Giclee (or Giclée) print is a phrase coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers.
The name originally applied to fine art prints created on Iris printers in a process invented in the late 1980s but has since come to mean any high-quality inkjet print where the papers and inks used are the highest quality available with existing technology.
In an age where almost anyone can produce a digital inkjet print, the term is used to distinguish the best quality inkjet prints from the huge number of inkjet prints made using poor quality inks and papers, many of which fade in a remarkably short period of time.
A Giclee print must be an archival print meeting the lightfastness and longevity standards outlined on the Fine Art Trade Guilds website.
Giclee prints are usually printed on large format digital printing equipment in high resolution though a large format printer is not essential as it is the use of archival inks and papers or canvas that is essential for a print to be a Giclee print.
Giclee prints are normally associated with high quality reproductions of existing art works produced through other means, such as watercolours or oil paintings.
The advantage for artists is they can create limited editions prints of their work without needing to commit to printing the entire edition at any one time. However, Giclee prints are not limited to reproductions of other art works as photographers can produce fine art editions of their digital images and many artists now create digital art using various software programs.
The word Giclee is derived from the French word “Giclée” which means to spray a liquid. This is exactly what inkjet printing involve as the printers spay ink on to various substrates such as paper or canvas.