The Giclee Story

What is a Giclee?

The word giclee comes from the French which is translated as to squirt or to spray, in this application to squirt or spray onto paper or canvas.   Giclee’s are the best type of inkjet printing available, the best quality.  Giclee’s are distinguished from other types of inkjet printing by three important factors.

  • It is printed on a large format professional grade printer
  • It is printed with pigments as opposed to dyes
  • It is printed on an archival substrate

There are also four primary features that distinguish a giclee print from other lower quality inkjet prints

  • Color
  • Resolution
  • Substrate on which it is printed
  • Longevity

First color, the primary advantage when it comes to color is the number of colors used.  My giclee prints use Canon Lucia Inks.  Canon Lucia inks are pigment based with UV inhibitors. They are the most archival in the printing industry.  With a 12 ink color delivery system, your giclee print has incredible depth of color and accuracy.  Also, the way the color is applied is a tremendous advantage in giclee printing. Pigments are sprayed onto paper or canvas with tiny nozzles, giving incredible detail and gradation to the print. 

Next, resolution is measured by dots (pixels) per square inch (ppi), 300ppi or above is optimum for a giclee print.  A regular printer cannot do what a giclee professional grade printer does due to the nozzle quality.  The nozzles of the printer are about one millionth the  thickness of a strand of hair.  So the resolution is very fine for a giclee print, lots of detail. 

Of course, the substrate on which a giclee is printed is apparent when you receive your print.  Large format professional grade giclee printers can print on a variety of media.  The paper is heavier and of much higher quality for a giclee print.  The canvas giclee print is also of a high grade, professional quality.  If you decide on canvas or paper to have your giclee printed both are archival and of conservation grade.  

When you are thinking of investing in a giclee print, longevity is a factor for most.  As above, the images are printed on archival grade mediums.  Canon Lucia inks are microencapsulated pigment inks that have shown, in accelerated age testing and with proper care, to not degrade for over 100 years.  This is a museum quality print.  If you are not able to purchase an original piece a giclee print is a good investment in retaining its value over time. 


In summation, a giclee print offers a wider range of colors, superior resolution, an archival substrate and longevity.   All of which contribute to an archival and conservation grade art print.  I highly recommend giclee printing; these reproductions are wonderful lifetime pieces.