- What materials do you use for your giclée prints?
- What papers do you use?
- What mat and backing board materials do you use?
- What canvas do you use, and how do you prepare it?
What is a giclée print?
According to Bill Casselman, an immensely entertaining Canadian etymologist:
A giclée (zhee-KLAY) print is a superb-quality copy of an artwork or photograph made using high end, 8-to-12-color inkjet printing techniques, coupled with the use of pigment inks, archival inks that maintain image stability and color permanence better than all other known inks.
The French word giclée was first applied to this technology by Jack Duganne, a California artist and photographer who wanted to distinguish his prints from inexpensive inkjet prints made with impermanent dye-based inks. Read Bill’s article to get a really full and fun explanation of the word’s origin and meaning.
All our giclée prints are made on Epson printers using the latest Ultrachrome archival pigment inks.
What papers do you use?
We offer a selection of five fine art papers. All are naturally acid free and contain no artificial brighteners. Their textures range from very smooth to heavily textured in order listed. The gsm number refers to grams per square meter. The higher the gsm number, the heavier the paper is.
Epson Hot Press Natural. Epson Hot Press Natural Paper is made from 100% cotton fiber and so is naturally acid and lignin free. In addition it is pH buffered for long lasting protection. The natural cotton finish has not been treated with chlorine bleach, and it contains no artificial brighteners. The hot press manufacture of this media provides an extremely smooth finish that is optimized for the Epson UltraChrome Ink family to provide rich, deep blacks and an incredibly wide color gamut. 300 gsm
Somerset Velvet for Epson. Somerset has always been the first paper choice among serious artists and printmakers. Ever since the 1700s and the days of handmade paper, Somerset has enjoyed a reputation for quality that has continued to grow through the years. Now Epson brings you this old-world paper, with an ink jet coating, to meet the quality requirements of the most demanding printmaker. Somerset Velvet for Epson is a100% cotton, acid-free paper that delivers long-lasting prints when printed with EPSON UltraChrome Ink. 255 gsm
Hahnemühle Bamboo. The traditional Hahnemühle paper mill has developed the first Fine Art inkjet paper made from highly renewable bamboo fibers for photographic and fine art reproduction and complying with highest archival standards. Hahnemühle Bamboo is a natural white paper made from 90% bamboo fibers and 10% cotton. With its premium matte inkjet coating, it meets the highest industry standards for density, color gamut, color gradation, and image sharpness, while preserving the special touch and feel of genuine art paper. 290 gsm
Epson Cold Press Natural. This is made from 100% cotton fiber and so is naturally acid and lignin free. In addition it is pH buffered for long lasting protection. The natural cotton finish has not been treated with chlorine bleach, and it contains no artificial brighteners. The cold press manufacture of this media provides an elegantly textured finish that is optimized for the Epson UltraChrome Ink family to provide rich, deep blacks and an incredibly wide color gamut. 340 gsm
Hahnemühle William Turner. This is a natural white, 100% cotton paper that is ideal for reproductions of traditional artworks and also for striking and expressive photo reproductions. The mould-made watercolor paper features a distinct textured surface. With its premium matte inkjet coating, it meets the highest industry standards for density, color gamut, color gradation, and image sharpness, while preserving the special touch and feel of genuine art paper. 310 gsm
What mat and backing board materials do you use?
We selected mat and backing board materials for color compatibility with our natural white cotton papers and for the highest standards of archival quality.
Our window mats and backing boards are from the Crescent RagMat line. They are made from 100% natural cotton that has not been treated with chlorine bleach and contains no artificial brighteners.
Bainbridge Artcare Archival Foamboard is an economical choice for a backing board for our matted prints. Artcare Archival Foamboard is the only foamboard that’s truly archival. Other foamboards offer an archival surface, while the foam itself gives off gases that can fade, damage, and deteriorate your artwork. But Artcare, with its MicroChamber technology, absorbs and neutralizes those harmful gases and protects the art well into the future.
We will mount your photograph to the backing board using hinges along the top of the image made of removable acid-free tape.
What canvas do you use and how do you prepare it?
We use PremierArt Museum Bright Satin Canvas—a poly/cotton canvas with a natural white base. This is then coated with PremierArt Eco Print Shield, a solvent-free soft-gloss varnish that has been formulated especially for PremierArt canvas. Independent testing by Wilhelm Imaging Research has shown that it will increase the life of the image significantly, while protecting the print from scuffing and other physical abrasions.
Can you send me a proof before I place my order?
We do not offer proofs as a separate product, but—particularly if you are uploading your own image—we think it is a good idea to order a single reference print to make sure you are satisfied with the image quality before you place a large order. A smaller reference print would probably be adequate, since we use the same materials and methods no matter what size the final print is. If you become a regular customer, we hope you’ll soon develop a high level of confidence in our work, so you may no longer think a reference print is necessary.
Can I get a refund if I’m not completely satisfied?
As we mentioned above—particularly if you are uploading your own image—we encourage you to purchase a reference print before you place a large order. We will guarantee your satisfaction with the reference print and work with you until we get it right or refund the purchase price. This guarantee applies to any single unmatted print or unstretched canvas. For any other order we offer a 75% refund of the purchase price when you return an order that has dissatisfied you in any way. Returns must be made at your own expense and within 30 days of receipt of your order.
What if I want to photograph my own artwork?
With a modest investment and a bit of care, you may be able to get acceptable results photographing your own work. The essential elements are a good camera, a good lens, a good tripod, and good light.
- A good camera. The best option is a professional level digital SLR that allows you to shoot in the Adobe RGB color space. The second best is an enthusiast level camera that shoots in the sRGB color space and has interchangeable lenses. The worst option is a point and shoot camera with a zoom lens.
- A good lens. Simpler is better. A single focal length lens (prime lens) will have less distortion than a zoom lens. Single focal length macro lenses are usually among the best lenses offered by a manufacturer.
- A good tripod. Really, any tripod. If you do not use a tripod, your images will not be as sharp as they should be. And you should use a self-timer or remote—not your finger—to trip the shutter.
- Good light. Diffused sunlight is ideal, the kind of light you find under a skylight or on a lightly overcast day. If you have a tent with a translucent white top, that would be a great place to set up a temporary photo studio.
It is also important that you get the correct exposure in your photographs. Most digital cameras have a histogram display that shows a graph of tonal values in your image. On a properly exposed image, the histogram will have a peak near the middle that slopes down to just touch the right side of the display. If the histogram is bunched up on the right side, your image is overexposed. If the histogram is bunched up on the left side, it’s underexposed. Once you’ve taken your best shot, you’ll want to process it to your satisfaction as described below, or have us do the processing for you.
How large can you print my image?
The ideal resolution for your image is 300dpi at the size you want to reproduce it. Our printing software uses sophisticated scaling algorithms, so you should not scale your own images to reach this resolution. While 300dpi is the ideal, we have had excellent results with images that have 200dpi resolution, and we’ve had very good results with as low as 100dpi resolution at the size you want printed. If you are uncertain how to determine if your image file will produce an acceptable print at the size you want, you can email us your image and tell us how large you would like it printed and we will advise you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will you crop my image?
If you choose an image size that matches the proportions of your original, we will not crop your image. Most digital photographs have an image ration of 2:3, so images sizes like 8×12 or 16×24 can be printed with no cropping.
If you choose an image size that does not match the proportions of the original, we will center your image and crop it to fit. For example, if you want an 8×10 print from a digital photograph with an image ratio of 2:3, we’d have to crop one inch from each side. If you are uncertain how to determine the proportion of you original image and the size it can be printed without cropping, email us your image and tell us how large you would like it printed and we will advise you. Email us at email@example.com. You also might find this proportion calculator handy.
How should I prepare my image if I want you to print it as is?
If you are a photographer or artist with a good understanding of color management, you can prepare your own images and have us print them as is.
To assure consistent color reproduction, it is essential that you have viewed and adjusted the image to your satisfaction on a calibrated monitor. We have found that calibrating our monitor to CIE D55 gives the best preview of the final printed image. We use the X-rite i1Display Pro to calibrate our monitor. Less expensive options—like the X-rite ColorMunki Smile—are available.
If you have a high end graphics monitor that faithfully displays the Adobe RGB color space (we use the Dell U2413), you can save your processed image in that color space as a jpeg at maximum quality.
If you have a standard monitor that uses the sRGB color space, we can still get very good results if you save your jpeg image at maximum quality in that color space. Once again, it is essential that you view and adjust your image on a monitor that has been calibrated. If you do not have a calibrated monitor, you really have no way to accurately communicate the color information in your image. It would be best to either have us process your image or photograph your artwork.
How should I prepare my image if I want you to process it before printing?
If you plan to supply your own digital images, but you don’t have a color calibrated monitor, we can process your images for you.
If you are a photographer, you can submit your RAW or unprocessed jpeg images and we will use our best judgement to adjust white balance, tonal range, and contrast to produce the most effective print of your work.
If you are an artist submitting your own digital images, you can help us by taking two photos of your artwork and include a plain white piece of office paper in one of the shots. We will use that as a reference point for setting the white balance. We will then use our best judgement to adjust the tonal range and contrast in your image for optimal reproduction. Processing someone else’ photographs inevitably involves making judgement calls—so it would be prudent to order a small reference print before placing a large order.
Why should I consider having you photograph my artwork?
If you read the FAQs on photographing and preparing your own images and it made perfect sense, you can probably photograph your own work, provided you have the right gear. But if those sections were confusing, or you don’t have professional photography gear, you might want to let us do it for you.
We use the latest Canon professional digital SLRs, currently the 50 megapixel Canon EOS 5DS R. We match this to a selection of single focal length lenses that we’ve chosen for their superb optical qualities. These include the Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro, Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, and the Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM.
We have a dedicated copy studio with a pair of Westcott Spiderlite TD6 lights mounted in large soft boxes. These lights use six 50-watt, full spectrum, daylight balanced fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs provide a bright continuous light source that generates little heat so won’t damage your artwork. We carefully meter the light across the image to assure perfectly even illumination.
We calibrate our cameras to this light source to guarantee accurate color reproduction and will process your image on a calibrated monitor that faithfully reproduces the full Adobe RGB color space. We’ve created custom profiles for all of our printer and paper selections to further assure accurate color reproduction. From capture to print, your image will move entirely within our color controlled and calibrated environment. But, of course, we’ll also do a physical comparison of our print to your original as a final step in quality control to assure that our giclée is as close a match to your original as possible.
How should I ship my artwork to you?
- Choose whatever method of packing and shipping is most convenient for you.
- Do not ship us framed artwork.We can’t be responsible for disassembling and reassembling framed work.
- Include a paid return label so we can send your artwork back to you.
- We will retain your shipping materials and repack your artwork as you sent it to us.
- The shipping address is:
Grand River Giclée
3415 Roger B. Chaffee Blvd SE
Wyoming, MI 49548