What Is Giclée on Canvas? (A Look at What “Giclee Canvas Print” Means?)

What Is the Difference Between a Giclée Canvas Print and a Traditional Canvas Print?

Before we talk about what it means to have a giclée on canvas, it’s best if we begin by looking at what are the basic differences between the terms canvas print and giclée canvas print.

What is a Traditional (Non-Giclée) Canvas Print?

A traditional canvas print is an image printed (from a digital file to a printer) onto canvas.

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 fabric.

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

What is a Giclée Canvas Print?

Like a traditional canvas print, a giclée canvas print is a reproduction of an original work of art or photo with the image printed on a canvas material.

In addition, giclée canvas prints are printed using high-quality inkjet printers (Amazon) which often results in museum-quality canvas prints.

Typically, giclée prints follow these standards:

  • Inkjet Printer: Traditional prints are made using dye-based inks. The giclée printing process uses pigment-based archival 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 Surface: The canvas used must be acid-free and of archival quality to ensure longevity.

So, a print can be considered both a canvas print and a giclée print. For example, the canvas prints made by iCanvas, Society6, or Redbubble have all been considered both canvas prints and giclée prints because they meet the standards described above.

Origins of the Term Giclée

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).

Giclée comes from the French words gicleur and gicler. Gicleur is the inkjet nozzle and gicler means to spray, spout, or squirt.

Basically, giclée was a made-up word invented by Duganne to mean the thing that got sprayed.

Current Ussage of the Term Giclée

Today, artists, galleries, and print shops use giclée to mean any high-quality inkjet print.

What Does Giclee on Canvas Look Like?

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

Giclée Canvas Prints from Society6 – Product Video
Does Giclée on Canvas Have Texture?

Typically, the only texture a giclées canvas print has is the texture of the canvas fabric itself.

However, texture can be added to giclée prints by hand. This uncommon process is done by adding a clear gel on top of a print and using the same motion as the original brushstrokes.

Is a Giclée Canvas Print Better Than a Traditional Canvas Print?

If you’re going to compare a giclée canvas print to a regular, traditional canvas print, then yes. A giclée print is definitely better than a traditional canvas print that doesn’t meet the standards of being a giclée.

First, giclée prints have a much wider color gamut. This means that they can reproduce more colors, making them more accurate representations of the original artwork.

Giclées are made using archival 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.

Giclée prints also have a higher resolution than traditional prints, meaning that they will be sharper and more detailed.

Additionally, giclée canvas prints are generally made with an archival canvas fabric, which means that they will last longer than traditional canvas prints.

Under standard home or office lighting, without sunlight, you can expect a giclée canvas print to last up to 85 years without any noticeable fading. (Any artwork exposed to sunlight will eventually fade.)

How Do You Tell if a Canvas Print Is a Giclée?

Because traditional canvas prints are looking better and better these days, it’s often hard to see the difference between a traditional canvas print and a giclée canvas print. If you have both types of canvas prints side by side, you might be able to see more vibrant colors in the giclée.

So how can you tell if a canvas print is a giclée?

  • First, check the price. A giclée print will be more expensive than a regular print because of the quality of the materials used.
  • Second, look at the surface of the print. A giclée print will have a very smooth surface due to the high-quality canvas used.
  • Finally, ask the artist or gallery owner if the print is a giclée.
Overview: What Is a Giclée on Canvas?

In a nutshell, giclée canvas prints are reproductions printed from a top-quality, professional inkjet printer, have premium resolution and color, and are printed using archival canvas and inks.

Basically, giclée wall art is more durable and looks truer to the original artwork than traditional prints.

If you’re looking for an elegant way to display artwork, giclée canvas prints are the perfect option.