Giclées, Fine Art Prints, Reproductions, Remarques...

Art Prints explained 
Article 1 - Original Artwork, Giclee, Archival 
by Tracy Meola

Art Originals, Prints, Giclées, Fine Art Prints, Reproductions, Numbered Prints, Signed Prints, Limited Editions, Matted Prints,Remarques, Archival, etc.  What does all this mean???

This is the first of a series of articles that are devoted to the terminology of Artist prints; reproductions or copies of an Artist’s painting or piece of artwork.  As an artist, an image is taken of my painting and then reproduced (printed) on paper or canvas which can then be matted and framed as a piece of home decor.   But it isn't as simple as that, there are a variety of terms used when it comes to "prints" and a wide range of prices.  
These articles were designed to better inform you of how to understand what is being offered or what you may be purchasing.

Let's look at some of these terms, starting with where it all begins...
Original Artwork:
An Original, when it comes to art, is the actual piece of artwork that was done by the artist.  The original is THE painting or THE sculpture, etc. not any reproduction of the artwork.  The original artwork is done by hand by the artist and there is only one.  After that there are reproductions of that piece of artwork. 

Giclée is a fancy word for fine art prints, it is the term that has become popular and is now commonly used. 

Here is how defines the term Giclée:
Giclée is a print-making method using an ink-jet printer for photographic images of paintings to produce high-quality reproductions.   The ink is sprayed on to your choice of media in millions of colors utilizing continuous tone technology, retaining all the fine detail of the original. 
The origin of the word giclée is French for “sprayed ink”. 

Also referred to as a Fine Art Print, when it comes to a giclée, the better the printing process, the more authentic or representative the reproduction will be of the original artwork.  In other words, the term is used widely, meaning, the final result or product is not always the same.  Just because it is called "giclée" doesn't necessarily mean that it is as upscale as the word seems to indicate.  There are “high quality” prints or reproductions and “less quality”.  
A high quality giclée, would start with a high resolution image and then would be printed on acid free, archival quality paper or canvas with archival grade inks.   Archival means the ink and the paper would remain true for years to come.  (With proper care such as being kept out of direct light or framed with UV protection glass etc.)  The inks would become part of the paper with rich full color, and would not drastically fade or disappear over time. It could be put into archives and stored without losing the image, without it turning yellow, or having the paper become brittle and break down.  Therefore, the very best giclée that you can buy will be printed with archival ink, on archival paper. 

For the best possible reproduction of my paintings and archival endurance, my giclées are printed on Epson Ultra-smooth Fine Art Paper.  This paper is an acid free, 100% cotton hot press paper.   It features an ultra-smooth finish which is not only acid, lignin, and chlorine free, but it is also pH buffered with calcium carbonate for a true archival sheet.   The inks saturate the paper giving depth to the print.  Each print is minimally handled and stored in a clear cello bag sleeve for protection. However, my mini prints (5 x 7 and smaller) are not archival.

Giclées are printed from a photographic image, either a photograph taken of the original art or a scan of the original art.  The image is then reproduced on paper that is larger than the area needed for the artwork, leaving a border or margin.  Margin sizes vary per each artist; they can be a ½ inch to 6 inches or larger. 
If the margin is large and not needed it can be trimmed by the framing professional at the time of framing.  
Often artists will have uneven margins because they have an offsize artwork printed on to a standard size paper.  Like a square painting ( image size 8 x 8) printed on to a standard sized paper ( 8 x 10 paper).  This makes it easier for framing with off the shelf standard sized frames.  My husband and I bought a print from an artist on the beach when we were in Italy.  I chose to frame it with a ready-made frame from off the shelf of a store. In the photo you can see how small the print is and how the white margin of the paper it was printed on, shows inside the mat-board.  The artist's "live" signature is on the white margin.  

When I first began having my artwork reproduced as prints, I allowed a half inch margin, but I have learned a lot in the process and now prefer to allow at least 1 inch of margin all around, allowing space for creativity.  :)

Hopefully this article helps to shed some light on what a simple giclée is. 
In the next article we will look into open edition, signed, and limited edition giclées or prints.  


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