The word giclée was adopted by Jack Duganne, a printmaker working at Nash Editions. He wanted a name for the new type of prints they were producing on the Iris printer, a large-format, high-resolution industrial prepress proofing inkjet printer they had adapted for fine-art printing.
He was specifically looking for a word that would not have the negative connotations of “inkjet” or “computer generated”. It is based on the French word gicleur, which means “nozzle” (the verb form gicler means “to squirt, spurt, or spray”).
An unintended consequence of Duganne’s choice of name was its problematic use in the French language since it is also modern French slang…don’t laugh….. for male ejaculation ….ok just a little giggle .
Artists generally use inkjet printing to make reproductions of their original two-dimensional artwork, photographs, or computer-generated art. Professionally produced inkjet prints are much more expensive on a per-print basis than the four-colour offset lithography process traditionally used for such reproductions. (A large-format inkjet print can cost more than $50, not including scanning and colour correction, compared to $5 for a four-colour offset litho print of the same image in a run of 1,000.) Four-color offset lithographic presses have the disadvantage of the full job having to be set up and produced all at once in a mass edition. With inkjet printing the artist does not have to pay for the expensive printing plate setup or the marketing and storage needed for large four-colour offset print runs. This allows the artist to follow a just-in-time business model in which inkjet printing can be an economical option, since art can be printed and sold individually in accordance with demand.
Inkjet printing has the added advantage of allowing artists to take total control of the production of their images, including the final colour correction and the substrates being used, and it is even feasible for individual artists to own and operate their own printer.
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 printing is meant to produce a product at a higher quality and longer lifespan than a standard desktop inkjet printer. Originally, the word was used to describe digital reproductions of conventional artworks (painting or drawing) or photographs.
Any image that is to be printed as a giclee needs to be created at a resolution of no less than 300 dots per inch (DPI). In the case of a photo or conventional artwork reproduction, that means that the camera or scanner used to capture the image or scan the artwork must be able to do so at 300 DPI.
For giclee printing, the paper or substance used to actually print the final piece must be of archival quality. Any professional series paper will probably indicate if it is archival quality on the box. Typically it will say it is acid free and consists of a 100% cotton or rag base.
The last step to creating or confirming a true giclee print is the type of ink and printer used. The biggest contrast between a standard inkjet print and a giclee print is that giclees are printed using pigment-based inks rather than the dye-based inks found in lower cost inkjets.
Pigment-based inks have a longer life span that can last anywhere from 100 to 200 years without significant fading. The type of printer used to create giclees is usually a larger format printer that specifically uses pigment-based inks and will hold around 8 to 12 different color ink cartridges. The more inks used, the more sophisticated the color range available on final output.
So to summarise it in short …Giclée represents high quality ,you are not just getting a photocopy of the original you are paying for the next best thing to the original piece , it has cost much more to reproduce using expensive archival inks , large format printers , and incredibly high quality archival papers , that will last as long if not longer than the original , and even though it may not be inexpensive compared to the cost of an original it is more affordable .