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Artwork Prints Are Not All The Same

Limited Edition Prints
Limited Edition Prints can be produced using several methods including: Iris Giclée, Archival Pigment Prints, and Monotypes.

Jackson Pollock
"The Printmaker" by Roger Bacharach
Painting of the artist pulling a monotype on a Star Press.

Iris Giclée Printing
Giclée (pronounced "zhee-clay") is an invented name (i.e. a neologism) for the process of making fine art prints from a digital source using ink-jet printing. The word is derived from the French language word "le gicleur" meaning "nozzle", or more specifically "gicler" meaning "to squirt, spurt, or spray".

The term, “giclée” was coined in 1991 by Jack Duganne, a printmaker working in the field, to represent any inkjet-based digital print used as fine art. The intent of that name was to distinguish commonly known industrial "Iris proofs" from the type of fine art prints artists were producing on those same types of printers.

The name was originally applied to fine art prints created on Iris printers in a process invented in the early 1990s but has since come to mean any high quality ink-jet print and is often used in galleries and print shops to denote such prints.

Iris printers use a continuous flow ink system to produce continuous-tone output on various materials, including paper, canvas, silk, linen and other textiles. Unlike most ink jet printers which fire drops only when needed, the Iris printers’ four 1 micrometer glass jets flow continuously under high pressure. Drops that are not needed to form the image are deflected electrostatically into a waste system.

Demuth Tobacco Shop
"Japanese Sea Nettle (Jellyfish),"
a tissue paper collage by Roger
Bacharach, is also available as
an Iris Giclée print.
Because no screens are used, the iris giclée prints have a higher apparent resolution than lithographs and display a full color spectrum, making it an ideal medium for exceptionally accurate reproduction, including visible brush strokes.

Music Meets Art
An early developer of the technology in the fine art field was Graham Nash of the band Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Nash was introduced to using Iris printers for photo reproduction when the original negatives to some of his photographs were lost in shipment.

Pleased with the results of scanning contact sheets of the photos and outputting them to an Iris printer, Nash decided to develop further methods to use the printer to make continuous tone prints. With a team of artists and photographers, Nash modified an IRIS 3047 and developed a method to print high-quality black-and-white photographs on various paper substrates.

Archival Pigment Prints
Archival pigment printing refers to editions of images printed on a digital printer instead of a traditional printing press. Using fade-resistant "archival" inks and papers, high-quality digital prints are reproduced from very high-resolution data files with high-precision professional printers.

Demuth Tobacco Shop
"Demuth Tobacco Shop,"
an oil painting by Roger Bacharach,
is also available as a pigment print.
While Iris giclée prints are created using four ink colors, pigment digital prints use from four to eight colors. Pigment prints can be produced on coated and uncoated paper surfaces, including canvas. The inks are applied in heavy layers to produce more brilliant color and subtleties.

While the layering could be viewed as an advantage for pigment prints, it may also be a liability. The heavy application of ink means a pigment-based print can be subject to chipping.

Accurate color reproduction and the type of ink used are keys to distinguishing high quality from low quality digital prints. Archival pigment ink is a finely ground, particulate substance which, when mixed or ground into a liquid does not dissolve, but remains dispersed or suspended in the liquid.

A pigment, such as red iron oxide (rust) is simply an oxidized form of iron. One could leave iron, lead, or gold in the sun for a million years and they would never change color or change into another substance. In contrast, man-made synthetic and vegetable water-soluble dyes can fade rapidly, often within one to six months.

While Iris giclées and pigment digital prints are created with printers, monotypes are produced on a printing press.

The Sheid Chair, ghost, by Roger Bacharach
"Mrs. Sheid's Chair (ghost),"
a monotype by Roger Bacharach,
is an example of a second print
from the original monotype plate.
Monotyping is a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. The surface, or matrix, was historically a copper etching plate, but in contemporary work it can vary from zinc or glass to acrylic glass. The image is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by pressing the two together, usually using a printing press.

The monotype process was invented by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1609-64), an Italian painter and etcher who was also the first artist to produce brushed sketches intended as finished and final works of art. He is the only Italian to have invented a printmaking technique. He began to make monotypes in the 1640s, normally working from black to white, and produced over twenty surviving ones. Few other artists used the technique until Degas, who made several, often working on them further after printing. In the twentieth century the technique became more popular.

Monotypes are very expressionistic by the nature of the process. The painting "The Printmaker" is a painting of the artist pulling a monotype on a Star Press.

Unlike monoprinting, monotyping produces a unique print, or monotype, because most of the ink is removed during the initial pressing. Although subsequent re-printings are sometimes possible, they differ greatly from the first print and are generally considered inferior. A second print from the original plate is called a "ghost print" or "cognate." Stencils, watercolor, solvents, brushes, and other tools are occasionally used to embellish a monotype print. Monotypes are often spontaneously executed and with no previous sketch.




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