Sunday, April 12, 2015

FAQ: What is a Giclée Print?

The world of art reproductions has change greatly over the past couple decades, thanks to the invention of the digital printing press and inkjet printers. Once there was a day when doing reproductions of art work was an extremely expensive undertaking, so very few artists did it on their own. These days, because of this new technology and the subsequent price adjustment, most artists will have reproductions made at some point in their career.
My "Red Flame" painting is now available as a
giclée print in a small 8x10" size, as well
as a larger 16x20"

The most common form of art reproduction is called the Giclée print (pronounced zhee-klay). These are printed on large format inkjet printers that have the ability to print very high-resolution on archival paper and canvas using fade-resistant, pigment based inks. The original piece is photographed or scanned at the highest possible resolution, colour corrected to ensure as accurate as possible reproduction, and printed out on a variety of surfaces. I use a heavy, acid-free watercolour paper for my prints, but I have photographer friends who have printed on aluminium and wood panels, along with paper and canvas. For the fine art photographer and digital artists, these printers have opened up a whole new world... and what they are doing with it is really inspiring.

One of the best things this type of technology brings is the ability for artists to follow a just-in-time business model. Instead of having to do a run of 100 prints, you can print however many you need. If you only need one, no problem. Once you have the colour corrected file, reprints are a snap. There's no need to find a spot to store a box of prints, no worries that they might not sell, no enormous initial outlay of cash. It really is a wonderful thing.

For the novice fine art collector, Giclée prints have opened up a new source of wonderful art. Many artists who would at one time only display and sell originals will now dabble in the print market. My own original paintings may be priced out of reach for some young, would-be collector, but a $50 print? Well, that's a lot more affordable. And the price of shipping a print on paper to another part of the world is a whole lot less than packing and shipping a painting on canvas.

Limited Edition Vs. Open Edition Prints
My entire Legends series will be available as
Limited edition prints through Global
Vernissage.

What's the difference? Well, a Limited Edition print is one where the artist has decided that they will only print a certain number of copies, and when it's done, that's that. They will never be printed again.  In the old days the plate was destroyed, these days I think the file is deleted or drastically altered. This increases the value of each print, as there will only be so many of them in existence, and as result, the price goes up. Open edition prints have no set final number... there might be 20, there might be 2000. When the artist runs out, they will usually have more printed.

If you are in the market for a limited edition, the print will be signed by the artist, and there will be a number somewhere, usually on the bottom left border, just outside the image area. The number will be a fraction, the top number being the print number, the denominator is the number of prints in the edition. So, for example, if your print says 22/100, yours is print number 22 of an edition of 100 copies. Another interesting tidbit... these prints are signed in pencil, not pen. The idea is that the pencil will cause an indent in the paper, making them difficult to erase or change.

How to Care for a Fine Art Print

So, you've got this beautiful print... now what? Well, that depends. The prints themselves are archival, so they are pretty easy to care for. Prints on paper should be framed under glass. Canvas prints are coated with a sealant, so they can simply be hung on a wall as is. But not in direct sunlight; the inks are not a fugitive as traditional printing inks, but they will fade if they spend years in the sun. As with original work, don't use a chemical cleaning product on your print. You might end up with a mess on your hands. Dusting with a soft cloth is all that's necessary.

So, there you go. Even if you are on a budget, lovely art can be a part of your life. Many artists produce other products with their images. These days there doesn't seem to be a limit on what can be done. High quality pillows, phone cases, laptop sleeves... surf around a bit and take a look. Technology really is pretty incredible.