In the world of art reproduction, the two terms often used are “Fine Art Printing”and “Giclee Printing”. In this article, we will look into what these terms mean and how to choose the best printing technique for your artwork.

Defining Fine Art Printing.

Before we look at Fine Art Printing, it is important to note that ‘Fine Art Printing” is very different from “Art Printing”. Art Printing is generally a more mass-produced copy of an original artwork. It is usually printed on limited matt or gloss paper types via digital technologies and may be printed with a white border. Art Printing can occur without any involvement with the Artist themselves. This is generally an art replication or copy.  

Fine Art Prints, historically, were made using woodblocks, etching and other techniques when Artists wanted replications to share or sell their original artwork. In the process of converting their work to a woodblock or other printing method, the print itself took on subtle but unique characteristics, making it an ‘original print’.  Now days, the most common way of producing Fine Art Prints is via specialised inkjet printers (Giclee) where the artists original work is taken from a digital file and converting to paper.  Fine Art Prints are archival quality and are an artwork in themselves. They are known as reproductions or original fine art prints.

When looking at Fine Art Printing, there are some specific benefits for Artists and Photographers.

The Benefits of Fine Art Printing:

  1. Archival Inks and Materials: Fine Art Printing relies on archival inks and acid-free, high-quality paper or canvas. This ensures the longevity of the print without deterioration or fading over time.
  2. Precision and Detail: This method excels in capturing intricate details and has a wide colour gamut, faithfully reproducing the artist's original vision.
  3. Limited Editions: Fine Art Prints are often produced in limited editions, adding an element of exclusivity and value to each print.
  4. Diverse Surfaces: Fine Art Printing allows for printing on various surfaces, including paper, canvas, and even metal or acrylic, providing artists with versatile options for presentation.

What is Giclee Printing:

Giclee (pronounced zhee-klay) Printing is a specific type of Fine Art Printing that emerged in the late 20th century. The term "giclee" is derived from the French word "gicler," meaning to spray or squirt, highlighting the method's use of fine droplets of ink. Giclee Printing involves spraying microscopic dots of archival-grade inks onto the chosen substrate, typically canvas or fine art paper.

Giclee Printing Characteristics:

  1. Inkjet Technology: Giclee Printing exclusively employs high-resolution inkjet printers, capable of producing prints with exceptional clarity and colour accuracy.
  2. Wide Colour Range: The inkjet technology used in Giclee Printing allows for a broad spectrum of colours, capturing vibrant hues and subtle tones with precision.
  3. Individualised Prints: Giclee Prints are often produced on-demand, allowing for customization in terms of size and substrate to meet the artist's specifications.
  4. Quality Reproduction: Giclee Printing is renowned for its ability to reproduce artworks with remarkable fidelity, closely mirroring the original piece.

So, what is the difference?

While it appears that Fine Art Printing and Giclee Printing are different – they aren’t really. Giclee is a form of Fine Art Printing that is very specifically produced through inkjet, pigment printing. Fine Art Printing and Giclee Printing are terms used, often, interchangeably. If you are looking to have your original artworks reproduced, it is best to talk to your Printer and ask about their printing process. Both Fine Art Printers and Giclee Printers will use archival quality pigmented inks, delivered via inkjet technology, archival quality papers and usually have very specific processes to reproduce your art. So when you are looking for a Printer for reproduction of your original art, Printers may either be called a Fine Art Printer or Giclee Printer (or both).