Home Is Where The Art Is

If you are an artist, a lover of art then I hope that I can inspire you to do what you love.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Gicleé Print Versus Original Image

Mark Harris
I wish more readers had got involved in the great 'pricing art debate' but only one bite. I think it is a really good topic for artists to debate as we are now living in very different times creatively. There are many galleries solely selling high end reproductions. For fairly high end prices considering the fact that they are not originals.

I have my own feeling about that as I have said before. It stems largely from the point of view that I am a printmaker and I am not overly keen on the same kind of labelling being used on gicleé prints.

I know that many artists are going down that route in order to make some cash. I am just not sure what it means for the future of galleries. Would you spend £600 on the original or £60 - £100 for a gicleé print?

On one hand one image can make you several hundred pounds sold as prints. At the cost of the uniqueness of one off that was the original piece. Has it become a means of survival?

I have my foot so firmly in both camps owning a gallery and being an artist. I want people to invest in originals for both the good of my gallery and the artists I show.

The other truth is that I have never sold a gicleé print at the gallery, that is not say that I haven't had them for sale because I have. How can the impact of a 6ft canvas be condensed into an A3 gicleé print? I am not convinced that it can be.

Scale surely is an integral part of the work? If not why not work on A3 from the start? Produce smaller more saleable works. I am once again playing the Devils Advocate. These are all things that I have to think about both as an artist and a gallery owner.

Have a think about it and then feel free to get in touch to continue the discussion.

The Mark Harris Exhibition opens today and it is a real eye catcher. I love the way his work fills the space. I have already got my favourites. I could quite happily live with most of them. I can't imagine smaller versions of them. You have to see them in the flesh to get a real feel for them.

The gallery is open 6 days a week and from 11.00 - 5.00 so if you are in Swanage please come along and show your support for both an emergent artist and the gallery.

For any of you that have been adversely affected by the crazy weather we have been having I hope that you are able to get yourselves sorted today in this small window of weather normality we are experiencing.


  1. I'm a printmaker too and I dislike the term giclee intensely. It is I think a marketing term to disguise what is being sold, which is a reproduction. However the use of the term seems to have changed. When I first came across it, it meant an archival quality ink jet, probably using pigment inks as opposed to a print out form a standard office machine. That use seemed more honest to me. As I understand it, the term came into use when Graham Nash (of Crosby Stills etc) was looking for a way to print his photographs. I think he wanted to call them 'digigraphs' in a coinage based on 'serigraph' or silk screen. It is written up here:

    I'm biased however, since I came to 'hand pulled' printmaking via digital prints, and I have to use the same technical process to make my digital prints. I can no longer call them giclee because I keep getting asked about the original. All the marketing hype by galleries selling repros as if they were original works of art has muddied the waters enormously. I now just call them digital prints but I still get the questions. Maybe I should start using 'digigraph'...

    Generally I sell my digital prints as open editions too, but that also confuses people! What do you think about the idea of limited editions for digital prints (in my usage) or limited edition giclee (meaning reproductions)

  2. Interesting debate. Whilst I agree that to compact a 6ft canvas down to a A3 copy does not have the same impact/quality etc etc. However, should the artist paint to the size of the average wall space? Most properties will not accommodate huge canvasses so should the person painting take this into account before embarking on their masterpiece? There are many many copies of well known artworks, of varying sizes on sale. Surely if I want a picture on my wall as I appreciate and enjoy it and cannot afford the original- should it be impossible? do reproductions add value to the original, or do they devalue the original? As a full time artist, reproductions have allowed me to continue working as a full time artist. Some people do not like prints, and prefer to own originals, others just want to enjoy the image so are happy to purchase a copy.

  3. I know that selling my limited edition prints enables me to have that bit more income which means I am more likely to cover my overall painting and framing costs. It also means that someone who may otherwise not have budgeted for a painting feels that they can buy something that they like without breaking the bank. Win win.

  4. I think you are responding to a different question. If you want to make reproductions and have a market fine. That is your choice (but obviously not mine). My questions though are about terminology (giclee vs reproduction) and the, to me misleading, practice of selling ink jet copies in limited editions as if they were original works of art.

    Calling them just prints is also misleading I think. It is understandable in casual speech, but when selling I think we need to be more careful. If I sold a watercolour as an oil painting that would obviously be miss-selling. It seems to be acceptable though to call a reproduction a print without any qualification. I sell collagraph prints, or monotype prints or silk screen prints. You need the qualifier to make sense of what is being sold. Calling a reproduction a print, without the qualifier is just inaccurate and misleading. All reproductions are prints, but not all prints are reproductions. This is something that impinges on printmakers much more than painters off course, but I would like to think that fellow artists shared our concerns.

  5. Prints sold as art? Digital art? It's all quite complicated. I love painting. All my paintings are lessons. Lessons in the application of paint. Lessons in understanding another human being. A lesson in love. Lessons for myself and for other painters. The originals are the art, my art. Reproductions are a bit likeggoing on holiday and taking photos. They are remembrances of the experience not the real thing. If people are happy to buy snapshots of my work, become tourists to my experience then they are most welcome bit that is not the art...

  6. It really was a hot topic after all. I have to say all of you have raised some really good points.
    As a printmaker I am not too happy about the labelling as Ian says. It does confuse people.
    I also understand how selling prints can bolster an artists finances. I think Rob summed it up perfectly. I am not sure that anyone should work to a scale in order to sell work though. I believe you should just work in a way that you are driven to. I cannot believe any of the late greats thought about it.

  7. As a photographer and digital artist almost all my work is produced as giclee prints. Some are sold as originals complete with all licencing and copyrights, others sold as limited editions, and others sold as open-ended editions. Perhaps digital photography isn't taken as seriously by some artists and galleries as it should be, but with the introduction of more and more new technology into art attitudes are going to have to change...