Type of Prints

Types of art prints available  • Lithograph   • Giclee  • Secondary Market Prints   –   All are explained below.

• What is a lithograph?

A lithograph is a type of printing process during which original works of art can be printed and reproduced; the final product is also known as a lithograph, which is an authorized copy of an original work created by an artist or other skilled craftsmen. The printing process for creating lithographs is different from other traditional methods, mainly because it does not require the print-maker to first etch the image into metal plates. Prints can be made of original works of art, first created on the stone table or metal plate, or images from paintings or drawings can be duplicated with this method. If the print quality of a lithograph is excellent and the production numbers are low, it may have significant value in the art world.

The Printing Process

Perhaps the biggest advantage of lithography is that it does not require the printmaker to etch an image into metal plates, as some other reproduction methods do; neither is it necessary to physically carve out the image on blocks of wood or other soft material. Instead, an artist uses a set of greasy crayons or pencils to draw a mirrored image of the artwork, usually onto a smooth stone tablet or metal plate. While this can take less time than etching the image into metal, it is still the most time-consuming part of lithography. If the final image has multiple colors, it may be necessary to make separate stones or plates for each.

After the image has been recreated to the satisfaction of the original artist or other authority, it is ready to be turned into a piece of art. To make a hand lithograph, the drawing is first treated with a chemical to set the image. Lithography hinges on the principle that oil and water cannot mix; based on this principle, an oil-based variety of ink is applied directly to the drawing, and the ink immediately bonds with the equally greasy crayon lines. Water is then wiped onto the unpainted areas to discourage the ink from smearing. A sheet of paper, preferably one with a high cotton content, is then placed over the entire plate.


The inked stone or plate and the paper are placed in a press and light pressure is used to transfer some of the ink. If the original image was a monochrome pen and ink drawing, this would be the only press run necessary; color lithographs of an elaborate Van Gogh painting, however, might require several different runs to produce each different color ink. The same paper would be placed precisely over the inked plates, eventually creating a detailed image.

• What is a Giclée?

Commonly used Giclée terms

From the French verb “to spray”, the word Giclée (zhee-clay) is used to describe a digital fine art printmaking process. Giclée prints are created using a high-resolution inkjet printer. Images or paintings are carefully scanned and reproduced using stable pigment-based inks.

Giclée are printed on a variety of substrates or mediums, the most common being watercolour paper or canvas. Image permanence is a concern to artists and collectors, the Giclée process gives fade & color shift resistance of better than 125 years.

Fine art reproduction has been revolutionized with the Giclée printing process. Giclée are digital reproductions of original artwork. Paper or canvas is individually mounted onto a drum which rotates during printing. As the drum spins a fine stream of ink droplets spray onto the chosen archival substrate. Since no screens are used in Giclée printing, the prints have a higher resolution than lithographs and the dynamic color range is greater than serigraphy.


What is digital printmaking?

Digital printmaking utilizes computers to precisely control specialized digital printers. Most fine art printmakers use ink jet printers that apply ink to a variety of media, primarily high-quality watercolor papers and canvas. The digital printmaking process is capable of producing exceptional results for both original printmakers and for the reproduction of original works of art; because of its extended color gamut and continuous tone characteristics, digital printmaking is considered a superior technology for printing all forms of art including photography.


How long will my prints last?

Under normal lighting conditions, EnduraChrome archival inks last at least 75 years on watercolor paper. Although pigmented inks last longer, they cannot be used with the high resolution ink jet heads which provide greater detail in prints, nor do they offer the wide color gamut of the EnduraChrome inks. Endurachrome archival ink, 25 year fade resistance on Canvas, 75 year on Watercolor paper.


How do I care for my Giclée print?

You can extend the life expectancy of a Giclée art prints by not hanging them in direct sunlight or in rooms with excessive moisture. Care for them as you would any fine artwork on paper and they will reward you with many years of pleasure. Inks are water-soluble – for protection and increased ink stability, you may wish to coat prints with a UV lacquer spray which is readily available at arts and crafts supply stores.


How does a Giclée print differ from an Iris print?

Giclée prints are sometimes referred to as Iris prints, but the piggybacking of terms can be confusing – and misleading. Iris prints usually refer to an earlier process developed for posters and proofs. Iris and Roland Giclée represent the evolution of the process used for making Iris prints to the level of fine art, with a more refined system for fine-tuning colors and inks that, on average, resist fading 10 times longer than those used in Iris prints. A good analogy: Giclée is to Iris prints what serigraphs are to screen prints.


How do Giclée prints differ from lithographs and serigraphs?

Offset lithographs are created by taking a continuous tone image and processing it through a screen. The result is an image created with a series of dots, each one proportional in size to the density of the original at the location of that dot. The human eye is consequently “tricked” into seeing something that approximates a continuous tone image. Most printed material such as newspapers and magazines are printed with this process.

Serigraphs are really screen prints. These prints are made by creating a set of screens, each representing one color. Ink is then squeegeed through the screen and onto the media. For fine art reproduction purposes, the number of screens required to approximate the tonal qualities of the original are typically from 20 to more than 100. The larger the number of screens, the closer a serigraph can appear to be continuous tone and the more expensive it is to produce.

Giclée prints have many advantages over both the offset lithograph and the serigraph. The color available for Giclée processing is limited only by the color gamut of the inks themselves. Therefore, literally millions of colors are available and the limitation imposed by the screening process does not exist.

The Giclée process uses such small dots and so many of them that they are not discernible to the eye. A Giclée print is essentially a continuous tone print showing every color and tonal nuance.

Giclée are printed on beautiful fine art papers, and the result is a print befitting the definition of fine art in every way.


Commonly used Giclée terms:

Edition Size: The total number of Giclée printed, or pulled, of one particular image. Separate edition sizes are recorded for the signed and numbered Giclée, artist’s proofs and printer’s proofs.

Limited-Edition: A reproduction of an original work of art that is signed and sequentially numbered by the artist. The total number of Giclée is fixed or limited by the artist or the publisher.

Open-Edition: A reproduction of an original work of art that is sometimes signed by the artist. The number of Giclée published is not predetermined.

Signed and Numbered: Limited-edition Giclée that have been signed and sequentially numbered by the artist. The artist’s signature is usually found in one of the lower corners of the Giclée and is accompanied by a number that looks like a fraction; the top number indicates the number of the Giclée and the bottom number indicates the total number of Giclée in the edition.


• What is Secondary Market ?

Secondary market prints are prints that are sold out by the publisher and are usually sold out by a gallery, or have risen significantly in price since being sold out by the publisher. Once a limited edition lithograph print is designated as sold out, the publisher, dealers, or collectors may sell one of their prints on the secondary market to a collector who desires to own the print. Thus, the secondary market is the resale of a print by a c collector after the print is designated as sold out.