Art prints are the reproductions of original artworks of a painter. Of the different types of art print making like screen printing, lithography, reliefs, wood cut, etc, Giclee art prints are high in demand. Though they are costlier than the rest of the art prints, the print's resemblance to the original makes it valuable. However they are fairly less expensive and affordable than the original artwork. Graham Nash and Jon Cone were the first to observe the high quality of Giclee Canvas Art Prints created by the Iris ink-jet printer. This ink jet technology was used to develop Giclee Canvas Art Printing that made reproductions easier and associated it with museum quality fine art.
Jack Duganne, who coined the term Giclée, or fine-art digital print, says he sees "the magic in art stimulated by technology" (Duganne 2001). Duganne is one of the few artists who couple the latest technology in creating art prints. Giclee derives from the French word 'glicer' that originally means to spurt or to spray fluid. Giclee Printing has been in use since the 1980s. While normal printing methods are very popular and easily accessible, these are degraded in their quality, whereas Giclee Prints are fast and high quality canvas prints. Giclee allows artists to make prints on demand and does not require to be printed in large numbers.
Giclee Printing method involves three main procedures namely, scanning, digital imaging and, finally, printing. The process of Giclee Printing begins with the digitization of the artwork, preferably by scanning. The scanned image then goes for proofing, which is the process of matching the color, shade, contrast and form with the original artwork. It defines the way the print looks on canvas or paper. Proofing for Giclee Canvas Art Prints is carried out by the artist and printmakers. The artist thus re-paints his work on a digital platform with the help of the computer. The proof is printed and checked for the right color. Once the artist approves it, it is stamped as 'bon a tirer', BAT, meaning 'good to print.'
The BAT prints are printed using an ink-jet printer for prints of extremely high resolution, which can be printed in sizes up to 34x46 inches on essentially any surface. These printers are capable of printing an apparent resolution of 1800 DPI in a four color process color space which can generate over 16 million colors. (Duganne 2001). They can literally squirt more than 4 million microscopic droplets of ink per second onto the print. Giclee Prints are created typically using professional 8-Color to 12-Color ink-jet printers. Among the manufacturers of these printers are vanguards such as Epson, MacDermid Colorspan, and Hewlett-Packard. (About Giclee Printing, 2010).
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These printers use CMYK mode of color processing, thus availing multitudes of colors, variations, gradients, hues and tonalities. It also has a very high resolution and hence can provide the best quality Giclee Canvas Art Prints. The use of archival pigmented inks provides an expanded range of colors. Coupled with this, professional grade nozzles of inkjet printers and individual color profiling for each paper makes Giclee Prints a superior method of reproduction. After printing, a water- proof coating is applied, using a silk screen printer or sprayer. This is ideally a UV protective coating that helps the print pigment to settle down as it is water-based. The prints are then embossed and neatly packed. The use of fade-resistant inks has further improved printing and the name Giclee has become a quality symbol in the art world. Moreover, when high quality canvas and coating are used, these will augment the appeal and longevity of the print.
Giclee Canvas Art Prints also enjoy the advantage of its ability to create the shade and texture of the original painting. It does not make use of any man made devices like screen and, therefore, is free of dot pattern. It adopts a knitting pattern and weaves the original painting. Giclee Prints can be printed in any medium ranging from canvas, to paper and other prints. However, Giclee Canvas Art Print, which is reproduced on canvas, will show more resemblance in texture and color to the original. Canvas Prints are more long lasting and durable than paper as it will not wrinkle or allow the formation of grooves when folded or rolled. Giclee Prints, once scanned, can be reproduced in any number and in any size. Unlike lithography and serigraphy, Giclee Prints can be produced by individuals and does not require a separate storage and printing facilities. The print makers can also control the production of images. It is economically viable and is widely used by artists and printmakers worldwide as an alternative to screen printing and lithography.
Giclee Prints belong to the most resembling and archival prints of artworks. It has been able to achieve the same color balance and conformity as the original. By maintaining a light fastness for over 100 years and up to 200 years, Giclee Prints obtain their high quality. The difference between normal digital print and Giclee Print lies in the choice of medium available. The photographic prints are restricted to paper choices while Giclee Prints can be printed on watercolor paper, canvas and other mediums. Giclees allows standard size variations: A small Giclee is7.5 x 9.5 inches, a medium Giclee 10 x 14 inches and a large Giclée of14 x 19 inches. Numerous examples of Giclee Prints can be found in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Chelsea Galleries. Recent auctions of Giclee Prints have fetched $10,800 for Annie Leibovitz, $9,600 for Chuck Close, and $22,800 for Wolfgang Tillmans (April 23/24 2004, Photographs, New York, Phillips de Pury & Company) (About Giclee Printing, 2010).
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Giclee Prints are mostly used as Limited Edition Prints because of the high quality they offer. Giclee Limited Edition reproduction prints makes the art more widely available at a feasible price and encourages the collectors by offering affordable alternatives to more expensively priced originals. Apart from being a reliable and durable print making technique, Giclee printing also allows the artist and print maker to customize the prints according to the needs and preferences of the buyer. At present there are five basic kinds of Giclee prints, the computer-generated images similar to the original Giclee prints, the digitally printed photographs, reproduced Giclee prints of images scanned into computers, digital photographs or scanned images that are manipulated before printing using photo editing software like Photoshop and digital images of any kind that can be altered after printing.
With the popularity of the technique and its widespread use, the variations in the quality of Giclee prints are arising due to the difference in technology and equipments used. This was a major threat to the status of Giclee Prints as a 'high quality' print. In 2001 the Giclee Printers Association (GPA) was formed. It came up with certain standards that distinct highest quality giclee print from lower quality ink-jet print. The term: "Tru Giclee" created by GPA means highest quality. The GPA has approved a pretty short list of printing materials and equipment that qualifies to bear its logo. (Histoty of Giclee, 2010). Giclee Canvas Art Prints have been an innovation in the printmaking industry and art reproduction. The color accuracy and gradation that it is capable of obtaining has astounded many art appreciates to bring home the Giclee Prints. The methods and techniques of Giclee have been evolving and more and more advancement is being made in maintaining and enhancing the quality of Giclee Art prints.