A giclee (or giclée, pronounced zhee-klay) is generally understood to be a high-quality inkjet reproduction of artwork. The high-quality giclee printer is not the same as a standard desktop inkjet printer. It is much larger and uses up to 12 different inks at one time, thereby providing excellent color accuracy. Because the colors are sprayed, rather than produced with the screens that offset printing machines use, the image is not constituted from a dot screen pattern. Giclee printers use archival, light-fast inks, which, if kept out of strong light, should not fade for many years.
Fine art printmakers do not want giclees to be called prints, preferring the terms copies or reproductions, since giclees were not created by the actual hand of a printmaker. A giclee usually does not appreciate in value, unlike a true fine art print. Museum curators are likely to use the term “digital inkjet print” for original artworks created solely in the digital medium (on a computer) and then made tangible with inkjet print technology.
The first step is to choose a printer. Be sure to examine samples of the printer’s work ahead of time and to always get a proof of your own reproduction. The quality of your reproduction depends on the quality of your original, whether a photograph or an original scan.
One of the advantages of giclee printing is that it is cost-effective to print only a few, or even one, of an image. The artist can decide whether to stock up with several for future orders or print as needed. Many artists simply offer reproductions of their most popular quilts. Sometimes the giclee is a smaller size than the original – not unusual for very large quilts. The decision for reducing the size might be to cut costs or it might be that the printing equipment has a size limit.
Price points are arrived at in various ways. Some artists double the printer’s cost. Others research the prices set by other artists in their area. One artist sets the price at five times the cost of materials. Aim for a final price that covers materials, overhead and profit, and also your time.
You can learn more about giclees and the experiences of quilt artists including offering limited editions and the effect the giclees have on the quilt market in the Summer 2010 issue of The Professional Quilter. This is available to members of the International Associaton of Professional Quilters. You can join here.
The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.