What is a giclee print?

A giclee print is the highest quality print available today. The word giclee is a French word meaning 'to squirt', which is what an ink jet printer does. The process is digital printmaking with a printer that produces microscopic droplets of ink in variable sizes, to create prints that cannot be duplicated by other printing techniques. Because there is no visible dot screen pattern the resulting image has all of the subtle tonalities of the original art. Each dot may have over 4 billion possible colors! This produces exceptional museum quality prints.


The reproduction process begins with the digital acquisition of the image, either directly, using the Betterlight Digital Scanning Back on a 4x5 view camera, or in the form of a high-resolution scan of a film transparency of the original painting. The digital image is then sized, cropped, and color-matched for output. Once proofing begins, the artist and the printmaker form a creative partnership, the goal being the best possible realization of the artist's vision. Giclees can be made to exactly reproduce the original, or add subtle changes to enhance the color and contrast of the image, all at the discretion of the artist. Once the final proof is signed by the artist, the actual printing is ready to begin.

Canvas, paper, fabric or other substrates are loaded onto the printer. As the printer advances the substrate, a set of 12 ink heads traverses it and an incredibly small stream of ink is directed at the substrate. This stream of ink is composed of individual droplets, each about three picoliters in volume, tinier than a red blood cell. The process is controlled by the computer to provide an image that is faithfully reproduced.

Brilliant color and rich texture have made giclee prints the reproduction of choice for artists, photographers, museums, galleries, and collectors. Giclee editions are usually smaller in number than lithography, serigraphy, or offset printing, making them much more valuable. Unlike traditional printmaking processes, the last printed image in a giclee edition will be as vibrant and clear as the first one.


Nico Vandenheuvel

Still Life With Almonds