Giclee Prints: what's what?
ABOUT GICLEE PRINTING:
Differences in printing techniques: Technology changes everything, right? The art world is no different. 100 years ago a print run (primarily etching, but also lithography or woodcut) was ultimately limited by the number of prints that could be made before the printing plate degrades. Artists could print a run and determine the size of the (limited) edition based on 1. print quality degradation or 2. keeping the edition small as a means of increasing the value of the individual print. The printmaking practice is to “strike” or destroy the plate, stone or block once the edition has been completed so that the edition size is guaranteed limited.
With the advancement of digital image capture and Giclee printing (coined in 1991) it became possible for artists to create high quality, crisp, on-demand, reproductions of original works of art on a wide variety of substrates and sizes without restrictions of degradation to determine edition size.
Advantages: Giclee printing offers incredibly high degrees of fidelity and richness of color when compared to other 'traditional' printing methods and because no screen or other mechanical device is used, there is no visible dot pattern. The expertise that is employed involves the careful monitoring of the color system through the use of color profiling techniques.
Archived files will not deteriorate in quality as negatives and film inherently do. Another tremendous advantage of Giclee printing is that digital images can be reproduced to almost any size and onto various media. Archival, fine art printers use processes that use fade resistant, pigment based, archival inks and a variety archival substrates.
For many professional artists and galleries giclee prints represent an affordable way of reaching a wider public, taking a step toward democratizing the art market.
The Quality : “The quality of the Giclee print rivals traditional silver-halide and gelatin printing processes and is commonly found in museums, art galleries, and photographic galleries.” - Colin Bailey
Disadvantages: The accessibility of giclee printing and the proliferation of giclee prints has led to a certain amount of confusion among the public and suspicion from traditional artists, galleries and the art establishment. What determines the quality (and ultimately the value) of an image is as dependent on its context and history as it is on the finished image itself.
The on-demand aspect of giclee printing allows for truly open-ended editions. Where as even modern four color offset lithographic presses have the disadvantage of having to set up and run an entire edition at once but usually that mandates a clear edition size.