WHAT IS A GICLEE PRINT?
The first thing to learn is how to pronounce Giclee. Giclee is French and is pronounce Zhe-klay and means "to spray". In short, it uses high end inkjet printers to create fine art prints. Giclee is fairly modern as it was coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne. Giclee prints are printed on acid free archival paper, at least 300 dpi (dots per inch), pigment based inks and not dye based, and should last 100-200 years. Of course, if the print is in a frame with normal glass and put in the sun every day, it won’t last 100 years.
ARCHIVAL-ACID FREE PAPER
The term “archival” is an extremely permanent and cotton based paper. Most papers are made from wood-pulp based products. Wood based papers have lignin and will become brittle and turn yellow. Lignin is a product of the cell wall in plants. Cotton based archival paper is treated to remove the lignin and slightly alkaline or a neutral pH so it won’t yellow or become brittle. Paper that’s more alkaline holds ink better than others, causing fine art prints to last much longer than conventional wood-pulp products. The paper I use for fine art prints is the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta 315 GSM. It is 100% cotton paper with inkjet coatings and museum quality to withstand the test of time. I talk about this paper in a previous blog post. https://www.randybottphotograp...
PIGMENT vs DYE BASED INKS
Printing is done with 2 types of ink. Dye or pigment based. Dye is a color substrate dissolved in liquid while pigment is color particles suspended in fluid. Pigments offer superior UV protection over dyes, one of the many reasons fine art photographers prefer this ink. If you want a cheaper solution to print your phone photos at home, a dye ink printer will do the job.Most dye ink printers only have 4 colors, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black). That's not many colors to choose from when trying to print a fine art image. High end Giclee inkjet prints will have 12 ink cartridges to take full advantage of the color gamut. Fine art photographers expect their Giclee prints to last for generations, so fading is not an option. I’m old school and prefer to view my images on paper. Although I don’t sell the prints I make at home, it’s my process for viewing the final product. I have the Canon Pixma Pro-10 inkjet printer that uses pigment inks and can only print up to 13x19. It works great for what I use it for and it brought my editing to a new level by seeing my images in print.
WHAT IS 300 DPI?
In simple terms, 300 dpi (dots per inch) means the printer will put 300 dots of ink per 1 inch of paper. Why is this important? 300 dpi is considered a high resolution print. Viewing images on a screen, the resolution is around 72 dpi or ppi (pixels per inch) in computer monitor terms. The reason for the lower resolution is to optimize the image for a faster webpage. If the image was 300 dpi, the webpage would be slow and with our attention spans anymore, we don’t like to wait for pages to load. If you print 72 dpi images, the text will be fuzzy and image pixilated. That’s not good for a high resolution Giclee fine art print. When ordering a print from Randy Bott Photography, the resolution will be 300 dpi.
PURCHASE DIRECTLY FROM THE ARTIST
If you’re in the market for new fine art for home and a framed print is what you want, the best thing to do is purchase directly from the artist. The artist can say whether they use Giclee printing. If they don’t, find another artist. Artists aren’t willing to compromise on prints, so if they say it’ll be Giclee, you can trust that it will be. Besides, it’s always better to support artist than big box print stores. If you purchase from one of the big art websites like Art.com, it may not be Giclee so research what you’re buying first.
Purchasing fine art prints from an artist, you want the best materials possible. Framed paper prints look nice and stand the test of time. For paper prints to last, they must be Giclee. A nice cotton rag archival paper, inkjet printer, and 300 dpi for the high resolution. Not all prints are made the same, but when spending good money on a print, make sure it’s Giclee. All the paper prints in my fine art galleries are Giclee and will last for generations. I use high end print shops so I know the quality is sound. If you have questions, please reach out through my Contact Page and I will get back to you as soon as I can.