The Giclee Process

Defining Giclee
The definition of giclee has varied widely since its inception in the late 1980s. At Archival Arts, a giclee print is not simply an inkjet print. Giclee is a specific process for creating high-quality prints of artwork. We use the term “giclee” specifically for the process of reproducing a physical work of art, with museum quality, on archival media. We do not consider prints derived from a digital photograph or digital art to be giclee. We would call these “archival pigment prints” or simply digital prints.

Giclee requires a capture of the original art on a professional quality camera or scanner. The capture is the most important part of the process and must be performed with extremely high resolution to ensure the best quality print.

Unfortunately, smart phones, consumer grade scanners, point and shoot cameras, and even most professional SLR cameras do not render the kind of quality needed to create a museum quality print. The best giclee studios employ cameras that capture 50 to 100 megapixels of information in one shot. It is very important that the capture system has the best quality lens to ensure that every brush stroke translates to the final print in razor-sharp detail. Bright, soft, color-balanced lighting is also critical to reproducing colors as close to the original as possible.

Color Correction
Even the best digital capture systems tend to either exaggerate or desaturate colors. An expert eye is needed to make corrections to the digital file so every print is as close to the original as possible, without spending hours of trial and error to achieve accuracy. Since giclee prints are created with a limited number of inks, it is not possible to reproduce the full gamut of paint colors. For this reason we sometimes ask for a bit of flexibility on the final color.

Giclee prints are not valid without the approval of the artist. All captures are proofed at 8×10 size on the media of your choice. Proof prints are meant for color approval. Usually, by the time you pick up your original and see your proof, we have corrected and printed at least two or three proofs to get the color as close to your original as possible. Artists are given the final approved proof for their records. We do not recommend selling proofs, as this is your copy to ensure that your prints match, order after order. Once the proofs are approved, we keep your files on our server for ordering convenience and can also provide you with your files on a USB drive. You can provide us with a drive, or you can obtain one from us.

When we have an approved proof, you have the choice of printing your giclee prints on textured watercolor paper, smooth watercolor paper, or canvas media. These medias are considered archival and have been tested with our archival inks to last a lifetime when displayed in a climate-controlled room with no direct sunlight. Watercolor prints do not need to be treated but are recommended to be matted and framed under glass with UV protection. Canvas prints sprayed with our varnish are UV protected and can be displayed without glass, but we do recommend framing to protect the edges from chipping. Gallery-wrapped canvases may need to be touched up on the edges with archival ink on occasion.

Certificate of Authenticity
Giclee prints captured from an original on our Phase One system and printed on archival media come with a certificate of authenticity. Certificates detail the camera used to capture the file, the inks and media used to create the prints, and information related to the original and the print. (The artist fills in specific info about the print and original.) Certificates are not provided for prints under 8.5×11.

Now your prints are giclee!

Have more questions about giclee? Visit our FAQ page!