Giclées & Limited Editions

What is a Giclée?
Giclée (pronounced “zhee-clay”) is a term used to describe fine art reproductions that are made using professional ink-jet printing equipment. The word “giclée” is a French term that literally means “a spray or spurt of liquid.”  It is used to distinguish the technique from traditional offset or lithographic printing. Giclée prints are superior to lithography for many reasons. The high quality photographic resolution produced by ink-jet technology is seamless compared to the tiny dots that can be seen in lithographic prints. Giclées also enjoy a wider range of colors and because they are produced individually, they afford the artist greater control over the quality of each print.

The Giclée Process
The artwork is photographed or scanned and converted into digital format.  It is then color corrected in PhotoShop and printed on archival paper using seven different colors of lightfast, pigmented Epson K3 UltraChrome inks, which is the current industry standard.   The printer’s nozzles spray millions of microscopic droplets of ink onto the paper or canvas, actually mixing the color as it is being applied.  The result is an incredibly detailed, vibrant reproduction of the original work.

The word “edition” refers to the number of prints of a particular artwork that will be printed and released.  If the total number of prints produced is limited to a certain amount, it is considered a limited or closed edition. In offset or lithographic reproduction, the prints are usually produced all at once and then the “plate” is destroyed.  With giclée technology, the artist can produce the prints on an “as needed” basis.  This is more economical for the artist and allows a greater flexibility in regard to the size of the print and the substrate (type of paper or canvas) that is used.

Limited Editions
Artists limit the number of prints in an edition in order to retain the work’s uniqueness and to ensure its authenticity.  The smaller the edition, the more each print is likely to increase in value over time. Most limited edition prints come with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the artist that guarantees that the image will not have more than a certain number of prints made.  Some artists create limited editions in different sizes (other than the size of the original work,) such as 300 in 18”x 24” and 300 in 24”x 30”, etc.  If you are concerned about the uniqueness and authenticity of a print, check with the artist about these details. A signed and number limited edition (s/n) usually has the artist’s signature at the bottom left (on the white paper, not on the image) and the print numbers at the bottom right side.  There are two print numbers.  The first (top) is the number of the print and the second (bottom) is the number of the total amount of prints in the edition.  (Example: 56/300)

Open Editions
If the artist plans to produce an unlimited number of prints, the edition is designated as open. The print may be signed, but will not have any numbers on it.

Artist Proofs
Often, the artist will reserve an extra set of prints for private use.  These are called artist proofs and are generally more valued by collectors since they are usually harder to obtain.  Occasionally, artist proofs are some of the first prints made and may have some anomaly or defect that disqualified them from inclusion in the regular edition.  As with coin and stamp col-lecting, this can sometimes give greater value to the print, not less.  Artist proofs are signed and numbered separately from the main edition and can be identified by the initials A/P on the print. (Example: A/P 7/30)

Low Inventory
This indicates a limited edition that is almost “sold out” (less than 5% of the edition remaining.) Prints will increase in value as the number of prints in the edition decreases.