What’s the difference between high street prints and giclée fine art prints?
What is a giclée fine art print?
The word Giclée (“g-clay”), is derived from the French verb gicler meaning “to squirt or spray”.
Giclée is a printing process that combines pigment based inks (rather than the dye-based inks found in lower-cost inkjets) with high quality archival quality paper.
Fine art prints retain tonality and hue (ie the colours won’t change).
I only offer giclée fine art prints, because they’re archival and museum quality – I want clients to have the most beautiful print possible of their photograph, and one that will stand the test of time.
Print quality: colours and skin tone
It’s much easier to see the difference between the print qualities in person (I’d be glad to show you samples). To give you an idea of the difference here’s a giclée fine art print (above) and a high street print (below) – both printed from exactly the same digital file.
Have a look at the skin tones – bright and fresh in the fine art print, but yellow and murky on the high street print. Her eyes gleam in the fine art print, but that brightness is totally absent from the high street print.
With high street prints, it’s almost pot luck how their printers are calibrated and how the colours will come out. My computer is calibrated with my printer’s system, so I know the colours will come out exactly as expected.
Fading vs. museum quality
High street prints will fade in time, especially if they’re framed and exposed to the light. Giclée fine art prints, however, are museum quality.
When we were sorting through my late grandmother’s belongings, I found a pair of faded prints that really brought this home to me. The prints are of my mother and me, just after I was born.
They’ve faded so much you can’t make out most of the detail – by the time my daughter’s an adult, I suspect the prints won’t be visible at all. I won’t be able to pass this print to her, it’s already past its shelf life.
These prints affected me very deeply, and I decided there and then to only offer the highest quality archival prints so that my clients won’t experience something similar.
Family photographs are precious – it’s important to me that clients can pass on photographs to their children, for generations to come.