. . . and how they compare to traditional prints or to prints from high-speed printing presses
The answers aren’t simple. To define a gicleé as a high quality ink-jet print doesn’t say enough.
Some artists are not too concerned with the archival quality of either the inks or the paper and are ready to assign “gicleé” to any ink-jet print.
It is true that when we speak of archival quality inks as related to gicleé prints that we must depend on labratory tests and projections extrapolated from the data to determine how long the inks will hold up to UV exposure. Since archival inks for these printers are fairly new, there simply isn’t any other way.
Even though we do not know for sure how long to expect the best of these prints to last, I believe it is important for me as an artist to use the best materials possible. It is equally imperative for the collector to treat my prints kindly if he or she wishes to preserve them.
Technically a gicleé is miles ahead of prints made on modern, high speed printing presses. Better papers are used for one thing. The inks are better, and the resolution of a gicleé is on the order of a quantum leap better.
A gicleé, for instance, is more like an airbrush painting than a Serat. The dots are very fine and closely spaced. Those dots are usually impossible to see even with a hi-powered magnifying glass.
But beyond that, ink-jet printers use more colors and better inks than commercial high speed printing presses and the inks are applied differently.
Aside from the technical quality of the print, however, there are some other issues for collectors.
The principle ones are these:
1. How much involvement the artist has in the process and whether it is a significant part of the creation.
2. With a digitized file prints can be produced on demand.
3. Large editions of a print are not very likely because there is no significant cost savings in printing gicleés in quantity. The cost of making a gicleé print is expensive, running into double and triple digits per print compared to pennies on a high speed printing press.
Gicleé prints come in two varieties: reproductions of art in another medium, an oil painting, collage, or watercolor, for instance; a work created digitally where the prints are the “original” in the same sense that a photograph or serigraph is and original.
Something closer to tradition is where the artist makes his creation on the computer . . . the original is simply a digital file that exists no where else.
My prints are originals because I create them in the computer. Also my creations may change with each print over the course of time for several reasons. Since I only print a few prints at a time as I need them several things may happen between each print session. For example the inks I use, even the printer, may change between. I may change the type of paper. And as sometimes happens when I look at a work of mine after it has seasoned for a while I see things about it that I want to change, and I do it.
In the oldest of traditions I have created a few limited editions in the past and signed and numbered them. But it is a tradition I may let pass by. If I do it will be for very limited editions in the range of five to ten prints that I will create in one printing session. For the most part, however, limited and numbered editions are not for me.
I intend to spend much of my time in the future creating one of a kind prints . . . originals in the largest sense of the word.
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