Probably the most misunderstood (and mispronounced) term to come into the Art World’s vernacular in a long time is the word Giclee – pronounced “GeeClay”.
In layman’s terms, a Giclee is a very high quality reproduction of an image that has been digitally scanned and then printed on quality art paper using a very sophisticated inkjet type printer. Done!
Let’s break that definition down a bit and examine it’s components.
- “High quality reproduction” – Yes, Giclee’s are reproductions. Not unlike photo offset reproductions like posters, they are essentially copies of an original.
- “Digitally scanned” – State of the art, high tech scanning techniques capture the image and all of it’s nuances in a way that photo mechanical techniques cannot. Brushstrokes, stippling, and color intensity are all captured accurately in this technique, and appear in the subsequent copy, making them extremely faithful to the original.
- “Printed on quality art paper” – The papers used in this type of reproduction set them apart from other forms like prints and posters that typically have a sheen or luster to them. These giclee papers are more porous and resemble watercolor paper. They receive the inks better and allow for better color saturation.
- “Sophisticated inkjet type printer” – Giclee printers are much larger than your desktop inkjet printer, and apply the inks with much more accuracy and intensity. But the basic principal is the same – ink is sprayed or “squirted” onto the paper in a pattern that is dictated by a computer that is “reading” the digital scan mentioned above.
And now for the $60,000 question – “Is Giclee an Artform?” The simple answer is NO. While Giclee’s have elevated Art Reproduction to a whole new level, they are still copies of originals that the Artist has had very little hands-on involvement with. Technology and hardware are the real stars here.
The take away here, then, is very simple. If you are interested in owning or collecting Original Art – a Giclee is not for you. If, however, you are looking to purchase a very high quality reproduction of an image you enjoy, then a Giclee should provide an affordable option to fill your needs.