What is a “Giclée”?

A giclée (pronounced – jee-clay) is a very fancy term for a print made by a fine art inkjet printer, fine art printers have 6 or more ink colors (ours have 10), use archival inks and the prints are printed on museum quality archival papers and canvas. We use the term “Giclée” to differentiate it from a print made by a commercial printer that does not meet the criteria above, generally a 4 color printer like the kind of printers used to make business cards, flyers or brochures, those kinds of printers will not produce a “giclée” even if they are inkjet printers, your home office inkjet printer will also not produce a giclée print. A giclée printer will reliably reproduce color consistently no matter how many prints you print because the print is produced from a digital file that does not degrade over time or use.

Other terms for a giclée print are – archival print, archival inkjet print, digital print, fine art digital print, archival pigment print – these are all the same, a rose is a rose no matter what you call it. Generally photographers do not refer to the prints made by a fine art printer as giclée they use one of the other terms, in fact many photographers vehemently oppose the term “giclée” – fine artists who print reproductions of their work are more likely to call them giclées. What name an artist uses to describe the print is entirely up to them and they can use any name they choose and in fact many galleries have established names for what these prints are called. No matter what they are ultimately called in the end it is the quality of the printing process that is most important. All of the terms listed above are meant to refer to the print as a print that has been produced on a fine art printer using archival inks on premium media – these are not prints from Walmart. There are no set standards in the industry as to what achieving this level of quality entails so it is important for the consumer to educate themselves and ask the fine art printer what kind of printer they are using, are they using the manufacturers inks or are they using after market inks, they should be able to show you paper samples and let you know which brands they use and why, they should be skilled in color management and know how to control the color in the printer.

We’re always happy to show anyone interested in fine art printing our studio and answer questions about fine art printing in general or specific projects.