Whats in a Name The Story of Gicle

One thing that became quickly apparent to the early digital pioneers was the lack of a proper name to describe the prints they were making. By the close of the 1980s, IRIS printers were installed all over the world and spinning off full-color proofs in commercial printing plants and pre-press shops. These prints were used to check color and get client approvals before starting the main print run. They definitely were not meant to last or to be displayed on anyone's walls. Most people called them "IRIS prints," or "IRIS proofs," or, more simply, "IRISes."

However, this wasn't good enough for the new digital printmakers like Maryann Doe of Harvest Productions and Jack Duganne, who was the first printmaker (after David Coons) at Nash Editions. They wanted to draw a distinction between the beautiful prints they were laboring over and the quickie proofs the commercial printers were cranking out. Just like artist Robert Rauschenberg did when he came up with the term "combines" for his new assemblage art, they needed a new label, or, in marketing terms, a "brand identity." The makers of digital art needed a word of their own.

And, in 1991, they got it. Duganne had to come up with a print-medium description for a mailer announcing California artist Diane Bartz' upcoming show (see Figure 1.5). He wanted to stay away from words like "computer" or "digital" because of the negative connotations the art world attached to the new medium. Taking a cue from the French word for inkjet (jetd'encre), Duganne opened his pocket Larousse and searched for a word that was generic enough to cover most inkjet technologies at the time and hopefully into the future. He focused on the nozzle, which most printers used. In French, that was le gicleur. What inkjet nozzles do is spray ink, so looking up French verbs for "to spray," he found gicler, which literally means "to squirt, spurt, or spray." The feminine noun version of the verb is (la) giclée, (pronounced "zhee-clay") or "that which is sprayed or squirted." An industry moniker was born.

However, the controversy started immediately. Graham Nash and Mac Holbert had come up with digigraph, which was close to "serigraph" and "photograph." The photographers liked that. But, the artists and printmakers doing reproductions had adopted giclée, and the term soon became a synonym for "an art print made on an IRIS inkjet printer."

Today, giclée has become established with traditional media artists and some photographers. But, many photographers and other digital artists have not accepted it, using, instead, labels such as "inkjet print," "pigment print," or "(substitute the name of your print process) print."

For many artists, the debate over giclée continues. Some object to its suggestive, French slang meaning ("spurt"). Others believe it is still too closely linked to the IRIS printer or to the reproduction market. And some feel that it is just too pretentious. But, for many, the term giclée has become part of the printmaking landscape, a generic word, like Kleenex, that has evolved into a broader term that describes any high-quality, digitally produced, fine-art print.

Bartz Studios is pleased to announce a new and exciting process by which the work of Diane Bartz wilt be reproduced in a strictly limited edition of less than 50 pieces. Some of our special paintings will be recreated in this new medium through a totally revolutionary digital process called Glcle6 by Nash Editions. Gicle£ is a French term describing the spraying of ink onto paper. Mash Editions uses the finest archival our-1

Figure 1.5 From the Bartz Studio newsletter for ArtExpo California, fall 1991. This is the first known use of the word giciee in print.

Courtesy ofDiane Ciapp Bartz/http://bartz.com/studio

One problem, of course, is that when a term becomes too broad, it loses its ability to describe a specific thing. At that point, it stops being a good marketing label—and make no mistake about it, giclée is a marketing term. When everything is a giclée, people become confused, and the process starts all over again with new labels.

This is exactly what happened when a new group formed in 2001—the Giclée Printers Association (GPA)—and came up with its own standards and trademarked term: Tru Giclée. The GPA is concerned with reproduction printing only, and its printmaker members must meet nine standards or principles in order for them (and their customers) to display the Tru Giclée logo.

In 2003, recognizing that only a small number of printmakers could meet the requirements of Tru Giclée, the GPA instituted a lower-threshold standard, Tru Décor, which applies to the much larger decor-art market.

Others have also jumped on the giclée bandwagon with such variations as Platinum Giclée (Jonathan Penney's term for his black-and-white printmaking process), Canvas Photo Giclée (a California photo printmaking shop), and Heritage Giclée (Staples Fine Art's trademarked term for their brand of giclée printmaking).

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Giclée logos from (left) the Giclée Printers Association and (right) Staples Fine Art. Courtesy of Giclée Printers Association (www.gpa.bz) and Staples Fine Art

giclée (zhee-clay) n. 1. A type of digital fine-art print. 2. Most often associated with reproductions; a giclée is a multiple print or exact copy of an original work of art that was created by conventional means (painting, drawing, and so on) and then reproduced digitally, typically via inkjet printing. First use in this context by Jack Duganne in 1991, Los Angeles, California

State of the Art: The Digital Revolution

It's been estimated by research company IDC that more than 15 billion digital images will be printed in the U.S. by 2005 and according to research firm I.T. Strategies, that the digital fine-art print market is growing at an astonishing rate of 27 percent annually, faster than the art market as a whole. Digital printing, although only a dozen or so years old, is enabling artists and photographers around the world to create and produce their work in ways never thought possible before: on-demand, inexpensively, and with superb and consistent quality.

The industry and the technology are still embryonic; there is a lot of change and evolution yet to come. We're still only in the early stages of this amazing story. And glimpses of what is on the horizon show a future that is truly astounding. "Smart inks," wireless printing, Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) technology, three-dimensional imaging, more colors, better software, more artist control—we all have a lot to look forward to. Or, as digital artist Bonny Lhotka puts it, "I believe this is the most exciting time to be an artist."

Now that we've discovered and taken in a bird's-eye view of the digital landscape, it's time to explore the essential, start-up information you'll need before you start printing.

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