Giclée Prints Part 1: A Great Giclée

Most buyers and artists have an idea of what a giclée print is but most don't realize there are significant differences between an acceptable giclée and a great giclée. This post will be the first in a series of posts on the details of making, selling, and buying giclee prints.

There are four basic things to consider when making or buying a giclée print. I will go into more detail in future posts.

Printer/Ink: Giclée is a high-quality archival inkjet print. Printers vary in dot size and inks vary in longevity. Be careful, because even the best printer can be run at a more economical setting, resulting in a soft and dull print. The key is to ask a lot of questions if you're buying prints, and provide a lot of information if you're selling prints. In a later post, I will list questions to ask your printer.

Paper: The best option is 100% rag paper without optical brightener agents (OBA). Optical brighteners make paper look bright white but can react with atmospheric pollutants and yellow over time. The paper must also be compatible with the printer and ink for optimal longevity.

Image: This is the part hardest to get right. Great photography of artwork for reproduction can really only be done by a professional. Getting a high-resolution, color-correct digital file will ensure your print has depth, saturation, detail and sharpness. Many professional photographers who specialize in fine art reproduction are using digital scanning backs that create files many hundreds of megabits or even gigabits. 

Matting and/or Framing: giclée prints, like other works on paper, should be protected from UV light, moisture and atmospheric pollutants. Always use 100% acid-free materials. Avoid adhesives and use polyethylene bags to protect your print before it is framed.

In the end, you can have the best printer and paper, but what's the point if your digital file is just okay. And why put that great print in a frame that is going to ruin it in a couple years. In my next couple posts I will go into further detail in each of these categories and explain some of my experiences over the past ten years of making giclée prints.

Giclée Prints Part 2: Printer and Ink

Giclée Prints Part 3: Paper

Below are details of some of my paintings taken with a BetterLight scanning back.