Example of a photo on canvas or "Giclee" printed from a jpeg file. Photo by Damien Tierney Photography.

Have you heard or seen the word “Giclée” bandied around in the photo printing and art world and wondered what the term actually means? If you are an artist or photographer you are no doubt fully aware of the meaning and you understand the printing jargon. However, for the rest of us who are simply trying to tread water in this techno/digital age, here is a simple explanation.

Well according to Wikipedia the word "giclée" is derived from the French language word "le gicleur" meaning "nozzle", or more specifically "gicler" meaning "to squirt, spurt, or spray”. Pronounced ‘zhee-clay’, it is actually an invented term used in today’s speech for the process of making fine art or photo reproductions from a digital medium using ink-jet printing technology.

Using ink-jet technology for print making results in extraordinarily high quality photographic images of paintings, photos or digital art. The reproductions retain all the fine detail of the original photo or artwork, either as a print on canvas or paper. In fact, a wide variety of media can be used for the giclée print. As mentioned, the art or photo can be reproduced onto canvas or photo paper, either matte or gloss (a great range is available) however, also on watercolour fine art paper and even vinyl.

The giclée technology has tremendous advantages. As well as the obvious quality, it means that an artist or photographer no longer needs to outlay large sums of money to have their limited addition images pre-printed.  Now the photos or artworks can be reproduced according to the market demand.

Another advantage is that there is no risk of deterioration of reprints while they are ‘on the shelf’ waiting to be sold. The digital storage of the image is safe (we always recommend a back up copy) and will not deteriorate, can be printed on to canvas or paper as needed and the resulting reproduction is always of superb quality.

It goes without saying that galleries, museums and professional photographers are making wide use of giclée printing. It is reported that reproductions of famous New York photographer, Annie Leibowitch can go for over $10,000 USD.

The wonderful thing is that this extraordinary printing method is available to us all, happy snappers and professionals alike, since we can have our art or photos taken on film scanned into a digital format and reproduced or  so easily print our digital photos using the giclée method  to produce big canvas or photo prints.