is a Digital / Giclée Print?
A fine art print reproduction
in which a digital file of an image is printed by a special
ink-jet printer that sprays ink directly onto the surface
of a substrate, is sometimes called “Giclée”
or “Iris” print. Such a digital print can match
colors within millions of possible hues. The term “Giclée”
is tossed around rather freely when it comes to Digital Fine
Art Prints. Originally, Giclée applied to output on
an Iris inkjet printer, specifically the Iris 3024, 3047,
or the 3047G (renamed the Iris GPRINT in 1998). But today
in the art community worldwide, Giclée refers to Digital
Fine Art Prints made on any high-quality inkjet printer.
the Digital Prints last?
A big question with digital printing is longevity. Will the
Giclée hanging on a gallery wall today look the same
in your office or home a decade or two from now?
Henry Wilhelm has been
watching stuff fade since 1976. As director of research for
Wilhelm Imaging Research, an organization in Grinnell, Iowa,
USA, that tests and researches colorfastness and staining
of digital output and photographic print materials, it's his
business to evaluate how artwork holds up over time. Back
in the 1970s, he studied photographs to determine their longevity.
Now he watches inkjet printouts, too. Wilhelm tests for fading
by subjecting artwork to high-intensity light while maintaining
normal humidity and temperature levels. "It took a long
time even with color photography," he explains, "to
gain a certain level of image permanence." He's found
that when printed with special inks on archival papers, Iris
prints should last for many decades to come.
The most important
fact to remember is that all color fades. As far as Giclée
prints are concerned, some original watercolors and most lithographs
will fade faster than a well-made Giclée. Unlike lithographs
and serigraphs, Giclées have undergone extensive, third-party
fade-testing. While the predicted display life depends on
many variables, under typical home or office lighting, and
depending on the papers used, Giclées made with wide-gamut
pigmented inks are estimated to last over 130 years without
is ink-jet printing, the same process used by the ink-jet
printer hooked up to your computer right now. Does that mean
that a Giclée print is a bad print? Not necessarily.
Fine art lithography uses essentially the same process as
the cheapest mass production printing machines, and fine art
etchings and engravings are made by a process which was used
until very recently for the cheapest book illustrations.
for your Giclée Print
We recommend that you treat your Giclée prints the
same as any original watercolor. It should be protected from
water and should not be placed in direct sunlight. Giclées
printed on paper should be frame mounted behind glass. Giclées
printed on canvas are treated with an acrylic varnish to aid
in their protection, however careful treatment is still desirable.