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Wide Format Printers
Published on
January 21, 2022

Breathe New Life Into Your Art With Giclée Printing

Giclee printing process
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Chris Williams
January 21, 2022

I'm a driven, creative marketing guru known for making serious waves in the digital marketing space. I love thinking outside the box and am always on the lookout for fresh ways to shake up marketing communications and drive growth. I'm all about delivering top-notch results and never settling for "good enough."

Selling an original piece to a private collector is an ultimate goal for any artist; but it’s a one-time thing. Sharing one’s artwork for the world to appreciate is only possible if they’re fortunate enough to have their piece showcased in a museum or an exhibit. Today’s state-of-the-art printing technology, however, has changed the painting landscape — pun intended. High-quality, museum-level reproductions of an original art piece can now be made through the Giclee printing. Giclee is a fine art printing technology that preserves and reproduces all the unique elements of an art and makes art pieces accessible to more art lovers. 

What is a Giclée Printing? 

Giclée printing is a superior, fine art print technology that reproduces prints using advanced, large-format inkjet printers and pigment-based, archival quality inks. 

“Giclée,” pronounced “zhee-clays,” originates from 2 French words; “gicleur,” which means nozzle or jet, and “gicler,” which means to spray or squirt. The term “Giclée” was coined in 1991 by Jack Duganne, a printmaker. 

Giclée inkjet printers have tiny spraying mechanisms that precisely match colors and apply inks to create high-quality reproduction prints of original artwork.  

Reproduction prints of famous paintings have been around for a long time; but these are average or poor quality copies that are often sold as souvenirs. For artists who want to create superior quality reproduction prints of their work as a business strategy, asking what is a giclee print Giclée print is the right question. It’s the best option.  

Types of Print 

Traditional printmaking is considered an art in itself; there are a wide variety of techniques which include woodcutting, etching, engraving, and lithography. The craft has since evolved into the modern technologies of screen print and digital printing. 

Giclée printing is currently the gold standard in digital print technology and is the ideal method for reproducing museum-quality artwork. To create high-quality Giclée prints, an artist must have the following:

  • A high-resolution camera or scanner to capture or scan the artwork
  • Pigment-based archival ink
  • Canvas, vinyl, watercolor paper, or archival specialty printing paper
  • Large-format inkjet printer that can hold up to 12 ink cartridges

What is a Giclée Print versus Other Print Technologies? 

Giclée printing uses inkjet printer technology, but on a larger and more precise scale. A large model printer is usually necessary to produce a wide range of colors (from up to 12 individual pigment-based ink colors) when duplicating a piece of art. The original art must first be converted into an image file with at least 300 dots per inch (DPI) with the help of a high-resolution camera or scanner. The higher the DPI, the more color can be printed per square inch and the more detailed the reproduced print will be.  

In comparison, traditional print technologies are limited to the classic CMYK 4-color combination, which means that there are many colors and gradients that can’t be reproduced when creating a duplicate print. Screenprinting allows for greater color-matching possibilities, but it does not always capture the finer details of an artwork. Digital printing using a standard inkjet printer, on the other hand, is often limited by the resolution of the image, the type of ink used, and the number of colors the printer can hold.

A Giclée print has the same depth and richness as the original artwork as it reproduces the exact spectrum of colors, with flawless gradient transitions. The archival ink used also ensures longevity of color vibrance — this is especially important for prints that are hung on walls and exposed to different environmental elements. Photographs, scans of original artwork, digital designs, and almost any type of artwork can be reproduced using Giclée print technology.

Other Benefits of Giclée Printing

The demand for premium quality artwork reproductions has hugely increased over the past few years, with more and more people gaining an appreciation for their lasting aesthetic and investment value. With Giclée printing, artists can make their artwork available to more people and they can have full control over the quantity of prints to sell and, therefore, the market value of their work. Giclée printing gives artists more opportunities for exposure, to reach a wider audience, and to earn from their work. 

In terms of practical advantages, Giclée printing offers the following:

  • Speed of reproduction using a large-format inkjet printer
  • Precise reproduction of original artwork
  • High-quality final product, with the depth and richness of the original preserved in the prints   
  • Wide variety of art substrates that can be used: canvas, vinyl, specialty papers, and even metal
  • Long lifespan of prints with the use of pigment-based inks, which have superior color tone, can stay vibrant for 100-200 years, and are less likely to smear or stain

What Images are Best Suited to Giclée Printing 

The resolution of the original art’s image file — the digitized copy of the art after it is captured with a camera or scanned using a scanner — must have a minimum of 300 DPI to be printed as Giclée. The resolution determines the amount of detail that is captured in the digitized image. The minimum DPI requirement is necessary to ensure the precise reproduction of all the details of the original artwork — the higher the DPI, the more accurate the colors and gradients and the more detailed the final print. The right image resolution can be achieved by using a camera or scanner that can capture at least 300 DPI.   

Giclée printing is best suited for wall art pieces, such as photographs, paintings, and digital designs. 

Final Thoughts: Why Giclée Printing Paints a Bright Future for Artists

Reproduction Giclée prints open more opportunities for artists to gain appreciation for their artwork and to generate a steady stream of income. On the other end of the spectrum, art enthusiasts from all walks of life can have easy access to fine works of art with the more affordable but still high-quality Giclee prints.   

The demand for reproduction prints is still on the rise, and Giclée printing can usher in a renaissance of art appreciation not only among art connoisseurs but also any regular art enthusiast. Giclée prints can grace the hallways of luxury hotels or elevate the interiors of a suburban home. 

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