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Giclee Printing: The High-Quality Option for Your Art Prints

These days, it’s anything but uncommon for artists to sell reproduction prints as a core part of their business. In days gone by, the general standard for the industry was to create a piece of original art, sell it for whatever price you could get for it and get started on something else. The result of which being a single sale and only one buyer having the opportunity to purchase and enjoy your work.

What makes the difference with reproduction prints is the fact that you can technically print as many as you like. Not that this is the strategy adopted by most artists – limited runs tend to be the order of the day for most. Along with distributing your work to a much wider audience, reproduction prints also mean being able to hang on to the original.

So if one of your proudest works really does become an eight-figure masterpiece in years to come, you won’t have to live with the regret of selling it for next to nothing!

Nevertheless, if you want the quality of your work to shine in all its glory, you need to think carefully about your preferred printing method. Likewise, you can’t expect those who take art seriously to purchase your prints if they’re not genuinely flawless in quality.

There are countless different printing methods to choose from, though comparatively few make the grade.


Types of Prints

By definition, ‘printing’ can refer to pretty much any process whatsoever, whereby a reproduction of an original image or artwork is created. From screen-printing to simple DIY desktop printing to large-scale newspaper and magazine printing machinery, it’s largely bracketed under the same header.

Nevertheless, there’s one unique approach to printing that tends to be favoured by those looking to maximise the appeal and quality of their fine art prints.  Comprehensively capable and surprisingly versatile, giclee printing can be used to reproduce many different types of art.

In case you wondered, giclee printing takes its name from the French meaning “to spray”, which roughly describes how the ink is transferred to the respective printing surface. In essence, giclee printers are simply large-format inkjet printers, with the capacity to produce considerably more accurate and finely detailed results than more conventional inkjet printers.

So while the two may share many similarities, there’s a marked difference between the conventional inkjet printer and giclee printing.  There are four main elements that determine what type of printing you’re looking at – printer type, surface to be printed on, ink and resolution.


What Defines Giclee Printing?

In order to produce such exceptional quality results, the original image itself needs to be captured using a particularly high-resolution scanner or camera. In most instances, digital photographs are stored with a resolution of 72 dots per inch (DPI). Good enough for most everyday purposes, but in order to produce an immaculate fine art print, this resolution needs to be increased to a minimum of 300 DPI – more than four times the normal resolution. The more dots of colour you’re able to print per inch, the higher the quality and finer the detail of the final result.

The prints themselves typically use pigment-based inks instead of dye-based inks, often holding a dozen ink cartridges to produce the widest variety of colours with incredible accuracy. In addition, giclee printers tend to be significantly larger than conventional printers, in order to produce larger and more complex prints as faithfully as possible.


Limited Edition vs. Open Edition

Open edition giclee printing refers to when an artist is prepared to sell any given reproduction print in unlimited numbers. While this can certainly increase sales volumes and present the art in question to the largest possible audience, it can also have a marked impact on desirability. By contrast, limited edition prints typically fetch much higher prices, though are available exclusively to a much smaller contingency of buyers.


Choosing a Giclee Printing Service

Generally accepted as the gold standard for creating quality reproduction prints, giclee printing services are widely available from printing specialists across the country. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that every giclee printing firm you come across is delivering the same high-quality results. Particularly in terms of consistency when placing orders for extensive runs, it’s important to ensure that the service provider you work with is up to the challenge.


Be sure to carry out at least a little rudimentary research, taking recommendations and suggestions from other artists and past customers. Be sure to ask the service provider as many questions as necessary, perhaps regarding their experience, expertise and the type of equipment they use. If necessary, you can also request to examine samples of their work, in order to see how they perform when put to the test.