First things first, let's get our pronunciation in order: giclee is pronounced “zhee-clays”, and is French for “to-spray”. This “spray” is in reference to the way an inkjet printer sprays color inks on the selected medium, in our case, our 280GSM professional archival art paper.
You might have heard the term “inkjet printer” before, and that’s because many of the widely available home-office printers are part of the inkjet family. They all “spray” ink on paper. But not all inkjet printers are capable of printing giclee quality prints.
That’s because while the word giclee comes from a method of printing (inkjet printing), the modern use of the term in the art world is as a standard of quality. Today, the word giclee is used to describe art prints that are of gallery level quality, apt to be displayed and sold as fine art.
Thus, in order to produce true giclee level prints, certain standards for resolution, ink types, paper quality and printer capabilities must all be satisfied.
In order to be able to print at high enough quality to be considered a giclee print, the printer must be able to print at 300 DPI (dots per inch) or higher. Dots per inch is a measure of spatial printing resolution, and refers to the number of individual dots that can be placed in a line within the span of 1 inch. A classic office monochromatic printer will typically have a DPI range of 60 to 90 DPI, while your standard home office printer will print at 150 to 300 DPI, depending on the print-mode selected. We calibrate our printers to prints at 480 DPI, significant higher than the giclee requirements, allowing for beautifully detailed prints.
The giclee requirements for ink are focused on the type of ink used rather than the quantity of ink per square inch. There are two primary ink types in the inkjet printer universe: dye based and pigment based (which we use). Dye based inks are very cheap to produce, and tend to yield shallow colours that fade over the span of a few months. In line with our promise of quality, we only print with Lucia Pro inks, which uses microencapsulated pigment inks combined with a Chroma Optimizer for enhanced gloss uniformity and improved scratch resistance.
Just as important as the type of ink used, the medium (or paper) used is crucial in ensuring the highest quality prints possible.The paper we use is Canon’s flagship photo paper, and comes with a studio finish that provides luxurious texture, high color reproduction and high robustness to deliver superior photo vividness. According to Canon, when used with ChromaLife inks, our professional art prints can last for over 200 years (source). While we haven’t been able to test the 200-year lifespan of our prints, we are able to guarantee that they will outlast our competitors, and will provide you and your loved ones with beautiful art for years to come.
Lastly, a modern specialty printer is what brings all the above elements together in order to produce a beautiful, art gallery quality giclee print. We use two professionally calibrated Canon ProRes printers, which cost more per unit than my first car. Due to the high quality that we require from our machines, we rotate our printers daily, so as to avoid wearing down the ink nozzles quickly, which can result in low quality prints. These printers are about the size of a small couch, and are able to hold up to 12 different ink cartridges, allowing for extremely detailed gradation and a wide color gamut, ultimately producing an art gallery ready print for your to frame in your home or office.
What this means for you
At the end of the day, all those technical details really only mean one thing: that your True North Art Print is guaranteed to be of the highest possible quality. We made the very conscious choice not to skimp on our raw materials, and we believe that the quality of our final prints are a beautiful testament to that decision.