What is Giclee?
What is this Giclee (zhee-clay) you keep hearing about? Pull a Google and you'll find it's
idiomatic French meaning, roughly, "to spurt" or "to spray." In reality, it's a marketing effort by
those who bought very expensive equipment several years ago to give their product a higher
acceptance within the fine arts community. What it means is "inkjet output."
Of course we're talking extremely good, extremely accurate, and extremely capital intensive
output. It's not cheap, neither is the end product when done correctly. In the early years, giclee
suffered from a lack of longevity when compared to watercolors, photographs, acrylics and oils.
Since that time, the process and materials have been greatly improved such that quality giclee
can be expected to last 70 to 100 years or more before there is any fading discernable by the
human eye. By using archival paper or canvas (I use acid-free Arches and Somerset watercolor
papers), and specially formulated, pigment-based inks (pigment, like paint, not dyes) I can
extend the life as outlined above. That's comparable to a watercolor or photograph when they are
kept out of harm's way.
What does it mean to keep them out of harm's way?
   Paper: Have it matted & mounted using archival materials and techniques (acid- and lignin-
free), use glass to protect it from moisture and the harmful effects of sunlight and fluorescent
lighting. If you can afford it, use UV and Museum-grade archival glass, otherwise, make sure the
glass or plexi at least has UV coating. Finally, you should not hang your giclee works in direct
sunlight. Sunlight will kill photos, the best light source is regular incandescent, believe it or not!
   Canvas: Prints on canvas receive a special protective coating with a UV blocking factor of
99% that also protects from moisture, smoke and other environmental elements. Testing by
Wilhelm Imaging Research indicates this combination of materials has an average 140-year
lifespan under normal conditions. Even with this additional protection, I don't recommend direct
sunlight for your canvas print.
What is Giclee?
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