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The Giclee’ Printing Process


The Giclee’ (zsee-clay) printing process has enhanced the lives and business of artists allowing them to reproduce their paintings to such a high degree of accuracy, it can be hard to know which is the original, or sometimes the print comes out better than anticipated.

To create a print from an original, the painting is scanned at a high resolution of at least 1200 dpi. This allows a printing to be larger without degradation. Once scanned, the first printing or proof is created for color comparisons against the original.  Adjustments are made as necessary and a second proof is printed. The process is repeated until the artist is satisfied, even though the print is never an exact duplicate of the original, he can then order as many or as few prints as he would like. Every print will be identical to the previous one. The digital age also allows the printed image to be made in different sizes with no effort.  If a “limited edition” is determined, then once the last print is run, usually the file is deleted.

The process can also be beneficial to a customer that orders a commission.  They can have prints made very easily to give as gifts or have an extra image in the office for instance. It bears mentioning here that the artist still retains all exclusive rights to the reproduction of the painting even when the painting has been requested by a private individual. Prints must still be purchased from the artist at the price he/she sets. The customer can not prevent the artist from profiting on prints of the artwork. To do so, the artist’s rights to reproduction can be purchased, whereby taking ownership of all rights exclusively. This fee can be high. All these details should be spelled out in an “art for hire” contract, which ours does.

The printers that do our work hold eight pigmented inks cartridges about the size of a VHS tape (remember those?) Pigmented inks have been developed for longevity and color stability to ensure image life of 100+ years under normal lighting conditions. Ink manufacturers  are constantly working to increase the 100+ years barrier.  It is still recommended that all works on paper, original or printed, be framed with matting and UV absorbant glass.

To create a print on another substrate other than paper, it’s as simple as changing the roll in the printer. Once finished, the print is stretched around “bars”, ready for a frame. Applying a coat of UV varnish will protect the image as does UV glass for paper. An option to consider is gallery wrapped canvas prints. It’s a frameless approach to presenting and displaying art. (see the Canvas Prints gallery for more information and examples)

The Giclee print is an affordable solution for the buyer that can’t take an original home, but with proper care the image can be enjoyed for many years. Always consult with the artist about the print and how to best handle it’s mounting and framing if not already done.

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