What is a Giclee?
Giclee is French meaning “to spray on” and pronounced, ‘zhee-clay.’
The Giclee printing process was born in the early 1990’s as rock musician Graham Nash & and his associate Mac Holbert uncovered a new capability of the Iris inkjet printer called the 3047. These early machines had been developed for digital graphic proofing but it had not occurred to the manufacturer that its equipment would be adopted by artists as a digital method of fine art printing. In 1991, thanks to Mr. Nash’s vision, the world’s first digital fine art “Atelier” opened its doors. Since this early beginning, the technology in equipment, media, inks and craftsmanship have advanced immeasurably.
What Giclee Prints Are
This is a new form of fine art reproduction. In the past it has also been referred to as an Iris Print due to the fact that the brand name of one of the first high end digital printers was named Iris. This process, different than the traditional off-set lithographic prints artists have traditionally used to reproduce their works, gives a much truer to the original look. Actually, the printer is a high end, large format ink jet printer. So the image is captured, proofed and printed digitally. The inks have been lab tested to withstand normal home lighting conditions for anywhere from thirty five to two hundred years (depending on the ink and the paper or canvas used) before showing any sign of fading.
Probably, a greater life than some original works of art. The result is a highly saturated and dynamic color range that is greater than serigraphy, or lithography, allowing for a reproduction equal to the original piece.
With much experimentation and consummate craftsmanship, the technology of computer prints has evolved into an elegant art form. An art print emerges, lush and velvety, with the feel of a watercolor and the look of a serigraph or original lithograph. From this marriage of art and science we celebrate the emergence of the Giclee fine art print – a precise reproduction of an artist’ painting with the qualities of an original.
A Giclee gives the impression of an original painting due to the unique printing process and the high-quality art paper or canvas. The Giclee can be enhanced by the artist by actually drawing or painting on the Giclee, giving it a different look because the enhancements can not be duplicated on every print. The Giclee is an affordable option to buying the original artwork or a hand painted reproduction. The Giclee print that has been completed by the artist with hand-painted enhancements comes with a certificate of authenticity AND is issued by the artist verifying the number for each Giclee print.
Technical stuff about the Giclee
It’s called Giclee because of the fact that papers or canvas are being sprayed on with pigments by nozzles with an approximate diameter of one millionth of the diameter of a hair. Sounds pretty interesting, doesn’t it?
So, when it comes to the question “What is a Giclee print?”, the answer is: a digital printer makes it, similar to the inkjets many have at home. Contrary to a popular belief, there are some major differences between a home inkjet and a Giclee printer.
The number of colors. These printers can have 4, 6, 7, 8 even 12!
The number and quality of nozzles. Nozzles engineering varies from piezo heads (nozzles vibrate with a crystal, no different than a quartz watch) to other systems which are all proprietary.
The format. These printers can print up to 72″ wide. No limit on the length.
The number of substrates that a Giclee can be printed on.