Giclée Prints (pronounced zhe-clay’) Brief History
Jack Duganne, a master fine-art printmaker in Santa Monica, CA coined the term “giclée” in 1991 after a watercolorist customer asked him for advice on what she should call her digitally created fine-art prints. Duganne told her that they could be called Iris prints or inkjet prints, and that another printmaking atelier, Nash Editions, was calling them “ Digigraphs.” The artist didn’t think any of those terms were sufficiently “artsy.” so Duganne accepted the challenge of coining a new word for a digital fine-art print.
Knowing that most printmaking terms are Italian or French in origin (and being a French speaker himself), Duganne formulated a word derived from the French word for nozzle or “Gicleur.” The direct object of gicleur, or “that which is sprayed by a nozzle” is “giclée.”
Duganne’s artist-client loved it, publicized it in her promotional pieces, and the word took off from there. Duganne says he never tried to copyright the term because it is too generic and refers to a whole category of fine-art digital prints.
(Duganne goes on to say...) “The intention of the word giclée was to have it apply only as a fine-art application. The best analogy would be the difference between a silkscreen print and a serigraph. They’re both silkscreen prints, but the serigraph is a silkscreen print that is used for fine-art. It’s the same thing with giclée.”
From an article by Heather Gaynor published in “The Big Picture” magazine, May 2002.