Describing Giclée Prints
Giclée is french for "squirt" or "Spray". Some say in the 16th century it was used to describe female urination. The original use of the word for printing was when the first printer that used tanks rotating around a drum with rag stretched over it actually produced 'prints' of a size no other method at that time could produce. It literally sprayed ink onto the surface. Accuracy of placement was not a feature of those early printers.
Today when used in describing inkjet prints the word Giclée is mostly cosmetic, used by the same sort of people who drink Pina Colada on the beaches of fashionable locations to impress people into believing an inkjet print is somehow of higher quality or will last longer, maybe worth more if it is called a Giclée print.
Its not unlike how use of the word 'font' to describe a typeface has been bastardized. You can thank Bill Gates for the present use of the word. A typeface describes the design of lettering. Bold, Italic and other derivatives are fonts of the typeface. Just as the typesetting craft has been butchered by computers and those seeking to alter correct words of description, so too has art reproduction been butchered by people trying to use fancy sounding French words to describe a plain old inkjet print.
If anyone were to try and pass off one of my limited edition prints as a Giclée print, I'd withdraw it from the auction. They are pigment ink prints. Guaranteed to last a lifetime as in the lifetime of the media they are printed on. Typically 20 years for canvas, 90 years for archival matte, Rag paper, up to 120 years for silver photographic prints (highly dependent of chemicals used) or 200 years as a digital image recorded on a Kodak Gold CD or DVD provided they are stored according to instruction on the certificate of Authenticity supplied with each print. You can buy micro dots and Authenticity certificates from any Authorized Hahnemühle distributor if you print limited edition archival prints on their papers or canvas.
You can find further, accurate information from "The fine Art Trade Guild" in London UK. I remember a group of inkjet printers setting up a Giclée Guild in the USA a few years ago but I can't find them now. They even listed brands of printers that could be described as Giclée printers. Even they forgot to mention the trademark of Giclée, a brand of inkjet printers, no longer exists.
I'd suggest if you want to gain any standing in the reproduction industry, you refrain from trying to claim your Epson inkjet printer is a true "Glicée printer.
Last edited by Alienjones; 12-02-2012 at 10:18 PM.
That's good to know. Maybe I'll look into it down the road, when I have a better handle on what I'm doing.
Originally Posted by Alienjones
Somewhere I read a rule of thumb that 1ml prints about 1 sq ft. Based on that estimate, the ink cost for an 11 x 17 print would average out to about $1.20. If the ink consumption on my 3880 turns out to be something on that order, then I don't mind playing it safe.
Thanks for the information. I'll check out the trade guild for more.
Originally Posted by Alienjones
I'm aware that "Giclée" has degraded into a rather fuzzy marketing term, and see your point about using it imprecisely in professional circles. There seems to be a need for an effective term to communicate that an art print adheres to a certain, recognized quality standard. If "Giclée" is overblown for an Epson print, then "inkjet" may be underselling; you want people to understand that the art print they're going to receive is not going to look like what happened last time they printed a picture off a website.
Be wary of costing your prints like this. The density of ink multiplied by how many colors you are using cannot easily be quantified. I allow a little less than a buck a square foot for archival prints on rag paper. That's for a iPF 8100 Canon 12 color, 44" printer. Maybe multiply that by 3 or 4 for your printer and it would be close. As for the amount of ink consumed? No... Too much trouble to calculate. Every time you switch on your printer an amount of ink is consumed in being sure the nozzles are working.
Originally Posted by Haystack
Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about the whole giclée vs. inkjet business. I've been at this a long time, and as far as I'm concerned, any inkjet print is a giclée print, by definition; and that could be a fine-art print, or it could be a billboard. True, giclée is hype, but it's hype on the same order as "lithograph."
It sounds all toney to say you have a limited-run of quality lithographs for sale, rather than just posters printed on an offset press...but they're the same thing.
Same thing with giclée. A giclée is just an inkjet print. Myself, I've kind of come to disfavor the term more because it does the process something of a disservice to use it. Back when it came into vogue, it mainly did because no one thought of inkjet as a serious printing process.
Nowadays, I don't know of anyone who doesn't. The term inkjet now is perfectly capable of standing on its own.
As far as what you need to learn: There's one key secret to making money in any venue of large-format printing, and that's to print each image you print as well as it can possibly be printed... on the first print.
That means setting up a color workflow that doesn't lose any device capability or image information in each transfer, and having each device in your workflow characterized so that you know that you're getting every bit of its capability on every media, and that you know exactly how it's going to print every print you send before you send it.
Follow those rules, and you'll find material costs are such a minimal part of your overall cost structure that you won't need to worry about using third-party inks and the like.