Giclée Print vs Art Print (What’s the Difference?)

Wondering what’s the difference between giclée prints and art prints? Then you’re in the right place!

These are the basic differences between an art print vs a giclée. First, an art print is any reproduction of an original work of art (e.g. a canvas print that’s a copy of a handmade painting). Second, a giclée is actually a type of art print but it has very special characteristics (more details later).

To really understand the difference between a giclee and an art print, 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*

* Click on the links to see examples of each type of print on Etsy.

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.

But you’ll also notice the “art prints” that are sold on the most popular art sites are usually also advertised as being high-quality giclées.

An example of this is in Society6’s product video (below) promoting their art prints as “gallery quality giclee prints”.

Product Video: Society6 Art Prints

>>> Click this link to see art prints that are TRENDING RIGHT NOW on Society6

One thing to understand is that a giclée print is always an art print, but an art print isn’t always a giclée.

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.

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 Giclée Prints 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 Giclée Prints 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 Giclée Prints 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 Prints Worth Anything?

You might hear some people say that giclées aren’t valuable. But I totally disagree! I think they’re a worthy investment.

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

  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.