What is a Giclée print?

  • By Jacqueline Thomas

What is a Giclée print?

In the short time that Hatch-d has been around, the question most asked of me is "What is a Giclée print?"  Here is a simple explanation of one of the most exciting techniques available in fine art printing.

What is a Giclée print?
Giclée (pronounce Gee’clay) is a relatively young term in art history. It was coined by French printmaker Jack Duganne to describe a print made using an IRIS printer. Giclée is now more broadly used to describe a large format style of inkjet print or fine art digital print produced to a very high quality using a specific set of materials.

Jack Duganne of Duganne Ateliers

Where did the term Giclée come from?
‘Giclée’ is based on the French word gicleur, which means 'nozzle' or the verb gicler meaning to squirt, spurt, or spray

Who uses Giclée prints?
There are more and more artists seeing the magic in art stimulated by technology. They are applying new-media tools to revolutionise the world of fine art and make their artwork more accessible. See the art of Hatch-D artists Mat Hughes and Andy McIntyre

In flux series by Mat Hughes. Priced from $430.

Why buy a Giclée print?
There are a number of reasons you might choose to buy a Giclée print.
Perhaps you love the work of an artist but can’t afford to buy an original work. Perhaps you want a limited edition high quality print that will last a lifetime rather than the mass produced prints that you’ll find in homewares stores and art shops (think Ikea and the gallery stores you find in shopping centres).
Perhaps you are looking for some resale value - Giclée prints are often restricted to limited editions and usually come with a certificate of authenticity.

How is a Giclée print made?
Either the work is produced digitally to begin with or an original artwork is wrapped on a drum scanner and a high resolution scan is made.  If the artwork is too large, a colour transparency is made of the artwork and scanned. This scan is a far superior quality to what you would achieve on the flatbed scanner in your home office. A Giclée print is then created using a large format inkjet printer using light fast inks on archival quality paper or canvas. 

HP DesignJet Z3200 Photo Printer series - 12-ink printer

How do you tell if its a real Giclée print?
Resolution: Unlike machine or screen prints, there will be no visible dots or matrix patterns and the hues and vignettes will have all the tonal qualities of an original. These inkjet printers used to create Giclée prints will have 8 and sometimes 12 nozzles, each applying a different colour to the print resulting in stunning depth of colour and tone.

Editions: Some Giclée prints will be hand finished or signed, numbered and/or dated by the artist. If it is part of a limited edition it may also come with a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Substrate: The Giclée print may be on canvas or paper, mounted, framed or as a loose leaf. The paper will be archival quality, 100% cotton or rag, acid free.

Colour: The inks will be lightfast pigment inks rather than dye based inks. The fade resistant inks are generally light fast in the sun for up to 25 years and up to 200 years in normal lighting conditions without significant fading.

Limited edition White Chucks and detail of Black Chucks by Andy McIntyre AKA Little Bone. Edition of 10. $520 each.

See Giclée Prints 101 on You Tube with Karen Talbot

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