Arts Council For Painters BC, Canada

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Avoid Giclee Prints At All Costs

Giclee prints are are not fine art. Unfortunately many artists are trying to pass them off as fine art prints and consumers are falling for it.

Aren’t all prints the same?

The difference between a fine art print and a commercial print is: A fine art print is hand made using the traditional methods of printmaking; Woodcut, etching, screenprint lithography or mono-prints. Giclee prints are commercially made by the click of a finger and have no human touch to them other than the cheek of the artist hand signing them and even numbering them as if they are fine art.

They are nothing more than a reproduction. Even a giclee print signed by Picasso would only be worth the same as a signature alone.

A fine art print has been printed from either a hand crafted plate, block, stone or screen. It has been meticulously inked with fine detail by the artist between 30 minutes to 6 hours (if complex enough) and that’s for just one print! In the case of a reduction woodcut block, the printing process can take up to 12 weeks or more.

A hand drawn printing press is used to press the print. This is done once at a time with great care. etching press

Because this process is 100% hand produced, no two prints are ever the same. There will always be subtle nuances that makes each piece an original piece of art. Because of the big difference between a good print and a bad one, a printmaker will make at least 3 different editions. The “working proofs”, a numbered edition (which he sells) and the “artists proofs” (which he keeps)

The “working proofs” are the prints that didn’t come out quite perfect… it might have a slight inked fingerprint at the corner of the paper, or not quite enough vibrancy… or an un-noticable smudge somewhere in the image. These prints are deemed slightly faulty and are signed with a W/P (working proof) then the number of the edition. These types of prints are often given away by the artist or sold cheaply.

The numbered edition is signed to signify the number of prints completed for sale.

The “artists proofs” are the best quality prints out of the whole printing process. The artist picks out the best 10%-15% and editions them A/P (artist proof) and then the edition number. These prints are often kept and/or swapped with other artists. printmaking

As you can see there is a great deal of effort with traditional printmaking opposed to pumping out reproductions at a click of a finger. Artistic greats like Picasso, Dali, Mattise and Renior to name a few were all talented printmakers like they were painters.

If you choose to buy a traditional printmaking over worthless giclee, there is a chance you will have collectable piece.