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Hello there, Art Aficionados,

Today we’ll talk about Fine Art Prints. It's confusing, I know. You keep hearing terms like art prints, giclee and limited editions but what exactly does that even mean? Are they unique, original, collectible?

Are there different types of Fine Art Prints and what are they?

First things first. Printing is and has always been a technique of creating images which can be transferred onto other surfaces multiple times. In the art world these are referred to as impressions, rather than copies.

If a series of identical prints are created, they are referred to as print editions. If only one impression is created or if there are multiple impressions but they represent distinctly different artworks, because of the use of colours, for example, they are referred to as monoprints and are therefore considered both original and unique works of art. 

In fact, historically all art prints were considered to be original art, because the artwork was designed with the intention of being reproduced on paper in the first place. Today this is no longer the case.

Traditional and Contemporary Printing techniques

Printmaking is an ancient art that has never gone out of style. In fact, print art has made a huge resurgence in recent years. The popularity of contemporary fine art prints is due in part to the wide variety of sizes and mediums that are available at an affordable price to both artists and printers today and the easy access to new digital technologies. 

The term “fine art” has been typically reserved for works of art such as paintings, sculptures and a traditional printing techniques, such as Etchings and Engraving, Woodblock printing, Screen printing and Lithography.

For a brief summary of traditional printing techniques, check out this article.

Today, the definition of fine art has expanded to include everything from photography, installations and digital art to limited and even open edition Giclee prints, created by contemporary artists (and their skilled printing studios), and sold through reputable art galleries and art dealers.

Enter Giclée Printing - the gold standard for reproducing digital artwork.

Giclée, which is French for "to spray" (pronounced zhee-clay) is a fine art printing process that uses high-resolution inkjet printers to reproduce digital images of paintings, photographs, and digital art on paper or canvas. Giclée printing, which originated in France in the 1980′s, is incredibly accurate and can produce prints that are very close to the original artwork, without any loss of detail.

Giclée printers use archival quality papers and pigment inks to ensure the longevity and lightfastness of the print. These prints are often referred to as museum quality fine art giclee prints and are guaranteed to last for 200 year under museum conditions.

As the technology advances it becomes possible to produce museum quality prints on new and exciting surfaces, like metal, plastics or wood and even printing the texture of an artwork in 3D. However due to the cost and complexity of the printing process, this is rarely done.

Is my Fine Art Giclée Print an original or a Collectible Reproduction?

This is quite a complex question. Since ‘Giclée’ refers to the printing technology, rather than the resulting artwork itself, if the prints are originals or reproductions depends on the digital artwork (digital image) which is being printed.

In the case of a digital photograph being reproduced, for example, the resulting print would be considered an original fine art print. This is because the photograph was shot on a digital camera with the intention to be printed. In this case photographing and printing is the process of creation, and the resulting print is the intended artwork.

If however a photograph, which has been shot and developed traditionally, is then scanned and then reproduced again from the newly created scan without significant changes in colour or style, then it would be considered a copy of the original, which already as an artwork.

The same logic applies to any kind of digital art, i.e. any artwork which was created digitally in full or in part, and therefore the only way to produce it as a physical object is to print it, will be an original piece.

On the other hand, the reproduction of an artwork, like a painting or a drawing, is a replica. The resulting art print may look identical, or as close as possible, to the original artwork but it is not the original artwork. However, when printed in limited editions, these art prints are highly collectible, making them a very good investment for collectors and the general public alike.

The price of the prints depends predominantly on the price and career stage of the artist, ranging from £30 for a small print by an unknown artist to thousands of pounds for the prints of artists like Damian Hirst. The size of the print edition, i.e. the total number of the impressions, is also a determining factor. A print edition of 90 would be more valuable than a print edition of 900.

It is therefore safe to say that like with any other art form, as the price of an artist increases, so will the price of their giclée prints.

Giclée prints are often the choice of budding art collectors, providing an affordable first step towards developing one’s art collection. 

Read more about how Fine Art Giclee prints are made and how to look after yours to make sure it lasts.


Where to buy Fine Art  Prints online?

A framed fine art limited edition giclee print


Lantern Art Gallery offers a selection of original and reproduction fine art giclee prints in both limited and open editions.

If you like one of artworks, but are unsure if it is the right choice for you, please feel free to contact us with any questions. 

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