About Gicleé Prints
The first question I am usually asked is how to pronounce the word “gicleé.” First, understand that it is a French word. The “g” at the beginning is soft. It sounds like “zhee” instead of the hard “gee” we use in English. The “g” and “i” blend together, the “i” having the long “e” sound. The second syllable “cleé” is pronounced “clay.”
In some respect, I feel like a magician who is about to reveal the workings of a hollowed secret trick. But here it is. Essentially gicleé means ink-jet that it is an ink-jet print. Depending on the humor of translator, the word literally means “to spit,” “to sputter,” “to splatter.”
“Ink-jet” is a pedestrian name for an art print and it did not get much traction among art buyers. A small group who recognized the word was a barrier formed the “International Association of Fine Art Digital Printmakers” and decided on the word “gicleé” as a substitute for ink-jet, especially as it relates to art prints. I was a late member of the society until it vanished, its mission accomplished and no longer needed.
I must hastily point out that all ink-jet printing machines are not created equal. The significant elements of printers capable of creating gicleés are these:
1. They are capable of printing in high resolutions.
2. They can print on heavyweight papers.
3. They use more than four print-heads and inks.
4. The inks and papers are of archival quality.
So much has happened with computers and printers in the last few years. The first desktop ink-jet printers used only black ink. They used only one ink cartridge.
Creating pictures on a computer was primitive in those days too. The computer was like having a very expensive, electronic etch-a-sketch, but that did not stop some of us who were mesmerized by the possibilities looming ahead though.
We saw desktop computing as a new medium, a new tool, in some ways not unlike the Zerox machine . . . a different way to create images.
I remember my excitement when Hewlett Packard came out with a few color cartridges for their desktop printers. By changing cartridges in my single cartridge machine and making multiple passes I could turn out color prints. The process was much like doing a block print or a silk screen. The registration was not too accurate and there were surprises at every step of the way to a final print, but it was exciting.
Things changed pretty quickly. Within a few years I was creating images with a computer that were light years beyond etch-a-sketch, and even low cost machines could do multi-colored prints.
The quality soon became good enough that galleries and buyers were adding gicleé prints to their collections. Gicleé prints now can be found in notable collections in these museums (among many others:
• The Louvre Museum in Paris
• The Smithsonian
• The British Museum
• The Washington Post collection
• The New York Public Library
• The Philadelphia Museum of Art
• The New York Metropolitan Museum
• The National Art Museum
• The San Francisco Museum of
• The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art
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