Giclée (pronounced "zhee-clay" from French) is 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". "Iris proofs: 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.
Artists generally use giclée inkjet printing to make reproductions of their original two-dimensional artwork, photographs or computer-generated art. Per print, professionally-produced inkjet prints are much more expensive than the four-color offset lithography process traditionally used for such reproductions of offset litho print of the same image in a run of 1000. He or she can print and sell each print individually in accordance with demand. Inkjet printing has the added advantage of allowing artists total control of the production of their images, including the colors and the substrates on which they are printed.
The word “Giclée,” has come to be associated with prints using fade-resistant, archival inks (pigment based, as well as newer solvent based inks), archival substrates, and the inkjet printers that use them. A wide variety of substrates are available including various textures and finishes such as matte photo paper, watercolor paper, cotton canvas, or artist textured vinyl.
Lithography (from Greek lithos, 'stone', 'to write') is a method for printing using a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface. Invented in 1796 as a low-cost method of publishing theatrical works, lithography can be used to print text or artwork onto paper or another suitable material.
Lithography originally used an image drawn in wax or other oily substance applied to a lithographic stone as the medium to transfer ink to the printed sheet. In modern times, the image is often made of polymer applied to a flexible aluminum plate. The image may be printed directly from the stone or plate (in which case it is reversed from the original image) or may be offset by transfer to a flexible sheet, usually rubber, for transfer to the printed article.
This process is different from intaglio printing where a plate is engraved, etched or stippled to make cavities to contain the printing ink, and in woodblock printing and letterpress where ink is applied to the raised surfaces of letters or images.
Most books, indeed all types of high-volume text, are now printed using offset lithography, the most common form of printing production.
The modern lithographic process
High-volume lithography is used today to produce posters, maps, books, newspapers, and packaging — just about any smooth, mass-produced item with print and graphics on it. Most books, indeed all types of high-volume text, are now printed using offset lithography.
In offset lithography, which depends on photographic processes, flexible aluminum, polyester, paper printing plates are used in place of stone tablets. Modern printing plates have a brushed or roughened texture and are covered with a photosensitive emulsion. The image on the plate emulsion can also be created through direct laser imaging in a CTP (Computer-To-Plate) device called a platesetter. The positive image is the emulsion that remains after imaging.
Andy Warhol is known for this technique!
Screen-printing (also known as "serigraphy") creates prints exhibiting a stenciled, complex deposit of ink through the utilization of a fabric stencil technique. Printmakers generally place it in the "planographic" category of printing due to the fact that no impression is actually made- the ink is simply pushed through the stencil against the surface of the paper. The general technique is accepted as involving one of many various types of 'mesh' stretched across a rectangular 'frame'- this looks much like a stretched canvas.
Etching is part of the intaglio family (along with engraving, drypoint, mezzotint, and aquatint.) Etching soon came to challenge engraving as the most popular printmaking medium. Its great advantage was that, unlike engraving which requires special skill in metalworking, etching is relatively easy to learn for an artist trained in drawing.
Etching prints are generally linear and often contain fine detail and contours. Lines can vary from smooth to sketchy. An etching is opposite of a woodcut in that the raised portions of an etching remain blank while the crevices hold ink. In pure etching, a metal (usually copper, zinc or steel) plate is covered with a waxy or acrylic ground. The artist then draws through the ground with a pointed etching needle. The exposed metal lines are then etched by dipping the plate in a bath of etchant. The etchant "bites" into the exposed metal, leaving behind lines in the plate. The remaining ground is then cleaned off the plate, and the printing process is then just the same as for engraving.