Photographing Fine Art for Giclée Printing and Portfolios

Answers to your questions…

Fine Art Giclée FAQ

What is Giclée?

Giclée is the name given to a process of making reproductions of your artwork. It involves creating a digital representation of your work; either with a scanner and film or more commonly a high resolution digital camera, and the printing the digital file on specially designed high resolution InkJet printers using archival inks and specially prepared media. These media are customarily papers and canvases, but can also be metal, plastic, glass, even wood.

Is there really a market for Giclée prints?

You bet! Archival/Giclée prints are one of the hottest mediums for publishing art. Because it works from digital files and can be imaged onto many different media, making it perfect for the photographer who digitally enhances their files or the artist looking to reproduce their art in smaller quantities over a longer period of time. Like all artistic mediums, prices vary widely based on the typical factors, but these prints are artworks in their own right and command prices to match.

How long will they last?

Believe it or not, there are no hard and fast longevity standards for archival or Giclée prints! Most reputable suppliers use inks and papers that are lightfast rated to at least 50 years, though some suppliers feel that 20 years still qualifies as Giclée appropriate. Lightfast means there will be no visibly noticeable fading or color shift within the specified time period. Ours have been tested lightfast to 80 - 100 years under standard museum display conditions. If you’d care to read the Wilhelm Image Research test results, here is the link to their PDF.


Can I print on any paper?

Giclée papers are specially made for digital printing. While it is possible to treat available papers, canvases and even exotic materials to be receptive to the inks, it is very expensive to do so. Fortunately there are many fine art papers and canvasses that have been treated for optimal digital printing and we carry a large selection of them.

Can I save money by bringing my own paper?

Well… because of the necessary profiling procedures and additional proofing cycles, it is almost always quite a bit more expensive to provide your own stock. You may provide your own stock if you wish, but it will result in extra costs.

What if I want to use a paper you don't normally stock?

We are open to using special order paper, but usually it will require that you purchase an entire roll or box for your project, which can be quite expensive. Please check with us ahead of time and allow plenty of time for your project.

Why can't I do this myself at home?

You can! All it takes is time and money! Time to get the necessary knowledge and experience, to properly test and profile the printer, inks, and media. Money to buy an adequate printer, calibration equipment, archival inks and media to test and use. Some people find this investment worthwhile, but most professionals find they have more profitable things to do with their time and money. That's why we’ve spent more than a decade and many tens of thousands of dollars to make this service available to you!

I’m planning on having a press house make my edition. Why should I consider Giclée?

Commercial lithography can be very tempting to many artists, generally because the cost per print is so much less. We’ve worked with commercial lithography for over 3 decades and know it well. If you’re convinced that this is the route for you, let us help you get the most out of the process. But before you commit thousands of dollars upfront to the project, please consider some of these points:

Altho the cost per print is lower, you have to buy the whole edition at once. With JDA Creative Services’ Giclée Services, you can buy them as you need them – even one at a time! No more concerns about ending up with hundreds of litho prints mouldering in your attic, garage, or basement as the majority of artists that choose the commercial lithography method do.
Lithographic inks and papers aren’t as lightfast as Giclée inks and media are. Most lithographic inks show noticeable fading – even with careful display – in as little as 6 months – where Giclée materials can go a lifetime without noticeable change.
Giclée prints are made on the same fine art papers and canvasses made by the same companies that you use to create your originals. Crane, Hahnemüle, Arches, Ilford, Fredrix, and many others. These papers and canvasses then have a special archival receptor agent applied that optimizes the paper for archival inkjet use. These papers are not well suited for commercial lithography and are usually replaced by thinner stocks better suited to the lithographic process.
Because Litho papers are optimized for the printing press , they are not well suited for embellishing and remarqueing. As these techniques can add great value to a limited or open edition print, its wise to keep this in mind.

We have tremendous experience working with commercial lithography. Even today, we spend about 20% of our time on commercial printing projects. There are many instances where litho is superior to other printing methods but Fine Art Giclée isn’t one of them.

How do I get started?

That's the easiest part. Just give us a call or send an email and we'll lead you through the whole process. Its simple and we can handle everything you need. Just phone us at 503-525-0846, email Dolores or Jim , message us through twitter or Facebook