"The Bee Keeper," hand signed, limited edition giclée on paper by Shannon Crees
In our first blog of this series - “Carpe Print-em!” - we talked about the different print types. One of the types mentioned was the digital print. As the subject of digital prints is vast, we’ve made an executive decision and chosen to single out one of the many, and explore the humble giclée 😀
Simply, 'giclée' is a term to describe high quality inkjet prints.
An eensy-weensy bit of history about the zhee-KLAY
'Giclée' originally applied to fine art prints created on IRIS printers - a large-format, high-resolution, colour inkjet printer introduced in 1985 by Iris Graphics.
Enter Jack Duganne. Jack Duganne, a printmaker, artist and photographer, was looking for a fancy name for the new types of prints being produced at Nash Editions at the time. The name needed to sound better than ‘inkjet’ and ‘computer generated’ and so the French word ‘giclée' was adopted.
An unfortunate choice of name...
‘Giclée’ is based on the French word gicleur, which means "nozzle" (the verb form gicler means "to squirt, spurt, or spray"). Yes, we took the snigger factor and made it our blog title. Yes, we’re juvenile - but it’s funny!
Unintentionally, Duganne's word choice was problematic as it is also French slang for male ejaculation. Oops! wikipedia
On to identification...
A giclée is a high quality digital print using archival quality inks. These inks maintain image stability and colour durability better than other inks.
The ink is ‘sprayed’ onto the page resulting in greater colour accuracy, and truer shades and hues, than other methods of reproduction. As a result, giclée prints can be almost indistinguishable from an original work (they can, and have been passed off as originals so be aware).
What are you on?
Giclées can be printed using materials such as canvas, paper of different textures and weights, vinyl and transparent acetates.
To help you identify a giclée, firstly look at the material the image is printed on.
Canvas the area
Giclées are commonly used to reproduce paintings on canvas.
To determine whether you’re looking at an original or a giclée, look at the image. Does the image look like it has ‘seeped’ into the canvas, or do you see layers of paint resting on top? If the former, then you’re likely looking at a giclée.
To throw you a curveball, hand applied texture can be added to giclée prints so make sure you’re wearing your super sleuth goggles.
Are you being framed?
If the work you are looking at is in a frame, have the work removed and look at the edges of the image. Generally, an original will have rough and uneven paint edges with splotches, marks, paint stains and smudges. If you can see straight edges (often surrounded by a blank border), you are most likely seeing a mechanical reproduction.
In giclée printing, ink is applied in microscopic droplets. Under magnification, the dots of ink sprayed on the paper by an inkjet printer can sometimes be visible as separate dots of red, blue, yellow or black (this can go up to eight colours) in the paler sections of the image. This identification method won’t directly point the finger at a giclée, but it will tell you if there has been any mechanical involvement in the work.
To sum up:
- Giclées are high quality digital prints.
- They can be printed on materials such as canvas, paper and vinyl.
- Does the image look like it has ‘seeped’ into the canvas?
- They are a great way for artists to make images of their art more widely available.
- Under magnification, you may see evidence of mechanical involvement.
Fun $$$ Factoid
Giclées can be found in many museum collections across the globe and can be quite valuable. Giclée prints by Annie Leibovitz, Chuck Close and Wolfgang Tillmans have fetched thousands of dollars at auction.
The jury is undecided whether giclées are considered art but, from our perspective, it doesn’t really matter as long as you love it 😀
"Blow Fish," hand signed, limited edition giclée by Nanami Cowdroy