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The History Of Giclee

     You probably already heard of the term “giclee”. This neologism was created about 20 years ago by Mr. Duganne, a French man who lived in Los Angeles. He started using a machine made by Scitex, an Israeli company specialized in digital imaging equipment. The machine in question costed over $100,000 and printers used it to make proofs of their proof their work before going to press.

Instead of using proofing paper he put art quality watercolor paper in the machine. Once artists and photographers heard of this medium they immediately recognized its value; bright colors, sharp images printed on watercolor paper created a buzz in the industry. I was in Los Angeles at the time all this happened.

The company I worked for purchased the printer roughly one year after Mr. Duganne, who was the only one in the world to make art prints with the Scitex.. The concept was pretty simple: mount a sheet of art grade watercolor paper and send the image from a computer to the printer. The printer had the the classic color configuration: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. I was one of the first to use the printer and it had many flaws. The nozzles sprayed ink directly onto the paper. Unfortunately the nozzles, been the diameter of 1 millionth of a human hair, had a tendency to clog which made my job a mix of digital work and bathroom work! I frequently had to go to the bathroom to completely rinse the nozzles. I am not joking when I say that out of a full day of printing (say 8 hours) I ended up spending at least four washing the nozzle heads. The nozzles had to be clear in order of creating true color prints..

The costs involved in making prints with the Scitex were pretty high. It took about four sheets of paper in order to get one decent print. I still remember the very first one we ever made. It was full of brilliant reds and yellows. The black was deeper than anything I had seen on paper. The first inks for the machine were not archival. It took about a couple years for manufacturers to come up with inks with a rating of 20 years before fading.

Nowadays the printing world has changed dramatically. The new printers have up to 12 colors and cost a fraction of the original printer. Almost all the prints coming out of the new printers are flawless. There is of course a group of people out there who consider giclee printing a form of cheating where original work is turned into reproductions. The giclees are so good that sometimes it is hard to distinguish them from the original.

.I strongly disagree with defining giclee printing a form of reproduction. Printing with the giclee methodology is just another way of printing images. Many of my client photographers use giclees as their only way of printing. You can compare photographic paper to for example archival pure cotton paper. You can create original work just by printing one original. In conclusion giclee is nothing but a sophisticated, high end way of printing images.

A normal set up, including a computer, the machine, a scanner and other tools normally costs just a little over $20,000. But a machine is a machine and what counts is the ability of the printmaker to render a digital image in the best possible way. Times have changed but the ability off having an eye for color, contrast and brightness are still essential to producing top-quality printing.

Article Source:

Fabio Braghi is the owner of, Inc, a giclee printing company

Posted on 2013-09-24, By: *

* Click on the author’s name to view their profile and articles!!!

Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author.

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