2014 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market Preview: Are Giclées for You?

What is a Giclée Print?

what is a giclee print

A skilled technician at MFA Talon Graphics checks a giclee print in progress.

With holiday shopping well under way, now might be the perfect time to offer giclées to your customers. What is a giclée print, you say? Check out Barney Davey’s article “Are Giclées for You?” to learn about printing, pricing, marketing and more. You can read an excerpt from the article below, or read the complete article in the 2014 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market (currently on sale for 50% off!) or on Artist’s Market Online.

Keep creating and good luck!


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 Are Giclées for You? Reap the Profits from Fine Art Digital Reproduction by Barney Davey

Throughout the history of fine art printmaking, artists have reproduced their work using the state-of-the-art techniques available to them. Using today’s giclée process can result in an infinite number of prints of extraordinary quality. Giclée (zhee-CLAY; from the French gicler, meaning “to spray”) is a term describing this modern printmaking method that sends digitized images of paintings to ink jet printers to produce high-quality reproductions.

Why Print Giclées?

With ink jet printing, artists can print on demand and avoid the risk of prepaying for large print runs. Additionally, giclées allow artists to offer variable print sizes, substrates and price points, all of which help satisfy the tastes and preferences of more collectors. Plus, the color range capabilities of the giclée process greatly exceed that of offset printing.
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Do Your Homework

While the print market offers potentially lucrative secondary income for visual artists, creating giclées isn’t a remedy if you’re not doing well selling original art. A key to success in the art business is having the ability to create work collectors want to own.
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Selecting a Printmaker

Finding the right person to make your prints is important. While proximity is valuable, it’s trumped by a reliable relationship. A personal recommendation is the best way to locate a giclée printmaker. Contact artists currently using any printmaker you’re considering. Look for printmakers who do “in-house image capture,” in other words, who do the work themselves.
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Getting Great Results

Quality is a must for competing in the art print market. Producing the highest-quality finished work begins with the image capture, and quality image capture starts with obtaining the highest-caliber digitized file possible. The adage “garbage in equals garbage out” applies to giclée printing.
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Who Owns the Copyright?

It seems logical that an artist would own all copyrights pertaining to reproductions; however, when printmakers create new versions of an artist’s original, those prints can be legally considered “derivative works.” Learn more by researching the Copyright Registration for Derivative Works circular, available from the Copyright.gov website at www.copyright.gov/circs/circ14.pdf.
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Pricing Your Work

Many artists struggle with pricing their art. This isn’t something taught in art schools, and information on the Internet is inconsistent. Ultimately, setting the right price requires research. Price your work too high and you lose sales. Price your work too low and you lose profits. For a start, find an artist who does comparable work and is selling to your target market.

Marketing Your Work

In the past, building a network of galleries was the key to success in the print market. Although that model still works, it’s not as reliable as it once was. Such things as the lasting economic downturn, shifting consumer habits, e-commerce and big box retailing, cheap imported oil paintings and social media have changed print marketing.
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Achievements in the print market have given many artists more exposure and financial stability. If (1) you’re ambitious and determined; (2) your work has widespread appeal; (3) you carefully assess your ambitions, finances, marketing skills and other resources; and (4) you set goals based on realistic expectations—then you’ll have the best chance to reap the benefits of selling giclées.


Barney Davey has advised visual artists on business matters since 1988. Author of How to Profit from the Art Print Market, 2nd Edition (Bold Star Communications, 2011), a bestseller in the Amazon.com “Business of Art” category, he also publishes ArtPrintIssues.com, a business blog for visual artists. Learn more at his website, www.barneydavey.com.

Excerpted from the May 2012 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Used with the kind permission of The Artist’s Magazine, a publication of F+W Media, Inc. Visit www.artistsnetwork.com to subscribe.


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