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If you’re an artist or collector, you’ve probably come across giclée printing. A favourite of gallerists and artists for their vivid colour and longevity, giclée prints have become the go-to printing style for high-quality digital art, photography and reproductions. But what is it that differentiates giclée printing from other printing styles? Today we’re diving into the world of giclée printing to learn what it is, how it compares to other printing styles and the benefits of using giclée printing.

Where does Giclée come from?

Let’s start at the very beginning. The term giclée (pronounced zhee-clay) first came into the modern lexicon in the 1990s with printmaker Jack Duganne. Duganne was looking for a term to differentiate the high-quality prints he was producing from the lower quality mass-manufacture IRIS prints that were routinely used at this time for commercial proofs. As digital printing was relatively new at this time and not well regarded by the art world, he wanted to refrain from using terms that may have negative connotations.

Instead, Duganne looked towards the printing process itself. Giclée is a dry, halftone printing technique, which means that the image is created by firing tiny droplets of ink, known as half-tone patterns, onto specially coated archival paper to build colour. The word giclée combines the french words for nozzle (le gicleur) and spray (la giclée) to create the industry moniker we know today.

What is Giclée printing?

Today, the term giclée is used to refer to a high-resolution art printing created using high-quality, pigment-based inks, archival paper, and printed on a professional, wide-format inkjet printer. In order to maintain the quality of a giclée print, images must have a resolution of at least 300 DPI or dots per inch. A higher resolution means that more dots of colour will be printed, and thus your final image will appear sharper and in more detail.

Alongside the resolution, true giclée prints use pigment-based inks to produce accurate, vivid colours, combined with acid-free, archival papers to ensure the longevity of the artwork. Due to the quality of these materials, when stored in the proper conditions, giclée prints can last for over 100+ years without fading or deteriorating.

Benefits of Giclée printing

One of the main benefits of giclée printing is the wide range of vivid colours the printing style is able to produce. Unlike many printing styles that use CMYK 4-colour combination or c-type printing which uses silver halide, giclée printing uses up to 12 colours of pigment-based ink to create a rainbow of sumptuous colours. Because of the extra inks used, giclée printing produces smoother gradient transitions and a wider colour gamut than other printing styles and gives giclée prints more depth and richness.

Another benefit of giclée printing is the speed at which prints can be made. While lithographs can take hours to produce, a high-quality giclée print can be produced in a matter of minutes and sent directly to you, your client, or a gallery exhibiting your work. This quick turnaround is great for entrepreneurs looking to sell their work on eCommerce platforms or artists looking to create limited edition prints.

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