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About giclée prints

Updated: Jan 27

If you’re an art collector, you may already know that Giclée fine art printing is the gold standard when it comes to producing museum-level quality prints. But what exactly is Giclée? Why is it superior print technology and why you should opt for it when buying a reproduction from an artist?

Close-up view of a print coming out of a printer

Types of Prints

“Prints” refer to any sort of reproduction of a piece of artwork. Loosely put, prints can include the art of printmaking, which uses a flat plate to create multiple artworks, such as with lithographs, monotypes, screenprints, etc. These traditional printmaking techniques are generally regarded as fine art prints and artists who work within these mediums are skilled in the craft of printmaking.

However, if you are looking to buy prints of original artwork, you are looking for what is known as giclée print (pronounced “zhee-clays”). Giclées can be used to reproduce many different types of art.

Giclée is derived from the French word gicler which means “to squirt or spray” referring to how an inkjet printer works and how giclée prints are produced. These large format inkjet printers use small spraying devices that can both match color and apply ink precisely, giving artists a high-quality print of their original art. It does not refer to only canvas printing but also to art reproductions on paper.

But, not all inkjet printers produce giclée prints. It all boils down to these four elements: resolution, ink, paper, and printer type.

What makes a giclee?

To be able to make such a high-quality print, the camera or scanner used to capture or scan the art must be able to do so with a high level of resolution. To compare, most digital photos are recorded at a resolution of 72 DPI on the screen, or “dots per inch,” and the image file of an art print needs to be at least 300 DPI - because the more dots of color that can be printed in a small area, the more detailed the final image will appear.

As far as ink and paper go, they must be high quality and considered “archival.” This is typically achieved using inks that are pigment-based instead of dye-based and any canvas, watercolor paper, or specialty printing paper designated as archival. Printers are typically larger models that are able to hold up to 12 ink cartridges which produce a wider range of colors for duplicating the artwork.

What paper i use for MY giclee printing?

Giclee prints require high-quality archival paper. Archival paper is designed to be long lasting and weather the elements, unlike standard printer paper. Archival, pigment-based ink is also used in giclee printing. The paper I use is Hahnemühle Fine Art Baryta Satin 300g paper


Is a giclée print better than an art print?

A giclée art print is definitely better than an art print. Typically, giclée prints follow these standards: Inkjet Printer: Standard inkjet prints are made using dye-based inks. Giclées are made using pigment-based inks.

Though lithograph prints can be more affordable and faster to print, giclée printers are of a much superior quality.

How long do Giclee prints last?

Okay, giclée fine art prints don’t last forever, but they definitely will last long enough. With the right paper stock and ink set, your Giclée prints will be archival, which means that they’ll last for 150 to 200 years.

Displaying your giclée print

Giclée prints on paper need to be framed behind glass. Different types of glass are available to protect from UV, and to reduce reflections.

As with any valued fine piece, giclée prints should be displayed in indirect lighting conditions and away from any contact with moisture. ...

In other words, don’t hang them in your greenhouse, your bathroom, your unventilated kitchen or your workshop...

Final words

Every reproduction I sell -unless otherwise stated- is a Giclée print. I offer the choice between different types of fine art papers as well as sizes. Every Giclée print is signed by me and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Download my practical guide on how to handle your fine art print here.

Download PDF • 42KB

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