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Understanding Giclee Printing
Originating from the French term “gicler,” which translates to “to squirt” or “to spray,” Giclee (pronounced zhee-clay) printing is a renowned digital art reproduction method. It involves an inkjet printer that uses special pigmented inks for creating artwork, photographs, and other visual pieces with high accuracy and vivid colors. Renowned for their color accuracy, detail, and longevity, Giclee prints surpass traditional printing methods in popularity among art collectors, galleries, and museums.
Why Artists and Photographers Opt for Giclee Printing
In the past, an artist could sell an artwork only once. But with the advent of reproductions like Giclee prints, artists can reach a broader audience by offering high-quality replicas at affordable prices. Thus, the artwork gains more exposure, potentially boosting sales and the artist’s income.
Differentiating Print Types
The term ‘print’ is often used broadly to describe any artwork reproduction. It includes fine art prints resulting from printmaking, such as lithographs, monotypes, relief prints, screenprints, etc., crafted by skilled printmakers. However, when referring to the reproduction of original artwork or photography, we usually mean Giclee prints.
The Origin of Giclee
In the early 1990s, Nash Editions began promoting digital inkjet printing for fine art. To distinguish fine art inkjet prints, Jack Duganne, a Nash Edition employee, coined the term ‘Giclee.’ Based on the French word ‘gicler,’ this term quickly came to signify fine art digital prints, though its use has declined over the years.
Giclee and the Evolution of Fine Art Printing
The Iris printer, introduced in 1985, marked the beginning of this evolution. However, its use for fine art printing didn’t materialize until Graham Nash, from the Crosby, Stills, and Nash rock group, harnessed the Iris 3047 to print digital scans of his photographic work. This development ushered in a new era of fine art printing, providing photographers with high-quality print options to showcase their photos.
Modern Giclee Printing: Advancements and Dominant Players
In recent decades, inkjet printing has seen significant advancements. Modern printer models now boast up to 12 color ink-sets and a print permanence of over 200 years. Dominating this space are three main players – Epson, HP, and Canon, with Epson being the industry leader.
The Benefits of Giclee Printing
Unmatched Color Accuracy and Print Permanence
The new Epson ink set, UltraChrome PRO12, delivers exceptional color gamut, covering up to 99% of the PANTONE FORMULA GUIDE solid-coated standard. Independent tests by the Wilhelm Imaging Research Inc. reveal that these prints can last up to 200 years for color and 400 years for black-and-white prints.
Variety of Media Types
The choice of print media is as crucial as the ink used. There are now dozens of fine art, photography, and canvas media types available, offering artists the flexibility to best complement the look and feel of their images.
Print-On-Demand and Drop-Shipping Options
Modern giclee printing techniques have revolutionized how artists sell their work. With minimal setup costs and finishing time, these techniques are perfect for print-on-demand, small edition sizes, and even drop-shipping and order fulfillment applications.