What is Giclée Printing? - Understanding the Art and Process.

Learn what giclée printing is, its history, benefits, and applications. Discover why giclée prints are loved by artists and collectors alike for their quality and longevity.


Giclée printing is a fine art digital printing process that combines advanced inkjet technology with high-quality archival inks and substrates to produce vibrant and long-lasting prints.

Here is a guide on giclée printing, where it came from, what it is, what makes giclée prints special and why fine artists love them so much.

Let’s start at the beginning with a few facts about giclée…

Where did the term ‘giclée’ come from?

The term ‘giclée’ (pronounced "zhee-clay") was adopted by a Californian artist and print-maker named Jack Duganne in the 1990s to describe highly accurate fine art reproductions made on IRIS inkjet printers.

It stems from the French word ‘gicleur’ (meaning ‘jet’ or nozzle’) which is derived from the verb ‘gicler’ meaning ‘to spray or spurt’ and in this context, refers to spraying of the ink onto the substrate, usually paper but also canvas.

Despite being French in origin, the word ‘giclée’ is more commonly used within English speaking countries to refer to the process, in many parts of the world including the U.S.A. and U.K. The expression ’giclée print’ came into common usage following Jack Duganne’s adoption of the term.

Alternative terms commonly used are: "archival pigment prints," "fine art inkjet prints," or "pigment inkjet prints". Also there's the branded term "Digigraphie®" which is specific to prints produced by certain labs who use Epson printers. The technique in every case uses high-resolution printers and archival quality inks and papers to ensure longevity and vibrancy.

'Giclée' refers to both the process and final product.

Giclée print example by Anna Allworthy
Artwork: 'Prospect Cottage, Dungeness' by Anna Allworthy

What actually is a giclée print?

Magnified image of giclée print

A ‘giclée’ is a print made digitally, most commonly using a high specification form of inkjet printer, including manufacturers like Epson, Canon and Hewlett Packard.

The ink is sprayed onto the surface of specially coated paper or canvas providing even coverage and excellent tonal accuracy which results in rich velvety colours.

Giclée printing was developed as a way to reproduce original artworks as accurately as possible. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between the print and the real thing!

The essential component of a giclée print is the combination of lightfast pigment based inks of an inkjet printer and the archival quality of the substrate which has a minimum weight of around 300gsm.

What makes giclée prints special?

Their excellent quality and superb capacity to achieve high levels of accuracy in colour reproduction.

Giclée prints are produced using high gamut inkjet printers with up to 12 different coloured pigment based inks which are lightfast and archival. They not only produce a phenomenal range and depth of colour, but also smooth transition of tone and great luminosity, where required.

Paired with a range of museum grade papers or canvas, giclée prints will meet archival standards and bring many years of enjoyment for the artist or collector.

Giclée print example Jeremiah Goodman
Artwork: 'Villa Feltinelli Lago di Garda Italy' by Jeremiah Goodman

Why do fine artists love giclée printing?

Giclée printing example by Yvadney Davis
Artwork: Various works by Yvadney Davis

Print Quality

Giclée printing is particularly suited to fine art reproduction because of enhanced colour accuracy, richness of tone and potential longevity of the prints. Giclée prints are also known for their high resolution and detail, often making it difficult to distinguish the print from the original. For digital origination, the giclée print renders the digital file uniquely and faithfully.

Durability and Archival Life

The use of archival-quality pigment based inks and museum quality substrates ensures that giclée prints are durable and long-lasting, with colours that remain vibrant for many years.

Printing on demand

Giclée printing is great for smaller print runs forgoing the need to have specialist printing plates made. This is a great advantage over other print methods such as lithography. Prints files or what's called the 'matrix' are digitally captured, easy to store and can be used for repeat production as required. This makes a ‘print on demand’ service accessible and practical.


Artists can choose from a variety of papers and canvases to best suit their artwork and also hand embellish prints, allowing for a personalised touch in every print.

What are the applications of Giclée Printing?

Fine Art Reproductions

Giclée printing is used to reproduce original artworks, making art more accessible to a broader audience and offering artists and art publishers to sell limited and open editions.


The process is used commonly by photographers who want to present their work in the best possible light.

Digital Art

Digital artists, designers and illustrators use giclée printing to bring their creations to life in a physical form.

Mixed Media Art

Giclée printing is also suitable for mixed media artworks. Whether an artist combines traditional and digital techniques or uses various materials, giclée printing can accurately reproduce the complex details and textures, maintaining the integrity of the original piece.

Hoopoe Grey by Petra Börner
Artwork: 'Hoopoe Grey' by Petra Börner

Art4site's Commitment.

Certified Studio for digital fine art printing

At Art4site, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality giclée printing services, ensuring your artwork is reproduced with exceptional fidelity and longevity. As a Hahnemühle Platinum Certified Studio and a proud member of the Fine Art Trade Guild, we adhere to the highest industry standards. Our commitment extends beyond printing; we offer personalised support and expert advice to help you achieve the best possible results. Whether you're a traditional artist, digital creator, or photographer, Art4site is here to help you preserve and showcase your art with the utmost integrity and professionalism.

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