We’re currently conducting market research for an innovative new system for displaying personalized guestroom artwork. Designers and property managers are invited to apply for participation in the pilot program starting Summer 2014. Find out more about the program and participation requirements by contacting Nat directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 720-936-1015 (US) or 07557 672217 (UK).
One of the most misunderstood, and perhaps controversial, terms you’ll hear around the art world is “giclée”. It’s used in reference to a type of art print and is based on a French word meaning “to spray”. A giclée print is an inkjet print; however, there’s more to the name and the story behind it.
The term was coined in the early 1990s, when digital inkjet printing first started to be used to produce art prints. Prior to this time, screen printing (serigraphy) and offset printing (lithography) were the primary methods used to make reproductions of artworks.
At the time (and maybe still to this day) there was a common notion that inkjet prints had questionable value in the art market, and for understandable reasons. Early inkjet prints were rarely of very high quality. Colors were inaccurate; detail was often lost in the reproduction. Worst of all, most early inkjet prints could not be expected to survive very long before their colors started fading or shifting.
For these reasons, along with skepticism and misunderstanding about this newfangled digital printing, people were dubious about purchasing anything made using the inkjet printing process.
In the early days, there weren’t very many printers capable of producing fine art quality prints. Iris printers, a product line developed by legendary digital imaging company Scitex, were among the first. But it wasn’t long before other printer companies, most notably Epson, joined the fray. (Over the past two decades, I’ve made fine art giclée prints using Iris, Epson and Canon printers, all with excellent results. Printers from other manufacturers, including Roland and HP, can also make fine giclées, provided the inks and media are up to snuff.)
The term “giclée”, then, was intended to give a fancy name to a better quality of inkjet print; one that might be expected to have archival qualities—and the resulting value—that artists and collectors desire.
Today, you’ll hear the word giclée bandied about very casually. What’s important to understand is this: while all giclée prints are inkjet, not all inkjet prints are giclée. In the fine art world—including fine art photography—correctly using the term gicleé means the print was made using archival methods and materials.
You get what you pay for
A consumer-grade inkjet printer costing $200 can’t reasonably be expected to produce fine art giclée prints. The main issue is permanence – how long the ink and paper (or other substrate) will faithfully preserve the image. (When a color begins to change, it’s referred to as fugitive.) A giclée made to archival standards can survive 100 years—or even much longer—without significant change, whereas a lower quality print will start to degrade within a few years …or sooner!
Most often, it’s a print on canvas that’s called giclée. In the case of fine reproductions of original paintings, giclée also often describes a print that has been embellished, by hand, with paint and/or other traditional mediums. Also, a giclée reproduction of a painting should match very closely the color and values in the original work—no easy feat.
But technically, a giclée can be a print on any substrate, so long as it meets archival standards. in other words, you could accurately refer to a fine print on archival watercolor paper as a giclée. But this is not the most common usage of the word.
Read the fine (art) print
If you’re a photographer or artist ordering prints from a service bureau and hoping to sell them as giclées, ask about the printing process. Be sure the materials are to archival standards. If you’re a collector or art specifier, the same rules apply, and the price of any print should always be relative to how it was made. If something is labeled giclée it should reasonably be expected to last for generations to come!
We’ve recently completed an overhaul of all our pricing models. (Our latest price revisions were in 2009!) I’m very happy to report that after all the work we did evaluating our products and pricing, most of the prices have remained the same. And in fact, the pricing for many of our larger print sizes actually came down!
Our ability to continue to offer such honest, affordable and attractive pricing for my artwork is due largely to improvements and wider availability for the processes and materials used to produce the work. We also have some new vendor relationships with industry partners offering better capabilities and quality, at fantastic prices. In addition, the volume of work being sold — in addition to our very low overhead — allows us to keep our prices very competitive.
We’ve made our most recent Retail Price Lists freely available on the main web site. We’ve also updated our wholesale pricing for trade partners and industry resellers. Feel free to contact us with any questions or for a custom price quote on your next project.
Our sincere thanks to all our valued clients for your continued support!
I recently completed a job for SCW Art Consulting in Durango, CO. They commissioned five large prints of photographs I made in various places around Colorado. The prints will be installed in a new hospital being built in Lakewood, CO. My thanks to Sarah Giuliano and the team at SCW!