giclée printing of tree painting

What Makes Giclée Printing Different and Better?

Over the past thirty years or so, giclée printing has become the “gold standard” for fine art reproduction. There are three main reasons this method of printing has supplanted all others for making fine art prints. Let’s go through them here. 

What Makes Giclée Printing Different and Better?

Superior Archival Quality

The first and perhaps most important reason is that a giclée print has far superior archival qualities to other forms of printing. Using current technology, a giclée print is projected to last for 200 years without any change in the colors or fading. Both the ink and the substrates used contribute to this extraordinary longevity. 

A giclée print is created using specialized inkjet printers that employ long lasting pigment-based inks. The word giclée is derived from a French verb that means “to spray.” The term was coined to distinguish this technology from home/office inkjet printers that used cheaper dyes that don’t last nearly as long.

What you print on is also important. Giclée printers use specially coated papers and canvas that support the longevity of the inks. At Grand River Giclée we use primarily 100% cotton papers that are naturally acid free. We also avoid papers that have optical brightening agents (OBAs) applied. OBAs make papers appear whiter, but they fade over time, so we don’t consider them archival.

More Faithful Color Reproduction

The second important difference between giclée printing and other methods is the much larger range of colors they can faithfully reproduce. Previously, lithography was the most common method of creating fine art prints. Lithography uses only four colors of ink – cyan, magenta, yellow and black – to create all the colors from an original. Our current printers have twelve ink cartridges including cyan, light cyan, magenta, light magenta, yellow, green, orange, violet, black, grey, and light grey (there’s also a photo black for glossy media). All those colors allow giclée prints to faithfully reproduce a much larger range of subtle colors.

Print on Demand

Finally, the giclée process allows for much smaller print runs than previous methods. Although we do offer discounts for ordering multiple prints, there really is no technical reason why you can’t order just one print. And because the technology is so consistent, two prints produced months or years apart should be virtually identical. This compares to offset lithography where print runs of hundreds were usually required to keep the costs per print reasonable. 

With giclée printing, unless you are stocking up for a show, you can just order prints from us as you receive orders from your customers. In fact, most of our artists have us drop ship their orders directly to their clients! If you have questions about giclée printing, just ask us. We understand how important your artwork is to you, and we want to give you quality prints that will best showcase your talent. 

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