Giclee, pronounced ‘zhee-clay’, is derived from the French word ‘gicler’, meaning to squirt or spray, and the word Giclee now specifically refers to the process of making fine-art, archival, or ‘museum-quality’ prints from a digital source by using special ink-jet printers. Over the last decade much technological progress has been made in the fields of digital photography and scanning techniques, the development of long-lasting art papers and pigment-based inks, and the production of more sophisticated large-format ink-jet or Giclee printers.
Over this period Giclee prints have also had a major impact on the contemporary art market, where an artist or photographer can readily produce an edition of archival or museum quality prints that have an astonishing clarity of detail and vibrant colour fidelity. As ‘limited-editions’ these prints are often quite costly when sold through fine-art galleries, where they may be printed onto photo, matte and watercolor papers, or cotton and vinyl canvas. But not all those who claim to make fine-art Giclee prints have the capabilities to produce them to a high standard, because so much depends on the skill, knowledge and experience of the person making the prints, as well as on the quality of the equipment and materials they use.
The Giclee prints that appear on this website are all produced to the highest possible standard, for not only are the original Tibetan and Newar paintings they are derived from of the finest quality and accuracy, but so are the prints themselves. For the entire work of photographing, processing and printing these images has been undertaken at the Cambridge studio of Peter Mennim, who is not only one of the UK’s most skilled art photographers and digital image technicians, but also an extremely talented artist and renowned illustrator in his own right. It has been a great pleasure for us to work with such a skilled and sensitive person.
The technical details of the studio equipment and materials that have been used to make these prints can be found on Peter’s website. But basically each individual painting is first photographed under precise studio lighting conditions in order to obtain the best results, and then processed to the highest possible level. This is the area where immense care and experiential skill is required. Repeated test proofs are then printed to ensure that the final image will be as close to an exact facsimile of the original painting as possible.
For many of these images this has been the case, where a framed same-size Giclee print is often virtually indistinguishable from the painted original. But when real gold pigment (22 karat) has been used and often burnished, as is the case with most Tibetan thangkas and Newar paintings, these metallic effects cannot be reproduced. So to compensate for this a combination of photographic techniques and digital enhancement has been used to mimic the gold details as closely as possible.
The paper used for all of these prints is Hanhnemuhle Photo Rag 308 gsm Digital Fine Art Paper, and the printer is a twelve-colour Hewlett Packard that uses Vivara Pigment Inks; with both paper and inks having a permanency of at least a hundred years according to Wilhelm Imaging Research. However, this also depends upon the environmental conditions in which these prints are kept.