Giclée (zhee-clay) is a French term, in this case meaning “spray of ink”. A giclée is a means of reproducing an original. It is not an original graphic but a fine quality reproduction print. Giclée prints render deep, saturated colours and have a beautiful painting quality that retains minute detail along with subtle tints and blends. The prints are sometimes hand embellished by the artist using paints and inks and even possibly things like gold foil for a mixed media effect.
The production of a giclée print is not an automatic process. The human touch is critical in several phases of the giclée process. All giclée prints begin with an original piece of art which is scanned into the computer, where the scan is colour corrected to ensure the digital image is as closely matched to the original as possible. That colour correction requires an experienced eye and a gentle touch in making the proper adjustments in tone, contrast, sharpness and other factors to produce a print that faithfully reproduces the original. In matching the computer image with the final print, a practised eye must make adjustments for the best results. And last, the printer itself needs steady attention to produce consistent, quality results. In short, the human hand is part of every step of the giclée process. Indeed, the difference between a quality printer and one that is not, lies almost entirely in the human involvement and craftsmanship.
This printing technique uses a planographic process in which prints are pulled on a special press from a flat stone or metal surface. The surface has been chemically sensitised so that ink sticks only to the design areas, and is repelled by the non-image areas. Lithography was invented in Solnhofen, Germany by Alois Senefelder in 1798. The early history of lithography is dominated by great French artists such as Daumier and Delacroix, and later by Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Braque and Miro.
A special photo-mechanical technique in which the image to be printed is transferred to the negative plates and printed onto papers. Offset lithography is very well adapted to colour printing. In the process of producing limited editions the finest reprographic techniques are used to split the original painting into the four printing colours. High quality mechanical printing then enables the translation of this image onto paper. The plates are destroyed in order that the authenticity and integrity of the limited edition print is maintained.
These are created by the long established method which, in simple terms, is a stencil printing process in which colour, usually paint or ink is passed through a fine screen onto paper. The screen traditionally used comprises a fine weave silk, or similar, pulled over and secured to the frame. The silk is then masked excepting those areas where the paint is required to pass through. As each individual colour and shade requires a separate screen the whole process is lengthy and requires considerable skill. Slowly then, screen by screen, with precise alignment the final image is worked towards. The artist is involved during the creation of each edition, approving various stages and often making changes and additions, adding to the originality of the final item.
The term collagraph is derived from the word collage, meaning attaching various materials to a surface. The collagraphs are made by using a metal plate with a variety of materials applied to it. This creates variable levels and textures on the surface.The term collagraph is derived from the word collage, meaning attaching various materials to a surface. The collagraphs are made by using a metal plate with a variety of materials applied to it. This creates variable levels and textures on the surface.
A variety of high quality, coloured oil based inks are then rubbed into the plate by hand using dappers and rollers, filling all the relief grooves. The extreme pressure exerted by the press, not only transfers the inked image, but also embossing from the plate onto the paper, which gives the final print its unique appearance
Almost all of the ink is removed from the plate after each print has been taken. Therefore, the lenghty process of reapplying inks to the plate has to be repeated each time, making every image individual. After the image is dry, other colours can be added to enhance the effect. Once the edition has been printed, the plate is destroyed, ensuring its limited availability.
Limited edition prints have never been so collectable. The faithful translation of original paintings into limited editions enables an artist’s work to be enjoyed by more collectors. Most editions are reproduced from 65 to a maximum of 850 copies and often original serigraph prints are less than 400. The hand written number which appears on each print is vital – it guarantees not only the size but also the authenticity of the edition. The plates, films and materials involved in the reproduction are all destroyed following printing, which further ensures their authenticity.
Each edition bears the unique signature of the artist. This signature authenticates each reproduction of the artist’s original painting and also ensures the edition is to their complete satisfaction.