What is Giclée Printing?

The word “Giclée” is based on the French words:
“gicleur” = noun: a jet or a nozzle
“gicler” = verb: to squirt out
“une giclée” = noun: a spurt of some liquid

Seeing a need to improve the digital printing process, Graham Nash, of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame, essentially created giclée printing by modifying existing inkjet printers to print his own fine art photography. Most notability, with business partners at Nash Editions he modified an IRIS Graphics 3047 inkjet printer to print in a way that gave the prints finer details, longer lasting colors, and the ability to print on better, thicker papers. The word Giclée was coined by printmaker and team member, Jack Duganne.

While a quality giclee print costs more per inch than a traditional 4-color lithograph, up to 10 times more in many cases. Giclée printing eliminates the need for the expensive printing plates, and set-up of off-set printing that requires large print runs to justify the labor. Therefore, giclée reproductions can be printed affordably individually or in small batches which allows artists and designers to print on demand as needed.

There is no formal regulation of the term giclée, but it typically means an inkjet print that uses pigments, dyes, and fade-resistant archival inks, and is printed on archival substrates. The CMYK color process is used as a base, but in recent years extra colors such as light cyan, light gray, and even greens and oranges have been added to improve the color range, or gamut, and allow for smoother, clearer gradient transitions.