What is a giclee print and why is it a good investment? Basically, a giclee is a top-of-the-line inkjet print. Its fancy pronunciation (zhee-clay) is a French word meaning “to spray” or “to squirt”. This refers to ink applied to a substrate, the base material onto which art will be printed, painted, or created.
You are most likely familiar with the terms serigraph and lithograph. With the advancement of modern technology, the giclee print process has virtually replaced the production of serigraphs and lithographs, where you had to produce 100s to 1000s of copies at a time. This was an expensive upfront cost for the artist. Giclee prints, on the other hand, can be printed one at a time or what is known as print-on-demand.
Art Print Defined
While it’s easy to call any printed image, an “art print,” the Print Council of America defines the term this way: when an original image (drawn, painted, etc.) is then printed in a limited number by the artist; these limited editions are signed and numbered by the artist. In other words, an art print is a reproduction of an original piece of art.
To print a giclee, a 12 color inkjet printer squirts special pigments (not dyes) onto archival quality material. This could be 100% cotton paper, linen rag, or canvas. Because of the pigments and print medium, giclee prints demonstrate longevity with fade-resistant colors.
Limited editions are typically marked on the bottom left side of the print just below the printed image, and are most commonly marked like a fraction. For example, if you see the numbers 25/100 this means that print is the 25th print produced out of a limited edition series of 100.
You may notice that an artist’s signature appears twice on a limited edition print. The first signature is from the original and is duplicated with each print that is made. As the artist adds the limited edition numbers by hand to each print, they may also sign the print a second time, either on the front or on the back, resulting in double signatures.
See the example below of a double signature on a limited edition giclee print by western artist Howard Terpning. It shows his signature on the original painting and the year he created it, along with a second signature with limited edition numbers.
Hand Embellishment on Canvas
Artists and galleries are seeing an increased demand for embellished limited-edition canvases. What is embellishing and why is it so popular? When we’re talking about art on canvas, embellishing refers to painting over select areas of the image to enhance color and/or to add brush strokes to the finished work.
Embellishing techniques are as unique as the artists themselves. Some artists use oil paints while others use clear gesso. Gesso (pronounced “Jesso”) adds texture and allows the artist to obscure things or add another layer to the canvas.
In either case, the canvas has more texture and dimension when it is embellished and looks more like an original.
Why A Giclee Print is a Good Investment
What makes giclee prints so special? Here are five good reasons:
That inkjet printer on your desk may produce good quality documents and photo prints but it may likely use up to only 6 inks. A professional large format fine art printer used to print a giclee uses from 10 to 12 inks. This allows for finer gradients and vivid hue and depth of color. Giclee prints are also created with pigment inks, rather than dyes, providing more accurate color reproduction.
Resolution is the dots of ink per square inch or in technology terms, the number of pixels per inch. The more dots you have in a print and the finer they are, the more realistic your reproduction will appear. A desktop inkjet printer may boast a high-resolution output, but a giclee printer also boasts a high resolution, paired with a finer spray, so the smoothness of the print is substantially more sophisticated.
Giclee printers can print on a huge variety of substrates with various thicknesses and finishes. When printing on artist-grade canvas the fine art giclee printers can handle the thickness and texture of the canvas. Also, giclee prints are archival, meaning they will never yellow or deteriorate.
A giclee print will last 100 years or more without the degradation of inks or fading of color. So be sure you select a composition your grandchildren will like! Because of their resilience, a giclee print can also be framed without the bulkiness of glass and matting.
Often, giclee prints come as “gallery wrapped”, meaning the canvas wraps around the sides and is secured to wood stretcher bars. Just hang as is or select a frame of your choice. Your local frame shop can easily insert it into a frame that you choose.
A fine art giclee print is a valid investment when the cost of original artwork is too high. It’s also a fabulous option for artists looking to offer a lower price point to customers while maintaining the quality and originality of their work.
Since a giclee can be produced on demand, this lessens the financial risk for an artist. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of giclee printing is how easy it is to order. Many printers have implemented an online ordering process in which anyone, not just professional photographers or artists, can print any image you send from your computer, phone, or tablet.
Final Thoughts – Giclee Print is a Good Investment
If you are new to art collecting or the thought of dropping thousands of dollars on an original painting isn’t in the budget, then purchasing a giclee print is a viable alternative.
Visit our Gallery to see our current inventory of Fine Art Giclee Prints.
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