What is giclee art?

The term ‘giclee’ was first used in the early 1990s by printmaker Jack Duganne to describe fine art digital prints made using an inkjet printer.

Pronounced ‘zhee’clay’, it derives from the French verb ‘to spray’, which is how inkjet printers produce the pieces.

Shortly before then, at the end of the previous decade, the name was originally applied to fine art prints produced on a modified Iris printer in which small spraying devices match the colour and accurately apply ink in the correct areas.

Giclee art provides artists with high-quality prints of their original pieces, something that had not been seen before the 1980s.

During the 1990s, giclee prints were produced only in specialised shops with the equipment and capability of scanning or photographing the artwork before editing it digitally to create an accurate copy.

It was a costly process, and therefore limited to those that could afford it.

However, more recently, thanks to technological advancements, an extensive range of fine art printers is widely available.

More accessible as a result, artists can create their own giclee prints.

This method has been a popular alternative for art collectors who want to own a fine art piece when the original has already been sold or is too expensive.

For artists, it provides a means of extending the lifespan of their art while making it more affordable to those with a smaller budget.

Limited edition or open edition

Giclee prints will either be open edition or limited edition prints – a choice made by the artist.

The former permits them to sell as many copies of an original artwork as they want while the latter, as the name suggests, restricts sales to a finite number.

That often makes those works more valuable because they are signed by hand and numbered by the artist to indicate their rarity.

What is the difference between giclee and a digital art print?

The main difference between a giclee and art print is the former is designed to last much longer.

Today, anyone can print an image from their phone or computer at home that is a decent quality.

That makes adorning your home with new, exciting art quick and convenient, but ultimately it is not designed to last.

The quality of the materials used in digital prints, from the paper to the ink, means that they will not take long to fade – usually from exposure to sunlight.

Meanwhile giclee art prints use high-quality materials and procedures to produce the perfect replica of an original.

While it may appear obvious to opt for the cheapest method, the results are not as beautiful.

What is used to create a giclee print?

Any two dimensional piece of artwork can be replicated by a giclee print, whether it be acrylic, oil or watercolour paint.

There are key criteria that must be met:


An appropriate wide format inkjet printer must be used to create a giclee print.

You will not achieve the outcome you want by using an everyday printer.

For that reason, artists take time to research the ink quality, resolution and print size capabilities.


The resolution is one of the most important elements of a giclee print.

The original artwork must be scanned or photographed at 300dpi (dots per inch), or higher, to capture accurately even the smallest detail.


The ink used will have a significant impact on the colour accuracy of the print.

That is why it must be pigmented rather than the dye used in standard printers.

There must be at least eight different coloured pigmented inks to achieve a true-to-life colour balance.

Paper type

Giclee prints cannot use everyday printing paper and instead use archival paper as it is made with a higher alkaline content, or with a neutral pH, to ensure it will not turn yellow or brittle with age.

As the name suggests, it is a product that is designed to last.

There is a wide variety of materials that artists use for giclee prints, from gloss and matt paper to canvas, watercolour and even velvet.

They offer the closest resemblance of the beauty and intrigue found in an original piece of art, and the process of creating these prints guarantees you receive a premium quality piece of work that will last as long as the original.


Toni Thornton Fine Art canvas giclee prints are created using a 12-colour fine art printing process and are beautifully hand-finished by one of the country’s most experienced teams.

We make sure that each print is produced on 400gsm fine art canvas, and is made available in a range of sizes and framing options.

Each print is a limited edition example with only a certain number of each prints being produced, this is specified in the product information.

Artwork will be signed by hand, and numbered, once purchased.

If you have any questions about giclee art prints, or would like a quote for bespoke artwork, please email admin@tonithorntonart.com Or, if you would prefer, please call us on 01977 809048 where a member of the Toni Thornton Art team will be happy to help.


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