For all things thou art.



Fort Saskatchewan Art Society Information Booklet January 2009

Giclée Prints

FSAS Artsy LogoCourtesy of Fort Digital Imaging

Please note: This is the HTML version of a PDF Tri-Fold Brochure given to FSAS Membership upon request. If you wish to download a PDF version of this document, you can get it here. It is about 757kb in size, so people on Dial-Up may have to plan on a longer download time.

Welcome to the first of hopefully many Information Booklets to be created for the membership. In these Booklets, we hope to create further interest and discussion on all things Art, including styles, types, classes, tutorials, suggestions, activities and outings.

IN this first booklet, I thought that I would touch on some of the topics brought up at the last couple of meetings, and give some information on the new trend towards artists making and selling their artwork as “mass products” using Giclée Reproductions to easily market and profit from various selling options. So here we go with the full story:

Just what is Giclée?

At the end of the 1980's, Iris printers, originally designed as pre-press proofing machines, had become popular amongst artists and fine art photographers for reproducing their work. The Iris is essentially an early large-format inkjet printer.

This new medium needed a name, especially to distinguish the fine art prints from the pre-press proofs that were also being cranked out of the Iris printers.

In 1991 Jack Duganne of Nash Productions (the pioneers of fine art inkjet printing) came up with a word to identify and set the process apart from the rest. He wanted to stay away from words like "digital," and "computer," due to the negative view the world had about digital quality of the time.

Taking a cue from the French word for inkjet (jet d'encre), Duganne opened his pocket Larousse and searched for a word that was generic enough to cover most inkjet technologies at the time and hopefully into the future. He focused on the nozzle, which most printers used. In French, that was le gicleur. What inkjet nozzles do is spray ink, so looking up French verbs for "to spray," he found gicler, which literally means "to squirt, spurt, or spray." The feminine noun version of the verb is (la) giclée, (pronounced "zheeclay") or "that which is sprayed or squirted." An industry moniker was born.

Today the term has become synonymous with fine art inkjet printing, and is accepted by most artists and photographers.

Some clients prefer to label their prints "fine art digital prints," "inkjet prints," "pigment prints," or one of numerous appropriate titles.

The name was originally applied to fine art prints created on Iris printers but has since come to mean any high quality ink-jet print and is often used in galleries and print shops to denote such prints.

For many, the term "giclée" has become part of the printmaking landscape; a generic word, like Kleenex, that has evolved into a broader term that describes any high-quality, digitally produced, fine-art print.

Giclée Professional Standards

As the Inkjet printer became householditems, Professional Printers and Reproduction Specialists created organizations with “standards” relating to this new industry – Giclée Reproductions. There are several standards, but most have to do with the resolution of the scanned piece of art, with 200dpi being the accepted standard.

Another is the standard of the inks used. Early printers only used 3 colours, then 4 colours, then 6, 8, 12 and even more ink colours, all used at the same time on the same machine to match the huge colour gamut some artists insist on having on their reproductions. The difference between using a 4-color and a 12 colour is very subtle, sometimes only noticable in the shading and transitions between various colours, but overall, requiring the use of a loup to see the differences.

The final standard is the quality of the inks – lifespan and fade resistance. Early inks faded within 2-3 years, but newer professional printing inks can last up to 200 years. Desktop inkjet printers, as used in offices or at home, all use aqueous inks based on a mixture of water, glycol and dyes or pigments. These inks are inexpensive to manufacture, but are difficult to control on the surface of media, often requiring specially coated media. Aqueous inks are mainly used in printers with thermal inkjet heads, as these heads require water in order to perform.

The lifetime of inkjet prints produced by inkjets using aqueous inks is limited; they will eventually fade and the color balance may change. On the other hand, prints produced from solvent-based inkjets may last several years before fading, even in direct sunlight, and so-called "archival inks" have been produced for use in aqueous-based machines which offer extended life.


The Giclée advantage

Giclée prints are advantageous to artists who do not find it feasible to mass produce their work, but want to reproduce their art as needed, or on-demand. Once an image is digitally archived, additional reproductions can be made with minimal effort and reasonable cost. The prohibitive up-front cost of mass production for an edition is eliminated. Archived files will not deteriorate in quality as negatives and film inherently do. Another tremendous advantage of giclee printing is that digital images can be reproduced to almost any size and onto various media, giving the artist the ability to customize prints for a specific client.

Numerous examples of giclée prints can be found in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Chelsea Galleries. Recent auctions of giclée prints have fetched $10,800 for Annie Leibovitz, $9,600 for Chuck Close, and $22,800 for Wolfgang Tillmans (April 23/24 2004, Photographs, New York, Phillips de Pury & Company.)

Selling Your Giclée prints

How much to charge for your Giclée or art prints is the big question. How do we ever decide on pricing art? Take the scan cost plus a metre’s prints and the cost of mailing tubes etc and divided it by the number of prints per metre. Then mark it up to double your cost for your basic price on your website or for selling directly through exhibitions. Try to keep the cost low to increase turnover.

Find art shops to sell your work. Obviously they need to make a profit too, so offer them discounts. Consider venturing onto eBay, iOffer or Yahoo.

Try to limit each edition and sign each one. Usually the smaller the edition, the higher the cost, but you can do any amount you wish. Some decided on 50 to 500 to keep the cost low. You do not have to carry a large inventory or have the whole run printed at once as in days of old. You now have a high quality digital copy, and simply get what you need when you need them on demand. The good thing about this is that you can customize and modify your digital copy to suit your customers requirements, including size, colours, and most especially. the media on which the customer wishes the print!


Remember, if you painted the artwork, and it was not commissioned and even if you sold the original, you can still print as many copies as you like. So, if you like the work you have done, take the time and have it scanned as a High-quality Digital Copy (PhotoShop or TIFF format) for future uses.

Portions of this brochure provided by ©1997-2009 Giclée Print Net, Inc.