Ever seen the term “Giclée Print” and wondered “What the heck it that, and what makes it so special?” Ok, your first question was probably more like “How the hell do I pronounce that?” It’s works best to impersonate a little French dude – zhee-klay!
Giclée (zhee-klay) is a French word, and according to Wikipedia “…was adopted by Jack Duganne, a printmaker working at Nash Editions. He wanted a name for the new type of prints they were producing on the Iris printer, a large-format, high-resolution industrial prepress proofing inkjet printer they had adapted for fine-art printing.”
So Why Are Giclée Prints Better (and more expensive)?
Giclée print is a term that has come to signify the highest advancement in printmaking technology. The giclée printing process provides the best color accuracy and fade resistance of any other means of fine are reproduction available today.
The original artwork is digitally scanned at the highest resolution possible to capture the details and color subtleties of the original. My artwork is scanned between 1200 and 1600 pixels per inch. That's 92,160,000 pixels in a small 6 x 6 inch scan – WOW! Never thought about it that way before.
The digital scan is then printed with archival quality inks onto an archival substrate such as cotton paper, canvas and other types of photo papers. These professional inkjet printers are special in that they use between 8 and 12 different colored ink cartridges and have fine print heads that deliver tiny little dots of each colored ink. As a result they print quite a bit slower that the typical inkjet printer.
Giclées are much more expensive on a per-print basis than the traditional four color printing process, costing up to 10 times as much.
I'm an Epson girl and use their products for the giclée reproductions of my artwork, so I know a little more about them then others. Epson’s UltraChrome archival quality inks have been tested by Wilhem Imaging Research to last over 200 years in color print permanence and over 300 years in black and white print permanence. Epson creates a specialty line of papers that are specially made to be archival by being acid and lignin free (won't yellow over time). I just lover their products.CLICK HERE to watch a short video on how Legacy paper by Epson is made for the fine art print market. It's a great behind the scenes look at the whole process of paper making.
So in a nutshell, giclée prints are the next best thing to owning an original painting.