photo printing


Giclee! A fancy term with its fancy-pants pronunciation (“zhee-clay” – a version of the French word ‘la giclée’, meaning ‘that which is sprayed or squirted’). So why all the fuss about a giclee print?

In simple words, giclee is the French word for “to spray” or “to squirt,” and in general recognized as a term that refers to ink applied on a substrate. All giclee printing is technically inkjets, but not all inkjets are giclee. Giclee printing produces a product of a higher quality and with a longer lifespan than a standard desktop inkjet printer.

So why are giclee prints worth the money? Besides a French name? Check out some of the reasons:


A regular inkjet printer on your desk may be a good one, and may even provide you with good-quality photo prints, but it’s likely to use no more than 6 inks. Giclee prints are also created with pigment inks, rather than dyes used in ordinary inkjets, providing more accurate color reproduction.

Pigments create a richer and more vibrant color. A Giclee printer uses between 10 and 12 pigment inks to reproduce the artwork, which results in an output that is truer than the original piece. Pigments are lightfast than dyes, which makes a Giclee print more immune to color change due to light exposure over time.


Resolution is the dots of ink per square inch or the number of pixels per inch. The more dots you have in a print and the finer they are, the more realistic your reproduction will appear. A desktop inkjet printer may promise a high-resolution output, but a giclee printer not only promises a high resolution but is also paired with a finer spray, so the smoothness of the print is substantially more sophisticated and high-quality finish.


A giclee printer can print on a wide variety of substrates with varying thicknesses and finishes. That is, we can print an image that was originally a watercolor, on very high-quality, heavy paper to achieve the most realistic reproduction printing possible. The same goes for canvas. We can use artist-grade canvas because a fine art giclee printer can handle the thickness and texture of the substrate. It’s also important to understand that the giclee prints are archival, meaning they will not undergo the significant fading experienced in ordinary prints or deteriorate.

Quality Giclee printing companies use archival paper which is a specially formulated paper that is made to withstand the general rigors of aging, specifically light, it’s acid-free, lignin-free, and either 100% cotton or an alpha-cellulose exclusively. The archival paper doesn’t yellow with age like regular paper and can last upwards of 200 years without showing signs of age.


The biggest contrast between a standard inkjet print and a giclee print is that giclee is printed using pigment-based inks rather than the dye-based inks found in lower-cost inkjets. Pigment-based inks have a longer lifespan. A giclee printer is often a larger format model that specifically uses pigment-based inks and holds around eight to 12 different color ink cartridges. The number of inks used, the more sophisticated the color range available on the final print output.

A giclee print is created to last. 100+ years of life is standard without the degradation of inks resulting in fading color provided proper care is taken by the owner.

A fine art giclee print is quite a valid investment when the original artwork is too expensive. It’s also a very good option for professionals looking to offer a lower price option to customers while maintaining the quality and originality of their work.

As we now know what giclee printing is, let’s find out what can be replicated using it!

Since the Giclee printing process utilizes such high-resolution printing and high-quality materials, almost all original artwork can be processed. Irrespective of the painting medium whether oil, acrylic, or watercolor, Giclee printing can successfully translate the original look and feel of the artwork. Due to the high-quality results from Giclee printing, it’s fast becoming the most sought-after medium of photographic printing.

The advantages to artists producing their work as a giclee print are that it can be created ‘on-demand’. Since the giclee printing process is digital and does not require a large number needed for an offset print order, or the time and cost that goes into traditional screen printing, it serves to be a good way for artists to produce their own prints rather than requiring a second party printer.

Keep in mind that when purchasing a print that indicates it’s a giclee print; make sure that the type of ink, paper, and sometimes printer used, is mentioned.

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