There are some printmakers who will tell you that giclee's should not be considered a fine art process, and they may be right. At its simplest, a giclee print involves taking a digital file and printing it out with an ink-jet printer. Now with this definition one could argue that the pictures I used to print out off the internet of Zac Hanson for my "HANSON RULES" scrapbook were essentially giclee's. I, however, would like to offer a more specific definition. A giclee print is a fine art print from a digital source that is printed from an ink-jet printer using archival inks (ink that wont fade over time) and is printed on a suitable medium such as fine paper or canvas.
A standard ink-jet has one cartridge with 4 inks. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Believe it or not, the combinations of these four colors brings to life practically all of the printed material you see. My thesis show was a collection of giclee prints. My wallpaper I created and every one of the interchangeable design elements were printed from a massive Epson printer that had 8 separate archival ink cartridges that were suitably blended to create ever color of the rainbow.
Now if you are not impressed with this behemoth of a machine, let me give you an idea of scale for this image printed: that paper is over three feet wide and each panel printed was eleven feet tall.
I really enjoyed working in this capacity. I could take all the endless color options from the computer and transpose them perfectly onto fine cotton paper. There is substance to these prints. Alternatively for artists who do a limited run of a physical print (like a woodblock or one of Ross' insulation foam prints), they can scan or photograph their original image and print copies of their work. These are less laborious and demand less manpower to produce so they can be sold at a much lower price point. They can also be scaled down digitally to accommodate smaller spaces. But my favorite perk of the giclee print is that it give graphic artists, like myself, a little bit of clout in the gallery. By being able to produce work digitally (which can involve as much drawing as a litho plate) and print it out on something nicer than computer paper.
There is undeniable talent in graphic artists. They are receiving more gallery attention abroad currently than they are in America. But I think in years to come the price point, and the availability will make them more and more attractive to American buyers. The print above is by American artist and animator Kristen Ulve. I looooove her work. On canvas, measuring 38" x 57" her print "Geisha" will set you back $250 plus shipping. This is way less expensive than the original painting which is $3,200.
Now you know.