The Inkjets Dominated

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A few galleries still call them “giclée,” which is a neologism derived from a French word meaning “nozzle” or “squirt,” and, as we all now know, also French vulgar slang for male ejaculation.

via The Online Photographer: A Note from Photo LA.

There Are 7 Comments On This Article.

  1. I always hated that “giclee” is really just an ink jet print and people think it’s some sort of special photographic process, it’s not! Now I dislike it even more!

    • @Kimberly Davis, I think this sums it up.
      pre·ten·tious/priˈtenCHəs/
      Adjective: Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.

  2. I totally agree with Kimberly. I have hated that term from the moment I first saw it. It is purposely pretentious and tries to confuse. I was not aware of the slang expression – that is ‘icing on the cake.’ Great bit of info that I will use from now on when debating the term. I am glad to see that it generally is not used museums, galleries, and reputable and established professionals.

  3. The giclee term came from a time when most inkjet printers were consumer items with poor resolution and color fidelity. Giclee was usually done on something like an IRIS and later, the more stable epson pigment printers. It is kind of pretentious, but understandable from a marketing standpoint in those early days.

    Today I see the term ‘digital print’ more than inkjet still and occasionally you’ll still see IRIS prints called IRIS due to the rarity of them. They were really expensive to make.

  4. As Craig was saying, it’s easy to forget that even when I, who is quite young, went through art school undergrad, “inkjet” prints (even from more expensive “photo” printers) were for the most part, ugly, un-archival, and at best novel and at worst pathetic in comparison to chemical darkroom prints — Especially in black and white.

    Certain labs such as Singer Editions where capable of producing fantastic prints (I think they were using IRIS printers), as were certain strange, now-anacronistic mods of other printers like cabron-quad-tone retrofits. But cameras were like 2 MP etc.

    I always laughed at how the gallery world picked up using the sexually implicit slang term “giclee” (apparently it got it’s start being tossed around in a very sarcastic way by engineers who were developing the technology on internet mailing lists).

    I personally became much more invested in finding a correct term when I started to see two things happening. First off I started to become allergic to the chemistry after running darkrooms for a decade, and second, that digital color was very clearly becoming a much more controllable, archival and in general a better option for photographers (same with black and white with the new papers in the last two or three years!)

    I’ve always gone with the phrase “archival inkjet print” when I’ve shown or curated shows. Seems straight forward and honest.

  5. Never liked Giclee, except to try not to laugh when people had a struggle pronouncing it…

    I like “archival digital print” it indicates the means without encouraging too much pixel-peeping geekiness….

    If you say Archival Inkjet, some people will ask exactly what printer, what paper, etc…. and go to wilhelm imaging and look up if the print is supposed to last 100 or 200 years or whatever beyond their lifespan….