I am frequently asked about the different reproduction techniques used in art. Today I wanted to expose you to an excellent article that I believes does a great job of explaining exactly what a giclee is. It is provided courtesy of Novaspace Art and Autographs.
What is a giclee?
A giclee (zhee-CLAY), is an individually produced, high-resolution, high-fidelity, high tech reproduction done on a special large format printer. Giclees are produced from digital scans of existing artwork. Also, since many artists now paint only digitally, there was no “original” that can be hung on a wall. Giclees solve that problem, while creating a whole new vibrant medium for art.
Giclees can be printed on any number of media, from canvas to watercolor paper to vinyl, to transparent acetates. Giclees are superior to traditional lithography in nearly every way. The colors are brighter, last longer, and are so high-resolution that they are virtually ‘continuous tone’, rather than tiny dots. The range, or “gamut” of color for giclees is far beyond that of lithography, and details are crisper.
Since giclee printers can use media in rolls, large print sizes are available, limited only by the length and width of the roll. Billboard sizes are possible. Giclees are typically sold by the square inch or square foot.
Lithography uses tiny dots of four colors–cyan, magenta, yellow and black (approximate colors shown) Lithography uses tiny dots of four colors–cyan, magenta, yellow and black–to fool the eye into seeing various hues and shades. Colors are “created” by printing different size dots of these four colors.
Giclees use six colors–light cyan, cyan, light magenta, magenta, yellow and black (sometimes TWO blacks) (approximate colors shown)Giclees use inkjet technology, but far more sophisticated than your desktop printer. The process employs six colors–light cyan, cyan, light magenta, magenta, yellow and black (somteimes TWO blacks)–of lightfast (fade resistant,) pigmented inks and finer, more numerous, replaceable printheads resulting in a wider color gamut, and the ability to use various media to print on. The ink is sprayed onto the page, actually mixing the color on the page to create truer shades and hues.
They are priced midway between original art and regular limited edition lithographs. Limited edition litho prints are usually produced in editions of 500-1000 or more, all at once; but giclees rarely exceed 50-100 high-quality reproductions, one at a time.
Giclees were originally developed as a proofing system for traditional lithographic printing presses, but it soon became apparent that the presses were having a hard time delivering the quality and brilliant color of the giclee proofs. Giclees evolved into the new darlings of the art world. They are coveted by collectors for their fidelity and quality, and desired by galleries and artists alike because they don’t have to be produced in huge quantities with their large layout of capital and storage.
In addition, Giclees are produced directly from a digital file, (which can be remotely uploaded,) saving generations of detail-robbing negatives and printing plates used with traditional litho printing. NOVASPACE has our own giclee printer and operator, allowing for more flexibility, experimentation, quick turnaround and lower costs (no middleman) to our customers.
What is a Giclee? (WiseGeek Definition)
The True Story of Giclee? (History of Giclee)
Digital Fine Art Printing Comes of Age (History of Giclee)