Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sorry: No Prints


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Giclée (pronounced /ʒiːˈkleɪ/ "zhee-clay" or /dʒiːˈkleɪ, from French [ʒiˈkle]) is a neologism for the process of making fine art prints from a digital source using ink-jet printing. The word "giclée" is derived from the French language word "le gicleur" meaning "nozzle", or more specifically "gicler" meaning "to squirt, spurt, or spray". It was coined in 1991 by Jack Duganne, a printmaker working in the field, to represent any inkjet-based digital print used as fine art. The intent of that name was to distinguish commonly known industrial "Iris proofs" from the type of fine art prints artists were producing on those same types of printers. The name was originally applied to fine art prints created on Iris printers in a process invented in the early 1990s but has since come to mean any high quality ink-jet print and is often used in galleries and print shops to denote such prints.

Giclee is just a fancy word for an ink-jet art print. Just a copy, a reproduction. And I am opposed to the use of the term to "trick" novice art buyers into thinking they are buying something of real value. Because generally they are not. I've never done prints of my work. Although there are a lot of people out there who tell me I should. I think it undervalues the original work an artist puts out. Plus, I want my buyers to know that if they purchase one of my pieces, no one else is going to have that same image hanging in their home.

After college, I bought some prints to decorate my apartment. I sure wish the artists and galleries I bought from had suggested that, rather than purchase a large print, that I might consider a small original. Because now a few of those posters hang in my laundry room and the rest are long gone. And I still don't have enough room to hang all the art I would like!

At art shows, I have seen artists with huge bins of prints. And then I see them spend all this time helping people try to pick which print to buy, all the while ignoring people who are actually looking at the originals. I think it is lost sales. Then I see artists who have been doing prints, coffee mugs, mouse pads, tshirts, etc. for years. Their market has been flooded. Patrons see the artist and exclaim, "Oh, I have a poster of yours!" They are not even considering the acquisition of an original.

Granted, there are people who don't have the money to spend on an original piece. But, I am always happy to work out a payment schedule and I try to offer small pieces so if someone likes my work and can't afford (either monetarily or space-wise) a big piece, they can acquire a smaller one. Or, if necessary, a postcard or business card with an image of my work on it (I do let the purchaser of the original know if I have used the image on one of my marketing items before the sale)--to tide them over until the time is right.

So, I'm going to stick to my principles and not create prints of my work. Maybe this post will help explain why.


  1. I know we have discussed this before. And I really have fully embraced your principle. I do a lot of smaller original pieces that are cheaper than an Amando Pena print.

    And the whole print market has so degenerated. Before everyone had an ink jet printer you had to go out to a professional printer and do a limited run. If you had a run of 150 you numbered each 1/150, 1/150 etc. The value of a print depended on the limit of the run and the number it was in that run. Ergo print 1/50 was a great deal more valuable than 75/100. All prints were signed. And generally all prints were the same size as the original.

    Today there are no limits on print runs. Artist print more on demand. They are often not even signed. And quality frankly sucks is the artist does not take the time to balance is printer.

    With so many artists selling prints it makes it definitely difficult for those sticking by their principles. I applaud you.

  2. Thanks, Jacqui! It does pose an issue when you are at a show and your neighbor has 2 originals in the entire booth, with the rest of the space filled up with framed prints! Such is the nature of the beast!


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