What's the difference between a Giclée, Lithograph, and Screenprint?
Simply put, giclée, lithograph, and screenprint are terms used to describe the method of printing used, each of which results in prints with somewhat distinguishable characteristics.
Giclée (pronounced “zhee-clay”) is considered the most precise, sophisticated and highest quality printing method available for fine art reproduction. Derived from the French verb gicler, meaning “to spray,” the term giclée refers to the use of state-of-the-art, large format ink-jet printers, which literally spray microscopic jets of ink directly onto the paper or canvas. Unlike lithography or other mass quantity printing processes, giclées are produced slowly and deliberately, and generally utilize a broader spectrum of archival pigment based inks to provide superior color accuracy, contrast, and depth. We typically offer giclée prints on heavyweight fine art cotton rag and photo papers, as well as cotton canvas, which is then finished with a durable clear coat of protective varnish, stretched over a wooden frame, and finished in a contemporary decorative float frame.
The traditional method of lithograph printing, known as ‘stone lithography’ originated over 200 years ago, as a process based on the simple scientific principle that oils and water do not mix. Using the traditional method, an artist’s work would first be rendered directly onto a smooth stone or metal plate using oil and water based materials designed to either attract and repel ink, resulting in a form of stamp which could then be used to transfer the image onto another medium. Today, lithograph prints are produced using the same theories and techniques, but with modern technology in a process known as “offset lithography.” To prepare a lithograph print, an image is digitally separated into four colors - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (commonly abbreviated as CMYK). Unlike giclée printing, which applies several colors of ink to the paper or canvas in one pass, with offset lithography each of the four colors is applied one at a time, using a different lithographic printing plate for each color. These printing plates have non-image areas that absorb and are kept wet with water. The inked area of each plate is transferred first to a large rubber cylinder, and then rolled or ‘stamped’ onto the paper. During this process, the ink, which is oil-based, is rejected by the non-image areas and adheres to the image areas. When all four colors are layered onto the paper in proper registration, they combine to create the final image. The lithograph prints offered in our collections, including those from Alex Ross Art, are generally produced on bright white archival economy papers, with a smooth to the touch finish.
Screen printing is a complex, and labor intensive stencil-based method of printing. It requires an expert level of craftsmanship, trained creative eye, and insightful application of color theory, making it a highly respected artform in and of itself. At its core, the process involves forcing ink through a mesh screen onto paper or another substrate. To prepare artwork for screen printing, the image must first be manually separated into individual color layers. Using a light-sensitive photo emulsion and film transparencies containing the image information, each color layer is ‘burned’ into a unique mesh screen. This creates a form of stencil which will block ink from passing through, except in the areas where it should go to form the printed image. Traditionally these screens were made of silk (hence the alternative often-used term ‘silkscreen’), but today they are most often made of synthetic materials, stretched tightly across a metal or wooden frame. Each screenprint is created by applying the color layers one by one, through a process of physically pushing ink through each of the screens and allowing them to dry between passes, ultimately combining to build the final image. Screen printing produces vibrant colors that are hard to replicate by other printing techniques, and is wonderful way to apply special effects such as metallics or glow-in-the-dark inks. Our screenprints are typically printed on 100# French papers, designed specifically for high-end collectible art posters.
What is an HD Aluminum print?
HD (or High Definition) Aluminum prints feature a brilliant glass-like glossy surface, unsurpassed color vibrancy, and are both durable and easy-to-clean, setting them apart from all other traditional print mediums. To create HD Aluminum prints, we start with ChromaLuxe aluminum metal panels, the industry standard for professional photographers and artists, and use a process known as dye-sublimation, which infuses dyes directly onto the metal panels via heat transfer. First, the artwork is printed onto a transfer paper via inkjet technology, similar to giclée printing. The transfer paper is then adhered to a sheet of the pre-treated aluminum. Finally, it is put into a press where it is subjected to extreme heat and pressure. The dyes from the transfer paper turn into a gas, are pressed into the surface of the metal, then solidify into the treated aluminum. Each press takes between 3-10 minutes per print. Once out of the press, the aluminum cools and the dyes are permanently infused beneath the surface of the metal substrate. The final product is scratch, fade, fire, and water-resistant, and can be cleaned with all-purpose household cleaners and microfiber cloth, allowing your museum-quality print to retain its shine with minimum hassle. To complete the presentation, our HD Aluminum prints come finished with an elegant contemporary black float frame for a beautiful out of the box display ready to hang on your wall.
What is hand-deckled paper?
The term 'hand-deckled' describes a type of finished edge on paper prints which is used for artistic effect. For a print to be hand-deckled, it is carefully scored (or creased) and then torn by hand along each of the borders, giving the edges of the paper a rough, organic look, as opposed to the clean straight edge of a print that is trimmed with a blade.
What do you mean when you say prints are archival?
Certified archival inks, canvas, and papers have been lab tested and are guaranteed to last 100+ years when cared for appropriately. The archival rating for HD Aluminum prints is 65+ years, when displayed indoors and kept out of direct sunlight. Archival mats and framing materials (foam backing board, tape) are acid-free (PH-neutral) and designed to prevent bleed, staining or yellowing for optimal conservation of paper fine art prints.
How can I verify that my prints are authentic?
To guarantee authenticity as part of a unique limited edition, our prints are stamped or embossed, and in some cases may include a Certificate of Authenticity. See each product page for specific details that will help verify authenticity.
What is an authorized, automated artist’s signature?
In cases where it is impossible to arrange for artists to sign their prints by hand, we elect to include an authorized, automated replica of the artist’s signature in its place, to represent the artist's participation and endorsement of the final product. Authorized, automated signatures are created from a digitized scan of the artist’s original authentic signature, with express permission. The automated signatures are reproduced one at a time by a manually operated machine, which physically holds a pencil or other writing utensil and imitates the natural motion of the signature over each print.
What does Limited Edition mean?
Limited edition prints are ‘limited’ in the sense that only a certain predefined number of total prints will be released, after which they will never be reprinted. Each limited edition print is numbered by hand, signifying its unique identity as part of that finite quantity. That means once these prints are gone, it’s forever!
Are Limited Edition prints a good investment?
Typically limited edition prints retain or increase in value over time, however this depends on several factors such as the rarity, demand and popularity of the work. We always recommend investing in art you love regardless of perceived value in the collector marketplace.
What is a Printer’s Proof?
Printer’s Proofs (or PPs) are sample prints created for the purpose of checking quality prior to final production of a limited edition. There are typically only a small quantity of Printer’s Proofs produced for each edition, which are numbered and marked as PPs. At this time, Sideshow does not sell Printer’s Proofs, but on rare occasions we may offer them as giveaway prizes.
What is an Artist Proof?
Artist Proofs (or APs) are created in exactly the same way as a Limited Edition prints, but are considered as a separate numbered edition specifically for the artist’s personal ownership and archives. AP edition sizes typically do not exceed 10% of the Limited Edition. At this time, Sideshow does not sell Artist’s Proofs, however in some cases APs may be offered for sale directly from artists, and can be highly sought after by collectors for their rarity.
How will my prints be shipped to me?
Unframed prints are carefully wrapped in acid-free tissue, sealed in a protective plastic sleeve, then expertly rolled by hand and shipped in a sturdy kraft tube. Framed prints are padded and sealed in protective plastic with thick bubble wrap and sturdy cardboard corner protectors, before being inserted in specialty shipper boxes.
How should I care for my prints?
When purchasing an unframed print, we recommend carefully removing it from the tube as soon as possible, and either framing it right away or storing it flat in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated space, such as inside a metal flat file, archival box or rigid folder. If stacking multiple prints, we recommend layering sheets of smooth acid-free tissue in between them to protect from scratches and scuffs. If you need to handle your unframed prints, make sure to always work with clean, dry hands or cotton gloves, and be cautious to avoid touching the printed image. Lift the print gently by holding opposite corners to avoid creases and dents. Even with archival prints, it is best practice to avoid exposure to heat, humidity, direct sunlight or long exposure to bright artificial lights, as it will accelerate the natural ageing process. We also highly suggest you consider rotating out the framed prints you have on display as a wonderful way to maximize enjoyment and extend the overall longevity of your collection.
Help! My print arrived damaged, what should I do?
Not to worry! We take every precaution to prevent damages in transit, but in the case that it happens please contact our Customer Support within 30 days and we will work with you to find a solution. Be sure to include your order number and a brief summary of the issue in the email, as well as photos of the damaged item.