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Giclée Print vs Canvas (A Simple Comparison: The Difference Between Giclée Prints & Canvas Prints, & How To Choose Between Them + A Brief Look at Giclée Printers Versus Traditional Printing)

Is Giclée the Same as a Canvas Print?

No, a giclée and a canvas print may look the same, but they are actually quite different.

Let’s begin by looking at what are the basic characteristics of canvas prints versus giclée prints.

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.

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

Canvas Prints from Society6 – Product Video

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.

For more information on canvas prints, make sure to check out my post: What Is a Canvas Print?

Giclée Print

Giclée prints are also reproductions (copies) of works of art or photos.

Giclées are typically paper art prints or canvas prints that have been printed using an inkjet printer (Amazon). But it’s important to note that not all inkjet prints are giclée 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: Giclées have the sharpest detail and highest resolution, displaying a full-color spectrum. Giclées capture every shade of an original work.
  • Archival Surface: The giclée print must be printed on a premium, acid-free surface (like canvas or fine art paper) and be 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.

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 and is pronounced “zhee-clay”. 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.

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

Is a Giclée Print Better Than a 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 giclée canvas prints can reproduce more colors compared to traditional canvas prints, 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.
Conclusion: Is It Worth It To Buy a Giclée?

Giclée prints are more expensive than other types of prints, but they are also more durable and the printing process allows for a lot of detail and color to be captured in the print.

So, are giclée prints worth the price?

That depends on what you’re looking for in a print.

If you want something that will last a long time and look great, then a giclée print is probably a good investment.

Plus, if you’re an artist or photographer, you’ll make extra money from the same artwork or photo with little effort!

So is a giclée print for everyone?

No. If you’re just looking for something to hang on your wall for a few years, then you might be better off with a standard (non-glicée) print that’s more affordable.

The answer really depends on what you plan to do with the print.