What the Heck is Giclée?

You probably have noticed that with our products we offer some as giclee prints. And you may be wondering—what the heck is giclee, or giclée?

First, it's pronounced "zhee-CLAY" and basically it's a name for art printed with an inkjet printer; the term was conceived in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne. The word's origins are with the French word "gicler," which translates to "to squirt, spurt, or spray" (think of how the ink sprays onto the paper). When you see the term giclée used by a print artist, it usually means a high-resolution print of very high quality. 

Giclée originated with an inkjet printer called IRIS, a high quality prepress proofing printer that was indeed an inkjet (this foils the idea that inkjets are always cheap). It was used to create sophisticated prints and reproductions of 2D art. Another great thing about giclée is that, opposed to the four-color offset lithography printing process, prints can be made one at a time instead of big batches, giving the artist more control over the production process. They also maintain the color longer than in litho prints.

While some artists balk at the term, it is becoming more and more accepted in the industry. We definitely embrace it here. Our giclée prints are made with an HP z3200 ink jet plotter.

For further reading, the article What's In a Name: The True Story of "Giclée" has additional insight.

Thus ends your artmaking history lesson for the day!

November 18, 2013 by Meg Cotner