By Kim Crowley & Alexis Golini
Giclée printing can be a profitable new source of revenue for those in the graphic arts market. Giclée, derived from the French word which means to spray liquid, is a process that involves the high resolution capture of one-of-a-kind artwork and its archival, museum-quality reproduction. Fine art reproductions are in high-demand due to the convenience, accessibility, and affordability they offer fine artists and enthusiasts.
With the giclée process, high resolution digital scans made with a digital scanning back, flatbed, or drum scanner can be reproduced with eight to 12 color pigment inkjet printers onto a wide variety of large format media such as canvas, watercolor paper, and transparencies. The combination of light-fast ink and fine art media are considered archival, but there are some discrepancies on the amount of time the prints will last. A survey of some leading giclée service providers and ink, media, and hardware manufacturers yields anywhere from an estimated 25 to 35 year lifespan to between 100 and 125 years with controlled light and humidity conditions.
Giclée technology has become tremendously popular among fine artists, allowing digital images to be reproduced to almost any size, and giving the artist the ability to customize prints for a specific on-demand need. Originally developed as a proofing system for lithograph printing presses, it quickly became evident that giclée has several significant benefits over traditional lithography. The giclée process produces brighter, more archival prints with a non-pixilated tone. In addition, users claim that the color gamut and color accuracy for giclées is far beyond that of lithography.
It is clear that printers can benefit from artists’ desire to reproduce and sell artwork. Giclée prints provide a great solution for both the artist and collectors. Artists are given the freedom and cost-savings of being able to output projects on-demand, in less quantity than lithography, with no sacrifice to quality, and pass the rewards on to their audience. As with any digital printing process, there are challenges, but there is a growing customer base eager for giclée services.
Reproductions in the Classroom
Giclée on Campus, a recent exhibition at Endicott College in Beverly, MA, showcases a selection of student artwork that has been captured and transformed into giclée prints. Select students participated in a year-long program through The School of Art and Design and fine art reproduction company Ditto Editions of Marblehead, MA.
Student works began in a variety of forms, from watercolor to collage and photography. The art was captured using high definition, low UV, low heat studio lighting and a digital scanning back from BetterLight. The files were manipulated with Adobe Photoshop, then proofed for color accuracy. An Onyx RIP prepared the files for printing on Epson 9600 or 9800 printers using Epson K3 Ultrachrome inks on a variety of media.
This collaboration marks an important time for the college as well as a multitude of fine artists who are beginning to recognize and explore digital printing technologies. Mark Towner, dean of art and design and associate professor of fine art at Endicott College, tells us that the school currently has eight digital printers and is planning a purchase of an Epson 9800 this year. Perhaps this is the perfect time to investigate and make a financial commitment to providing giclée services in your operation as well.