What Is a Giclée Print?

Contents: What Is a Giclée Print?

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

First, a print is a reproduction (a copy) of an original work of art.

Second, a giclée is actually a type of print and has very special characteristics (more details later).

To really understand what a giclée print is, let’s start by comparing a regular art print to a giclée print.

What Is An Art Print?

The term art print should not be confused with the term fine art print.

While a fine art print is considered original artwork, an art print is a commonly used term used to describe a type of reproduction (a copy of an original work of art).

Examples of reproductions are prints that can be mass-produced like posters, art prints, and canvas prints.

You can see images of reproductions by visiting iCanvas.

Art prints can be easily mass-produced without the aid of the artist who created the original artwork and they’re typically printed on white, premium, cotton paper with high-quality inks. Usually, the paper used for an art print is matte and can be smooth or lightly textured.

If you go to popular art sites such as Society6 or Redbubble, you’ll quickly notice that what they call art print is artwork printed on medium-weight, cotton paper with a white border. It’s common for art prints to come with a white border around the artwork for framing, but it’s not a requirement.

An example of what most people call art print is in Society6’s product video (below).

Product Video: Society6 Art Prints

What Is A Giclée Print?

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

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

Typically, giclée prints 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.

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.

What Is Giclée on Canvas?

A giclée canvas print is an image printed on canvas material with the standards of a giclée print mentioned above. 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.

Here’s an example of what a stretched canvas typically looks like is in Society6‘s product video.

Product Video: Society6 Canvas Prints

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.)

Do Giclée Prints Have Texture?

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

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.

Conclusion: Should You Choose a Giclée Print?

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.