Friday, September 23, 2011

Can you say zhee-clay?

We hear word giclee a lot these days. It comes from the French language word "le gicleur" meaning "nozzle", or more specifically "gicler" meaning "to squirt, spurt, or spray.” The term was coined back in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne working at Nash Editions. He wanted a name for the new type of prints they were producing on the IRIS printer, a large format high resolution industrial prepress proofing ink-jet printer adapted for fine art printing. He was specifically looking for a word that would not have the negative connotations of "ink-jet" or "computer generated".

The term “giclĂ©e,” has now come to be associated with prints using fade-resistant, archival inks (pigment based, as well as newer solvent based inks), and archival substrates primarily produced on format printers using the CMYK color process. A wide variety of surface materials are used including various textures and finishes such as matte photo paper, watercolor paper, cotton canvas, or artist textured vinyl.
Artists generally use inkjet printing to make reproductions of their original two-dimensional artwork, photographs or computer-generated art. Professionally-produced inkjet prints are much more expensive on a per-print basis than the traditional four-color offset lithography. But the results are impressive as it is difficult at times to tell the difference between an original work and a giclee.

These large-format inkjet prints can cost more than $50, not including scanning and color correction, versus $5 for a four-color offset litho print of the same image in a run of 1000. Four-color offset lithographic presses have the disadvantage of the full job having to be set up and produced all at once in a mass edition. With inkjet printing the artist does not have to pay for the expensive printing plate setup or the marketing and storage needed for large four-color offset print runs. This allows the artist to print and sell each print individually in accordance with demand, making inkjet printing an economical alternative. Inkjet printing has the added advantage of allowing artists total control of the production of their images, including the colors and the substrates on which they are printed, and it is even feasible for individual artists to own and operate their own printers.

So learn how to say the word. It makes owning artworks, hardly distinguishable from the original, feasible at a much lower price.

(c) 2009 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

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