There are so many puns I could have used for the title of this blog post but I’ve been a good boy and refrained.
What you are about to read has been a long time coming. During my digital printing career, the best part of fourteen years now, there’s been one issue that’s bugged me throughout and just doesn’t want to go away.
In fact, it only seems to become more prevalent.
It occurred to me that the best thing to do in this situation would be to empower you, the art world, with the appropriate information and let you decide for yourselves.
So, here’s what’s been bugging me, along with what I know about it:
The word Giclée.
In the art world, Giclée has become a widely adopted term to describe inkjet printing of the highest quality — so much so that it’s even in my computer’s dictionary.
In galleries, websites and portfolios around the globe you’ll see it misspelled and mispronounced like no other as people try to get comfortable with this tricky word.
Even Photogravure and Daguerrotype (names for other processes) seem easier to say than Giclée.
Archival Pigment Print (Detail) — ‘O Hanami’ by Paul Kenny
A Little Bit of History…
The original intentions behind the use of giclée are totally innocent and honest.
Back in the Nineties, a famous established American printer called Jack Duganne was at the bleeding edge of digital inkjet printing technology.
In making his beautiful prints, Jack was among the very first people to offer inkjet printing commercially to the discerning fine art world.
But he needed a name for his process, a name that would sound elegant and really pop…
“The French language sounds good”, thought Jack (who told me this himself many years ago), so he picked up an English-French dictionary and looked up the word for squirt or spurt — after all, that’s what happens when the printheads fire ink onto paper, right?
And, lo, Giclée was born and we’ve battled with its spelling and pronunciation ever since.
Archival Pigment Print (Detail) — From ‘North Northwest Beginnings’ by Julian Calverley
What’s Wrong with Giclée…?
It sounds nice doesn’t it? And, in a way, it is.
Unfortunately, you only have to speak to a Frenchman (or, as happened recently, a Swiss friend) about your Giclée process to be sure of a drenching as a result of the coffee they’ve just spat all over you…
Why? Because, and there’s no easy way to say this, in French slang giclée means ejaculation.
In his first week working with me, Antoine (a wonderful French assistant) saw an email drop into his inbox entitled ‘Giclée Print Order’.
Through his tears of laughter, strong French accent and slightly broken English, he finally composed himself and managed to utter the now legendary words:
“Hey, Man, we’re going to be really tired after making these prints, no…?”
So, Which Name Should We Use..?
If you’ve ever worked with me or downloaded my Price List, you’ll know that I only ever use Giclée in brackets like this:
(sometimes known as Giclée)
Digital Inkjet Prints of the Highest Quality doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so I like to call them what they are:
Archival Pigment Prints (APP)
Take note, however, that I only use this name because that’s what they are — archival and made with pigment inks.
Be sure of your choice of paper and ink before you adopt the name to describe your own printing methods.
Archival Pigment Print (Detail) — Liam Murray’s ‘Caravan’
Spread the Word…
Once you’ve digested the information above, decide for yourself.
If, like me, you feel that Giclée should no longer be used to describe high quality inkjet printing, then spread the word — PLEASE!
Tell everybody who needs to know and, hopefully, we can make a difference…