What is a giclee print?

A lot of art print publishers and distributors (and many of our artists and customers) use the term giclee to describe all [non original] prints not printed off-set (ie for all prints printed on demand using sophisticated digital printers). We are interested in our readers views on the following questions:
  1. Are all digitally produced prints giclee prints?
  2. If not, what is the difference between an "ordinary" inkjet print and a giclee print?
  3. How should artists describe prints that are not printed using off-set photo-lithography so the purchaser knows exactly what they are getting?
Please post a comment below.


  1. Giclee use archival waterbased ink, archive quality media, are usually signed by artist and often are limited edition with a certificate. Non archival printing using an inkjet with solvent based inks on non-archival paper is not a giclee. These non-archival prints shouldn't be described as anything different from an offset long run photo-lithographic prints.

  2. Jack Duganne, a master fine art print maker of Santa Monica, California, coined the term `Giclee (pronounced GEE 'CLAY) in 1991 to describe something new - the making of fine art limited edition prints by digital ink jet printing.

    Giclee prints offer you the very best technology currently available. Original artwork is scanned on a high resolution wide format scanner. The images are then processed through computers and printed by a very fine ink jet printer using pigment based long life inks onto watercolour, acid-free paper. The superiority of the Giclee process ensures that the end product is the closest match to the original work as is technically possible.

    Quote from Art Business Today: "The impact of digital technology on the fine art industry is as important a breakthrough as photography was in the 19th century."

    Answers to:

    Question 1: No
    Question 2: The difference is Giclee Prints are Limited Editions, printed with "pigment based long life inks", on "acid free watercolour paper“ as per the above "extract"
    Question 3: "Digitally printed prints" as opposed to "Offset printed prints"/ Giclee Limited Edition Prints (as described above)

  3. With further research………on the `giclee’ issue…………I am not quite correct……………`giclee’ prints are not necessarily `limited editions’ .

    I `Google’d – giclee – and there was no mention of a `giclee’ being a `limited edition’ but a true `giclee’ uses archival ink and :

    “The paper or canvas that is used is specially prepared to accept this type of printing mechanism and ink-set. Hahnemuhle, St Cuthberts, Epson and Lyson produce tested papers and canvas” …….. (ex Fine Art Guild)

  4. Your all wrong except Jack Duganne did use the word to describe his prints. But there are better words to use for inkjet prints.
    The French word "giclée" is a feminine noun that means a spray or a spurt of liquid. The word was derived from the French verb "gicler" meaning "to squirt".

    The inkjet print industry has taken that word and are really using it incorrectly. I have an Epson 7800 but I don't use that word since in France it also means "an ejaculation by a male"