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What is a Giclee Print?

How are Giclee art prints made?

By Denise Macgregor

Giclee Print Two's Company

Giclee Print Two's Company by Denise Macgregor

In giclee printing, no screen or other mechanical devices are used and therefore there is no visible dot screen pattern. The image has all the tonalities and hues of the original painting. Giclee (pronounced Gee’clay) is a French term meaning to spray or squirt, which is how an inkjet printer works. However, it is not the same as a standard desktop inkjet printer, and is much larger. Giclee prints are a little over a metre wide and are often affectionately referred to as a “knitting machine” as they look very similar.

Do Giclee printers use ordinary printers inks?
No. They use special light-fast inks, which, if kept out of the sun, will remain true for up to 25 years. The way the image is scanned is different also. The original is scanned directly on a drum scanner, in my printer’s case, it can scan flexible images up to 500 x 700 mm. If the image is larger, or cannot be taken off the stretcher frames, then a large format transparency must be taken of the piece, and this is then scanned. I have done one this way, and find that it works quite well, but you must factor in the cost of the professional photograph, and the additional time it takes.

What kind of printing paper is used for Giclee prints?
Giclee prints can be produced on any paper as you wish, and printers generally have several specific ones to choose from. I chose to print on to canvas. My original paintings are on canvas, and I wanted the Giclee prints to be as close to the originals as possible, not only in colour, but also in texture. And canvas prints are much more durable than paper as they do not crease when rolled for mailing.

How many Giclee prints did you have to make?
One of the advantages of Giclee printing is that once the scan is made, you can order as many or as few as you wish. My printer has a minimum order of one metre (they usually do charge by the metre as canvas is expensive, and generally comes on a roll a metre wide). I could easily have gone larger, but I sized my giclee prints 11 x 11” (28 x 28 cm). The main reason for this is that this particular size would fit standard Ikea frames which are the best I could find for the money and are very popular here. And as there was spare canvas left over, we printed small ones too…5 x 5” (12.5 x 12.5 cm) to use up the extra canvas. My original intention was to use these small Giclee prints as samples, perhaps to someone who was considering purchasing an original, but surprisingly they have become very popular, so I have included them in the limited edition count. Again, they fit in standard frames.

Parts of this Feature:
Part 1: Why Make Giclee or Art Prints
Part 2: What a Giclee Print Is and How It's Made
Part 3: Selling Art Prints


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