• Rose-Marie Marshall-Jane

Prints: What is Giclée and why you should always go for quality for your prints.

Giclée what?

A few years ago I'd never heard go Giclée. Gi-gi-what? To be honest, I thought it was some fancy French chocolate.

Over the years and way before the start of La Lune Art Studio prints had been made of Yvonne's work but they'd usually need to be done with a large quality to make it worth the while of the printing company, pretty costly considering you may not sell them all. Prints however, are a lot easier to sell because it made the expensive art cheaper to buy for the masses.

I know there are several types of printing for art. Inkjet, home printing, photo printing and Giclée. I've always been told since I first heard of Giclée that this was the best quality you could get. So we've always printed Giclée because we want the best quality products we can get for our clients.

Let's do a break down of each printing type:

1) Home Printing. Okay for digital downloads (which we also sell, find them here) and for quick and easy art and typography that you'll want around your home for a few years. Your home printer will not give you the quality a professional printer can do for your fine art. We sell digital downloads of only our digital art. I wanted to make these pieces of art available for easy downloading and printing for people at home. The price reflects this as you will not be getting a hard copy of a print and instead you'll be receiving a computer file that you can use for personal use, not commercial.

2) Photo printing. These are great for prints and photos that you do not want to sell. That family photo or image of your dog, one of our students recently had a piece of her work printed onto canvas because the original was on paper and she didn't want to get it framed to hang on her wall. This I actually thought was a good idea, perfect for appreciating your work without taking up too much room and without the cost of framing. However, I would not recommend this if you were planning on selling your work. Photo printing by comapnies like Vista are usually for just that: photos.

3) Inkjet. Inkjet is what your home computer is most likely to be, there is also laser printing but we won't go into that here. Inkjet works by recreating an image onto the paper with droplets of ink. It is the most common used printer and a professional printer does a good enough job to sell fine art prints. Are you asking why your home printer won't do the same? Home printers are basically designed for documents and not fine art printing. You should want quality for your work and spending a little extra £ for this should be something you want to invest in.

4) Giclée. Ah, my not so fancy French chocolate printing. I was half right thought, Giclée means 'to spray' in French. There's a couple of debates online that can't decide if Giclée should be spelt with a capital G. Anyway, Giclée (giclée) works by spraying and not dropping pigment based inks onto paper, there is more colour accuracy in this and so is easier to get a much better likeness of your work.

That's the basic breakdown of them all and in the order of poor to best.

There's a few more things you need to consider when printing your fine art.

Here they are:

  • Paper quality

  • Colour fastness

  • Quality of image

Again, many types of finishings you can get with many types of paper. Our usual go-to for paper is simply Natural Soft 315gsm, this is a great quality paper that works exceptionally well for our prints. You can go for much lighter weight paper and the quality of printing will be just the same but on a less heavier paper. The way I see it, the heavier the paper the less likely to wrinkle in the frame. You can also get different types of paper finishes like soft textured, textured, silk, eco, bright white and many others. It all depends on what you want for your print.

Colour fastness is very important for your print. You don't want to spend money on a print that will fade as soon as you get it out. Generally, a good quality print with a good quality fastness will last 99 years in museum conditions. This doesn't mean that you need to shove away your print in the bottom of a drawer and never see it again for 99 years. Instead, frame it in UV protected glass and keep away from direct sunlight, prolonged light, dust and pollution. You do want your print to last, especially if it is limited edition. I have seen prints that have bleached from sunlight and it looks like the death of art.

Colour fastness does tend to not only rely on the conditions in which the print is kept but also the materials used to create the prints. The better the quality the ink and paper the longer the print will last meaning maximum enjoyment of the product.

Quality of image. The resolution, size and format that your print is printed from is important. There's an easy option to get over this. Get your professional printing company to do it for you. Sure, it may cost money but in the end it's a lot easier. They have the skills and knowledge to create a file that looks identical to your work and can also print directly from their files. Different companies may vary but you should be able to ask for and keep the file that they create of your work.

In the end, it all comes down to the quality of print you want for your art. Do you want the best quality for your work or do you want super budget friendly? As artists we should want the best quality. The amount of time and effort we out into creating our work should be reflected in the products that we create. If that means spending money on better quality prints to sell to our clients then that is what we shall do. In the end, it is worth it.

To view a range of our Giclée prints visit our Fine Art Prints page: