The word giclée, pronounced zhee-klay, was originally coined in 1991 by print maker Jack Duganne. He wanted a name for the new type of prints they were producing on the IRIS printer, a large-format, high-resolution industrial pre-press proofing inkjet printer that had been adapted for fine-art printing. He was specifically looking for a word that would not have the negative connotations of “inkjet” or “computer generated”. It is based on the French word gicleur, which means “nozzle” (the verb form gicler means “to squirt, spurt, or spray”).
Beside its original association with IRIS prints, the word giclée has come to be associated with other types of inkjet printing including processes that use fade-resistant, archival inks (pigment-based, as well as newer solvent-based inks), and archival substrates primarily produced on Epson, HP and other large-format printers.
The high-quality printers have multiple cartridges for variations of each color this increases the apparent resolution and color gamut and allows smoother gradient transitions. In the early days of inkjet printing, the large droplets and low resolution made inkjet prints significantly inferior to other forms of printing, but today’s inkjets produce extremely high quality prints using microscopic droplets and supplementary ink colors, producing superior color fidelity.
A wide variety of substrates is available, including various textures and finishes such as matte photo paper, watercolor paper, cotton canvas, or artist textured vinyl.