Giclée (pronounced "zhee-clay"), is an invented name (i.e. a neologism) for the process of making fine art prints from a digital source using ink-jet printing. The intent of that name was to distinguish commonly known industrial "Iris proofs" from the type of fine art prints artists were producing on those same types of printers. 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.

Current usage

Beside its association with Iris prints, in the past few years, the word “giclée,” as a fine art term, has come to be associated with prints using fade-resistant "archival" inks. These printers use the CMYK color process but may have multiple cartridges for variations of each color based on the CcMmYK color model (e.g. light magenta and light cyan inks in addition to regular magenta and cyan); this increases the apparent resolution and color gamut and allows smoother gradient transitions[3]. The most commonly-used printers are models from manufacturers such as Canon, Eastman Kodak, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, ITNH Ixia, Mimaki, Mutoh, ColorSpan, and Roland DGA. 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. Indeed, a new industry has been created in supplying the media for this emerging market.

Applications

Artists tend to use these types of inkjet printing processes commonly called "Giclée" to make reproductions of their original two-dimensional artwork, photographs or computer generated art. Professionally produced inkjet prints are much more expensive on a “per print” basis than the traditional four color offset lithography process originally used to make such reproductions (a large format inkjet can cost more than $50 a print, not including scanning and color correction, as opposed to $5 a print for a four-color offset litho of the same image printed in a run of 1000)