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Giclee or Inkjet? Or, what do you call your fine art prints off an Epson

Joe McInerney , Mar 02, 2006; 11:17 a.m.

I have been asked to display my digital images in a group show. Until now, I have only displayed traditional silver gelatin prints but have been amassing a few portfolios of digital images printed on an Epson 9600 through Imageprint 5.6. Printed onto Somerset Photo Enhanced Velvet. So, what is accepted in terms of do I call the print a Giclee, fine art injket, pigmented inkjet, etc...What are your feelings? One image is grayscale using Imageprint gray profiles. The other two are color images. All using Matte black ink. Thanks.


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Lex Jenkins , Mar 02, 2006; 11:38 a.m.

If you're actually using pigmented inks that's what you should emphasize. You might also emphasize the quality of the paper used. Artists and art buyers who are fairly knowledgeable about the properties of various media will understand that pigmented inks are generally more archival than dyes. These same folks will probably be a bit skeptical of the term "giclee" since it really doesn't mean anything (altho' the connotations in French are amusing).

Ditto attaching the term "fine art" to anything. It's an open invitation to disagreement. I'd rather see the viewer consider something to be fine art than listen to the creator describe something as fine art. It's pretentious and presumptuous and invites others to disagree with one's self assessment.

However, many folks won't know or care. And the world is full of successful self promoters, so maybe there's nothing wrong with describing one's process and materials as "fine art."

Michael D'Avignon , Mar 02, 2006; 11:38 a.m.

Gicl饠is the use of the ink-jet printing process for making fine art large format digital images. The term � from the French verb gicler meaning "to squirt, to spray" � first applied to "Iris prints" created in the early 1990s on the Scitex "Iris Model Four" colour drum piezo-head inkjet proofer, a commercial printer designed to preview what a print will look like before mass production begins.

The term, sometimes anglicized as giclee, is used to describe any high-resolution, large-format ink-jet printer output with fade-resistant dye- or pigment-based inks. It is common for these printers to use between six and twelve colour inks. The use of dye based inks requires special coating to avoid fading.

Though originally intended for proofing, many artists and photographers use ink-jet printers as an alternative to lithography for limited editions or reproductions. The cost of producing limited edition runs is much reduced compared to the alternative.

Gicl饠is pronounced zhee-clay.

Kirk Darling , Mar 02, 2006; 11:48 a.m.

"Pigmented ink on fine art paper" is accurate and the fine art cognoscenti will know what you mean. It's an unwieldy term, though. It would be nice to have a single word that was understood to mean all that, but there really isn't yet.

For my portrait clients, I use the term "giclee" with an explanation of what I mean by it ("pigmented ink on fine art paper") because I have to educate my audience in the difference between their home inkjet printers and what they're getting from me. That's a bit easier if I give them a unique (in their usage) word to attach to the new meaning. My American portrait audience isn't using "giclee" with any other connotation or denotation, so it works for them.

Scott Eaton , Mar 02, 2006; 11:49 a.m.

Avoid the term of Giclee' for one thing, or deal with chuckles from audience members who know what the term means in French slang :-) Seriously, it's an outdated term. I also find terms like 'fine art' too pretentious and high nosed.

This is really not an exact science, but terms like 'ink-jet', 'digital print', 'Epson 9600 print', etc, will all work. Avoid redundancies like 'digital ink-jet print' because you likely won't be making analog ink-jet prints, ok?

I'm seeing more usage of terms like 'Epson 2200 print', 'Epson 9800 print', 'LightJet print', etc., and I'm steering my own display stuff in this direction. But, it's a personal preference.

Saw one guy use the term 'digital laser chromogenic' which was creative at least.

Bruce Levy , Mar 02, 2006; 11:55 a.m.

One local photographer here who uses wide format Epson in b&w terms his "Carbon prints". Technically correct, yet to me a bit misleading. On the other hand within the realm of truth and relativity, I guess you can call it whatever you want as long as you're not pulling terms out of the air based on nothing.

John Kelly , Mar 02, 2006; 12:11 p.m.

"Giclee" is (I think) a licensed marketing label that is mostly used by frame shop galleries to sell their own reproductions (eg of paintings), rarely by photographers. Almost a franchise.

If you use the term and have not explored its implications, you're inadvertantly attaching yourself to something that is IMO a little deceptive.

Brad - , Mar 02, 2006; 12:31 p.m.

** Archival Pigment Print **

Steve Swinehart , Mar 02, 2006; 12:37 p.m.

If you want to follow the print conventions of conservators and museums, you name the process by which the print was made:

Lithograph (self explanatory) Etching (self explanatory) Woodblock print (self explanatory)

While all of these fall under the intaglio process, the word "intaglio" is not specific enough to identify the exact print process.

Likewise, in photography, there are numerous photographic print processes which is why you see:

Platinum print Silver gelatin print Chromogenic print Dye destruction print

Following standard print process naming conventions - a print from an Epson 9600 would be:

Pigment inkjet print

A print from a Hewlett Packard DJ130 would be:

Dye inkjet print

This tells the buyer the exact ink material (pigment or dye) and the printing process (inkjet).

The word "giclee" was made up by Jack Duganne at Nash Editions for a show they were printing for the artist Diane Bartz. He named it "giclee" to stay away from words like "computer," and "digital" in the show announcements.

This is thoroughly documented, and the story can be found in Harald Johnson's book, "Mastering Digital Printing, Second Edition," in a sidebar in Chapter 1, entitled, "What's in a Name: The Story of Giclee."

Make it simple, call a print exactly what it is: "pigment inkjet print."

Brad - , Mar 02, 2006; 12:39 p.m.

And then on the back of the framed print, I use a 4 x 2 1/4 label attached to the dust cover.

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