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"Technique changes but art remains the same" - Claude Monet

Monet's observation is especially true in todays world where art and technology meet. The artistic process continues with the development of inkjet printing.

Inkjet printing is also commonly called Giclee printing. The word giclee (Zhee-Clay) is a French word, in this case meaning something like tiny spray of ink". Giclee is an advanced state of the art technology that permits the creation of exceptionally high quality prints that closely replicate an original painting in most aspects. It is unable to add pallet knife depth, but colors, hues, contrast levels, and the ambience of mood can match extremely closely. The word has been adopted in the art world to define a new type of artist's print.

The first machine used to make inkjet prints was an Iris brand printer. They trademarked the word Giclee as one of their model printers. However the word has since become commonly used in the art community to refer to inkjet printers at large. The Iris Giclee machine made its first appearance in the mid 80s and it was first sold as a proofing system into the offset print market. Shortly after it was embraced by many named artists such as David Hockney, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jamie Wyeth who saw the potential of making short run large reproductions to originals. Museums have also realized the enormous potential of inkjet machines and many have made giclee editions a permanent part of their collections. Several of these museums include:

  • The Metropolitan Museum (New York)
  • The British Museum (London, England)
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Museum of Art (San Francisco)
  • Laguna Museum of Art
  • Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles)
  • National Museum of Art
  • Acadian Museum (New Brunswick, Canada)

What these notable galleries and artists value in an inkjet print is the ability to produce a high quality reproduction that truly captures the artist's original statement. The phenomenal ability of an inkjet to accurately represent the original is due to the quality of inks, high resolution, and quality of papers and canvas. Inkjet prints have the ability to capture minute nuances in the original painting where other processes fall short. The highlights are brighter, contrasts are better controlled, and the colors are more exacting compared to other reproduction processes.

Copies can be made to have the same look and feel as the original. The concept of giclee (computer controlled ink squirting) gives the impression of simplicity and ease. However, the process follows the same stages as traditional offset printing and the methods are extremely complex and time consuming.

It is interesting to note that many artists and gallery owners have been particularly concerned about longevity for watercolor reproduction, when many watercolor dyes are dye based and have very short longevity. Many original watercolors are not expected to last over 30 years, which is why oil paintings are so much more valued as an investment as well as in their purchase value. Inkjet prints using pigmented inks have the life expectancy to last over 100 years in indoors. The Iris printer that was responsible for the term giclee has meet keen competition. We have chosen to use a Roland printer because it produces a greater end results because of using more inks as well as pigmented inks. The ink longetivity is therefore greater with the newer technology than with the Iris Giclee machine. The word giclee seems to have caught on with the art community to have a broader meaning.

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