Giclée printing is a high-quality, referred to as “Museum Quality”, printing process. It involves capturing an original artwork, (or photograph), in digital format and producing a fine art print. The term “giclée” comes from the French word “gicler”. It means “to spray or squirt”. It was coined by printmaker Jack Duganne in the early 1990s to describe his advanced method of inkjet printing. At the time, inkjet printing was associated with inferior quality prints. Marketing his higher quality inkjets with a fancy name made sense and it stuck!
Over 30 years later, the inkjet process has improved dramatically. So much so that pigment-based inkjet prints are often preferred over any other method due to better longevity and color accuracy. Inkjet is no longer the dirty word in the printing industry that needs to be masked by the fancy French term giclee!
The giclée process typically involves two parts. First, the original artwork is captured digitally using a high-end, high-resolution scanner or camera capture system. For artists, creating a digital copy of their original work before it sells is a no-brainer. It could lead to many additional sales as a print (typically limited edition, but not always).
After obtaining the high-quality digital file of your original artwork, a whole new world of printing options opens up to you, including products like puzzles, t-shirts, mugs, etc. (Dye Sublimation). However, for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on creating that archival giclee fine art print. If you need a digital image of your artwork you can take your artwork to a professional photographer or attempt to get a photo yourself. These days, most newer cell phones do a great job after some slight editing. Lighting is key. Some people put the artwork on the floor near a window so providing natural light.
A giclée fine art print must meet certain key components to be considered archival. These include using archival, acid-free paper or canvas, archival pigment inkjet ink. As well, high-end, large format inkjet printer consisting of 8-12 inks.
Archival Acid-Free Paper or Canvas: Most decent photo papers now are going to be buffered and acid-free, but it’s worth checking with your printer to make sure. The paper or canvas should be acid-free to ensure that the print will not yellow or deteriorate over time. At Joe-Lynn Design, we offer satin and gloss acid-free papers and satin canvas. When combined with the UV protection of acrylic or laminates, our giclée prints are expected to last for centuries with no color loss or deterioration.
In terms of permanence and color accuracy, pigment inkjet inks are superior to any other method. Pigment-based inks are more resistant to fading, water, and smudging than dye-based inks, and they produce brighter and more vivid colors. At Joe-Lynn Design, we use only Epson pigment inkjet inks rated to last 200+ years. Also, Epson doesn’t have color “Lot #s”. It has been and always will be the same lot for each color, so your prints will always be the exact same color as the last run, even years ago.
The Inkjet Printer
The Inkjet Printer: Any professional print lab offering large pigment inkjet prints will be using a high-end large format inkjet printer consisting of 8-12 inks. The printer should be able to produce high-quality prints with sharp details, accurate colors, and deep blacks. At Joe-Lynn Design, we’ve been using the Epson series of printers for almost 15 years and feel it’s the best fit for us. We currently use the P9000 Series to produce beautiful giclée quality prints.
The Process, the Proof: All the love that goes into a great print – from optimizing the image (color enhancement, sharpening, denoising, etc.), to making sure everything is color-matched properly, to ensuring the print is trimmed to perfection – requires a great process to achieve great results. At Joe-Lynn Design, we offer a variety of proofing options to ensure the final print is exactly what you want.
In summary, giclée printing produces the finest quality prints available. Please beware of imposters.
The word giclée is tossed around a lot at low quality printing firms just because they have a printer capable of producing giclée prints.
Educate yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
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