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The What and the Why of Giclee

Digital Communication
Fine Art Collection

Fine Art Collection

More and more fine artists are marketing high-quality prints of original works, thanks to advancements in the digital realm. If you’ve just started the process of figuring out the best path forward in providing prints of your own, you’ve probably come across the term Giclée.

If you’ve wondered what giclée printing can mean for you in terms of quality, consistency or even just pronunciation, we’re here to help.


First, the easy bit: it’s pronounced “zhee-clay.” Coined in 1991 by a printmaker who wanted a term for the high-quality inkjet prints that recently been adapted for fine art prints, it comes from a French word meaning “nozzle.”

In terms of quality, Giclée indicates an inkjet print made with archival quality inks, which will remain fast over time without washing out like consumer-level prints.

With such a vague term, printers have a bit of leeway with regard to interpretation, so it is helpful to know exactly what Cushing means when we say Giclée.

Simply Put, High Quality:

Giclée Printed Reproduction

Giclée Printed Reproduction

At Cushing, Giclée prints are made on one of our Canon 9100 machines, which are 12-color inkjet printers capable of printing up to 60” wide.

Every effort is made to make sure the conversion is producing accurate color within the color space afforded by 12 different ink colors.

We print to one of six high-quality stocks:

  • Canon Archival Bond Matte
  • Photobase Glossy
  • Photobase Satin
  • German Etching watercolor paper
  • Photo Rag
  • Canvas

I am constantly surprised and delighted at the level of detail in some of these reproductions. We have samples where a watercolor looks just as though it were painted directly to the paper, or where layers of paint from the original work force the viewer to touch the print to make sure it’s not three-dimensional.

Sounds Great, What Now?

To get started with the creation of a Giclée print of your work, you have two basic options:

Bring us a digital file or bring us the original work.

The first option can sometimes yield varying results based on the quality of the photograph or scan being reproduced, while the second choice allows us to scan as high a quality as possible on our Cruse scanner, and work with the final size of the print as our goal.

Advantage: You

Because of how the prints are produced, there are no plates or huge setup costs involved like you would find with a traditional offset litho print. This means you can order just one print or 100. We have one client who is growing her stock by ordering two prints every time she sells one. Because she knows her costs per print, she can set her prices in advance and know she’s going to make a profit.

The digital file, once set up to print as close to perfect as possible on our equipment, will always print well on that same equipment at Cushing. Once you’ve got your disk of our corrected file, you can bring it back again and again without fear of proofing rounds or mismatch to your previous prints.

Cushing is willing to work with you to ensure that your reproductions are as unique and personal as your original works. We work closely with you to make sure that we understand the end goal, and then work to achieve it. If you have a project that doesn’t seem to fall into the basic shapes described above, please give us a call and we’ll help try to sort it out.

Giclée Print Sample

Giclée Print Sample

Next Steps
One client is currently doing experiments where our prints to canvas serve as the underpinning of her new original work, to save her time and effort on her process.

She paints on top of the print, which then gets scanned and reproduced. We are happy to work on and discover new solutions to help fit the needs of our clients.

For artists, it’s a brave new world, bounded only by state-of-the-art technology and the limits of imagination.

If you have questions about the giclée printing services we offer at Cushing, give us a call or use our quote form to inquire about a project.


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