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A Brief History of Giclée Printing

The History of Giclée Printing

The process is relatively new, having its beginnings in the 90’s when in Los Angeles, printmaker Jack Duganne was producing high-quality images using printers at his studio that differed from what commercial fine art printmakers were doing with their IRIS printers. Jack wanted to separate himself from the negative connotations associated with the reproductions being created by IRIS printers, and set out to find a new name for his high-quality reproductions.

Inspired by the French word for inkjet (jet d’encre), Jack named his prints after the French word for nozzle (le gicleur). Since nozzles do all the spraying in fine art reproductions, he figured the name would be appropriate. Now all he had to do was turn his newfound term into a brand name. Jack simply went with the feminine word for spray in French (la giclee), and the new term was born. Pronounced ‘zhee-clay’, his new term has now become the defining term in the lexicon of fine art and photographic printmakers in the industry.

However, there were and are still big-name printmakers who refuse to use the fine art giclee term. Graham Nash and Mac Holbert came up with ‘digraph,’ to describe the artwork they were doing involving photographs. Photographers like it and prefer it to giclee, but artists and printmakers doing reproductions have generally stuck with the term giclee. Photographers have also adopted several other terms to refer to their work, such as ‘original digital prints,’ ‘inkjet prints,’ and ‘pigment prints.’

Read more about the history of giclée printing in our blog post.