Frequently Asked Questions - F.A.Qs
What is a Giclée Print?
Giclee printing (pronounced zhee-clay) is a method of printing to create high quality prints. Originating from the French term, “la giclée,” it means, “that which is sprayed or squirted.” Giclee printing began in the 1980s, when high-resolution digital scans were used in conjunction with archival quality inks. In 1991, printmaker Jack Duganne coined the term for fine digital prints that are made on inkjet printers. Giclee printing is a type of inkjet printing, but not all inkjet prints are giclee prints. The intention of giclee printing is to produce a product at a higher quality and with a longer lifespan than a standard desktop inkjet printer.
Originally, the word, “giclee” was used to describe digital reproductions of conventional artworks (painting or drawing) or photographs. Today, however, it is generally accepted that a giclee print can be entirely created in a digital workflow on a modern computer application, like Illustrator or Creative Cloud editions of Adobe Photoshop. There are those who would argue that applying the term “giclee printing” to a work is done with the sole intention of charging a higher price; however, for a work to be truly giclee, there are three basic requirements that must be met. What makes a giclee print is the combination of high resolution, paper choice, pigment-based inks and inkjet printer.
#1 Document Resolution
For an image to be printed as a giclee, it must be created at a resolution of no less than 300 dots per inch (DPI). Regarding a photo or a conventional artwork reproduction, the camera or scanner used to capture the image or scan the artwork must be able to do so at 300 DPI. When you set up a file for a giclee print, make sure that it is set at at least 300 DPI. This will ensure that the final print has the sharpest detail and lacks any of the fragmentation that can occur with images of lower resolution.
#2 Choice of Paper
For a giclee print, the choice of paper is crucial: the paper or substrate used to print the final piece must be of archival quality. A professional series of paper will typically say if it is archival quality on the box. It will say if it is acid free and whether it consists of a 100% cotton or rag base. These types of papers are the best for longevity & color reproduction, and can be found at a variety of different sellers. Some common examples are Epson and its Signature Worthy Series, and Moab with its Somerset and other professional lines.
#3 Ink & Printer
The biggest difference between a standard inkjet print and a giclee print is that giclees are printed using pigment-based inks rather than dye-based inks that are found in lower-cost inkjets. Pigment-based inks have a longer lifespan: they can last anywhere from 100 - 200 years without significant fading. The type of printer used for giclee printing is usually a larger format model that specifically uses pigment-based inks and can hold 8 - 12 color ink cartridges. Generally, the more inks that are used, the more sophisticated the color range will be on final output. Ink names like UltraChrome K3 from Epson and LUCIA from Canon are two of the wider known pigment-based inks from the major printing manufacturers.
What is a Limited Edition?
Limited edition prints, also known as LE’s, have been standard in printmaking since the nineteenth century. Today limited editions can be found in as many as two or 1000. For the purpose of this post we’ll be speaking with reference to limited edition archival inkjet prints—which are more commonly below 25o per edition. Given today’s art market, smaller editions are more common, as it is assumed the lower the number in the edition, the more valuable and collectible the limited editions are likely to be. LE’s should to be distinguished from the original, they should be carefully produced directly from the original work and printed under the artist’s supervision. This is a distinction needed to separate them from mass produced offset prints, giclée's and canvas transfers (which are made from offset paper prints). A limited edition is normally hand signed and numbered by the artist e.g. 16/100. With exception that the artist is deceased or lives a great distance from the printmaker. In this case, the LE often includes a Certificate of Authenticity, signed by the artist, their estate, and/or the Master Printmaker.
How many prints will be in the Edition?
The artist decides on the size of the edition and determines how many prints can be made; there’s no standard amount. As few as 1 or 3, or as many as 1000 or more. Reflect on how the volume will affect the sales of the original works and consider that the smaller the edition, the higher price per print.
How is a Printmaker chosen?
Franklin Westwood Gallery only uses reputable printmakers to produce your editions. Building a relationship with a printmaker is our long term goal. We don’t let price determine your choice of printmaker. It is also not about who has the latest or greatest equipment. We all know that it is the artist behind the camera, who makes the art—not the model of the camera. Saying that, good quality, reliable equipment is a must for any printmaking studio. But most importantly, the technical talent of the printmaker is critical to the success of your Edition.
What is an Artist’s Proof?
Once a printmaker has been selected, the artwork is scanned (in the case of film) or digitally photographed (for painted artworks). In the case of digitally created artwork, we supply the printer with a high-resolution file (usually 300dpi at the intended print size).
The Next Step
Once the Artist’s Proof is approved, a Production File is created for the Edition. This file has locked-in data pertaining to the color and density adjustments made during the proofing process, it sets the print size and defines the border – the amount of white space – around the image. The Production File may also be tagged with additional information such as type of paper used and any special finishing options.
Who keeps track of the edition—monitoring print sales?
As prints are called off (sold) against the Edition, it is Franklin Westwood Gallery's responsibility to log print sales and monitor the balance of the Edition still available. We keep track of each print number (e.g. “6 of 50″) as it is sold, and ideally the buyer’s details. In some cases, when an Edition is sold out the Production File and all proofing files for that print are destroyed to ensure the integrity of the Edition.