Q. I’ve seen the word Giclée used to describe limited edition prints. What does Giclée mean?

A. The word Giclée (pronounced “g-clay”) comes from the French verb meaning “to spray”. In the art world, Giclée is used to describe the fine art digital printing process where microscopic dots of ink are sprayed onto very high quality paper – often watercolour paper, and sometimes canvas.

Giclée print experts are highly skilled in their profession. It’s their job to make sure that the print represents the artist’s original work as closely as possible. Fine tuning the softness, richness, depth and sharpness of the print can take many hours to achieve the desired quality.

A Giclée print will undoubtedly cost more than a mass produced litho one but how can you be sure you are buying a true Giclée print? Well, firstly it may come with a certificate which states how the print was produced. If not, you should ask the gallery or artist to confirm the production method. There are three basic criteria that a Giclée print needs to meet:

  1. The scan of the original artwork must be no less than 300dpi (dots per inch)
  2. If the print is on paper, it must be of archivable quality, consisting of a 100% cotton or rag base and be acid free
  3. The inks used must be pigment and not dye based. Tip: look for ink names such as UltraChrome K3 by Epson, and LUCIA from Canon.

So now you are a Giclée expert! Apologies if the subject is a bit dry. It’s a tricky one of which to make light reading. But next time you visit a gallery and see a Giclée print – you’ll know what it is!