Prints, Reproductions and Originals, and now, Giclee?
Giclee is another word to add to the confusion for new art buyers. In my previous blog, I defined the terms: prints, reproductions and originals. Giclee is a fairly new word, invented in 1991 by Jack Duganne. In French, it refers to the ink spray coming from an inkjet printer’s nozzles.
I see giclees in many frame shops and shows where these are labeled “giclee prints”. Although a printer is used, they are not an art print. A woodblock, silkscreen, or etching are types of prints and are created as such. The artist works on a plate, be it plastic, metal, wood, silk or other material, to create original prints. In most cases, the process of making the print takes a press. Sometimes these are referred to as “multiple originals.”
With a reproduction, a copy is made from an original painting or drawing. Often this takes the form of a digital photo. Hence, this process does not have to be done by the artist. They may be sold as posters, cards, postcards or misnamed as “prints”. For example, although C.M. Russell died in 1926, reproductions are still being made of his original drawings, oils, and watercolors. You can visit any museum’s gift shop and find reproductions of many famous artists’ work and these were produced in most cases long after these artists died.
If a giclee is a copy of an original drawing or painting, then the product is a reproduction and not a print. If you ask, “why does it matter?”, I would say that the price should reflect the value of the artwork. All things being equal, an original should cost more than a print or reproduction. A reproduction’s value should be the lowest of the three types of art products.