to mean the thing that got sprayed.

Are Giclées Textured?

Giclées are not textured unless they’re printed on textured paper.

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 Giclées Waterproof?

Although inkjet giclées have much higher archival properties than traditional prints, they typically aren’t waterproof (unless the manufacturer added a protective solvent-based clearcoat fixative). You should handle them like you would an original painting.

Do Giclées Fade?

Giclées 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 giclée printed on photo paper to last up to 85 years without any noticeable fading. For canvas giclées, you can expect it to last 45 to 60 years without any noticeable fading.

Any artwork exposed to sunlight will fade.

Are Giclées Valuable?

You might hear some people say that giclées aren’t valuable.

But I disagree! I think they’re a worthy investment.

Here’s why:

  1. Giclées have the support of fine art experts. They are collected and displayed by famous museums from around the world, like the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum.
  2. They are very accurate, archival prints. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to distinguish between giclées and the original artwork.
  3. It’s not uncommon for limited edition giclée 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.