What is a Giclée Print?

Pronounced zhee -'clay, the term refers to reproductions that are created by high resolution digital equipment (computer-based systems) from original paintings or other two-dimensional works. The term was first coined by fine art printmaker Jack Duganne in the early 1990s, and is based on the French noun for "that which is sprayed by a nozzle" - a simplification of what has become an exacting blend of science and fine art. Originally produced only by Iris printers (something like high-resolution, extra-large format inkjet printers on steroids), other manufacturers soon developed similar digital printmaking machines.

NOTE: My giclées are printed ONLY from my original paintings - I do not produce computer-generated fine art.

Mike Mayone - Middlebury, Vermont

Why are giclées so much more expensive than lithographs?

The technology used to create these prints is very expensive and the output is painfully slow - most giclées are produced one or two at a time. Furthermore, true giclées like those you see here are printed on top-quality, acid-free, archival grade papers or canvases for durability and improved appearance. The inks used are state-of-the-art for accurate color rendition & lightfastness (the ability to better resist fading).

Reproductions produced by lithography are printed on high-speed presses, hundreds at a time with a very high initial investment. Lithographs can't be printed on the heavy watercolor papers, nor canvases, these giclées are, and the inks simply aren't as stable. The artist must care for a large number of prints of each image in inventory. But the cost, once distributed among those many hundreds of prints, ends up being quite reasonable.

In contrast, the giclée process permits the artist to have only a handful produced at a time, with initial set-up costs that, though still considerable, are a fraction of that for offset lithography. The cost per print, however, is many times that of the lithographs. Fortunately with that cost comes the ability for the printmaker to fine tune the color and contrast of the giclée image to better mimic the original in a way that lithography can't quite match. Furthermore, the giclée process also allows the artist to put more of his or her images into print without having to "sell the farm" to afford the up-front costs.

Increasing numbers of fine art galleries are recognizing the value of giclée technology and the beautiful reproductions it yields. With reasonable care, a giclée print should retain its rich colors and wonderful appearance for many generations to come.

PS - Though I use the terms "reproduction" and "print" interchangeably, true prints (such as etching prints and serigraphs - a.k.a. silk screenings) do not have originals. A "print" produced from an original painting, sketch or whatever, is actually a reproduction, regardless of the method used.

Mike Mayone - Middlebury, Vermont