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Author Topic: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?  (Read 3476 times)

NeilPrintArt

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What to call a print? Yes that old chestnut

It strikes me as fascinating that there is still no universally agreed descriptive term for prints made with archival pigment inks using a wide-gamut inkjet printer.
Terms like 'oil on canvas' and 'silver gelatin print' are widely accepted and used and understood.
But at the recent Cape Town Art Fair (February 2023) I was struck once again by the apparently random and idiosyncratic range of descriptive terms used to describe the worlds most popular and wide-spread form of fine art and photographic printing.

Amongst the descriptive terms attached to prints I saw.....

Fine art print on Hahnemuehle
Archival inkjet print on enhanced matte paper
Archival Hahnemuehle inkjet print
Giclee print on cotton rag
Pigment inks on Hahnemeuhle etching paper 310gsm
Inkjet print on baryta paper
Pigment ink on fibre paper
Archival print on Hahnemuehle Baryta Photo Rag
Giclee print on Fine Art Baryta paper
Ilford Crystal Gloss Giclee
Etc etc etc

A veritable Tower of Babel of confused terms.
And this is not some small provincial event where the locals might not be expected to know better. This is an international art fair, with major contemporary art galleries from Europe and around the world. With international collector prices. And yet all the paintings are (correctly?) labelled 'oil on canvas' and all the silver gelatin prints are labelled as such, but almost every single digital print had a different (and apparently confused) description. I think I saw one or two prints that had, what I understand to be, an accurate and correct naming convention....'Archival pigment ink on cotton rag' or 'Archival pigment ink on baryta paper' or similar.     

My question is why is there this situation, which seems unique to digital pigment ink prints?
Is it because of the relative newness of the technology?
And why the persistence of the term 'Giclee'?
And why the insistence on including brand names? I have never seen 'Windsor and Newton oils on Belgian canvas' and I have rarely seen a silver gelatin print that includes information about developer or paper? I have been told by one gallery that collectors and buyers should have as much information about the print as possible, hence the inclusion of brand names. I am not convinced by that though.
Is it because there is a general feeling that the idea of 'digital' somehow doesn't equate to 'fine art' or 'creativity'? And so there is desire to use confusing and impressive terms?   


Curious as to others options on this   

Thanks
Neil
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Panagiotis

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2023, 07:50:24 am »

Here in Greece (a very small, immature, uneducated market on quality prints and processes) the awful term "Giclee" tends to be used for the inkjet pigment prints. I was forced to use this terrible term in my business website just because the competitors use it and I must include it for SEO reasons. I also wrote an article in the blog session of the site explaining (just touching the surface) what a fine art print or giclee or archival inkjet print is to start offering some info on the matter. The article is indexed in Google database but the algorithm (which is very clever) does not serve it as a result because the search intent (for the article) is informational and no one here wants to learn something on the matter.
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PeterAit

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2023, 10:16:34 am »

I assume the organizers have no guidance?

I dislike the term giclee because it sounds affected--like someone does not want to say "inkjet" due to the association with cheap office printers. I simply call mine Archival Digital Print and add "on Canvas" when appropriate.
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digitaldog

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2023, 12:02:15 pm »

Giclee is a BS term the two men who started this all (Mac Holbert and Graham Nash) despise.
So no, not that term.
How about Print?
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Paul_Roark

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2023, 12:19:36 pm »

I simply call the prints I sell through a gallery "photographic prints."  At this point in the technology, there is no reason to be apologetic about using inkjet technology instead of the old chemical darkroom tech.  We're way beyond that.

FWIW

Paul
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aaronleitz

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2023, 12:32:24 pm »


Is it because there is a general feeling that the idea of 'digital' somehow doesn't equate to 'fine art' or 'creativity'? And so there is desire to use confusing and impressive terms?   

Thanks
Neil

Yes. It's marketing speak. Since photo prints aren't as valuable as one-of-a-kind works you've got to jazz their description up a bit for potential buyers/collectors. The only real distinction that is of importance to galleries (in my limited experience) is whether the work is a print or not. My work is described as "archival pigment print."

I personally would never use the word "digital" in a description of my work - even though all of my current work is shot on digital cameras.

And I also think you give viewers a bit too much credit when it comes to noticing/caring. You may know/care about the difference but most people don't. Especially those attending big important art fairs.

EDIT: I did some looking around and it seems that the high end galleries simply list the type of print: chromogenic print, pigment print, silver gelatin print.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2023, 01:31:25 pm by aaronleitz »
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Richard.Wills

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2023, 03:26:05 pm »

The phone call... Do you do - erm, I'm not sure quite how to pronounce it - gickle printing.
Explain it is a pretentious weezle word.
But yes, I need it to be a gickle print.
Sure, I can do that, but it costs 20% more.
Why, it's just a pigment inkjet print on a high quality art paper.
Yes, but I have to dig out my French keyboard.

Slightly worrying, I've had a couple of gallerists tell me that all colour prints, regardless of production method are now viewed as chromogenic.
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digitaldog

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2023, 03:30:11 pm »

The phone call... Do you do - erm, I'm not sure quite how to pronounce it - gickle printing.
Explain it is a pretentious weezle word.
But yes, I need it to be a gickle print.
Sure, I can do that, but it costs 20% more.
Why, it's just a pigment inkjet print on a high quality art paper.
Yes, but I have to dig out my French keyboard.

Slightly worrying, I've had a couple of gallerists tell me that all colour prints, regardless of production method are now viewed as chromogenic.

And ALL of them are “300 DPI” 😝:
https://forum.luminous-landscape.com/index.php?topic=136760.msg1194660#msg1194660
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Richard.Wills

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2023, 03:59:49 pm »

Not All.
Had a client provice files for a set of 10x12" at 1440dpi, 32bit files without a profile, so I could apply the print profile.
Images had been processed through instagram.
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Eric Brody

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2023, 06:02:55 pm »

I have always hated the pretentious word "giclee." The art world has enough pretentious people who want to make something simple into something complex. Were I to see that word (I cannot even type it again) on a print in which I was interested, I'd run for the hills as the maker has just told me what he/she is, pretentious at best, dishonest at worst.

On the rare occasion that I display or actually sell a print, I endeavor to accurately label it... "archival pigment photographic print."

I think that says it all. Were I to sell a darkroom print, it would be labeled... "archival silver gelatin photographic print."

This presumes I'm using pigment inks on rag paper (not plastic) for my inkjet prints and that I did a good fix and wash and selenium tone for my wet darkroom prints.

What the future holds, AI, chatbots, etc, I have no idea except that I know NFT's are BS, just like cryptocurrency.
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Lessbones

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2023, 07:36:48 pm »

Not to mention that the word "Gicleé" is literally French for "Squirt" so not only does your "squirt print" sound silly and pretentious, but it borders on the vulgar as well
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MfAlab

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2023, 10:35:27 pm »

Use the word that museum use, and it can represent the tech/craft. "inkjet print" or "inkjet print on paper" is the proper choice. "archival" is still a marketing term. Watercolour is watercolour, people won't mark it as "archival watercolour". When we want get rid of "Gicleé" and "Digigraphie", don't jump into other holes.
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Manoli

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2023, 02:13:22 am »

Some history might help …

Giclée
A neologism - attributed to Jack Duganne who subsequently worked with/for Holbert & Nash.

Full history:
Giclée

Quote
The process is relatively new, having its beginnings in the 90’s when in Los Angeles, printmaker Jack Duganne was producing high-quality images using printers at his studio (Duganne Ateliers) that differed from what commercial fine art printmakers were doing with their IRIS printers. Jack wanted to separate himself from the negative connotations associated with the reproductions being created by IRIS printers, and set out to find a new name for his high-quality reproductions.

Inspired by the French word for inkjet (jet d’encre), Jack named his prints after the French word for nozzle (le gicleur). Since nozzles do all the spraying in fine art reproductions, he went with the feminine word for spray in French (la giclee).
(source unknown)

You might not like it (I don’t) but you know what it means!
30 years on, it's a term now superceded by more descriptive terms.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2023, 02:38:35 am by Manoli »
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Manoli

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2023, 02:16:52 am »

@ the OP
All those terms are not as confusing as you make out. Today,

•   Archival - Implies the use of pigment inks (as opposed to dye or lesser inks)
•   Pigment inks – ditto.
•   And it’s not at all uncommon today to specify what paper the image is printed on
« Last Edit: April 11, 2023, 02:41:23 am by Manoli »
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Manoli

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2023, 02:25:25 am »

When we want get rid of "Gicleé" and "Digigraphie", don't jump into other holes.

Digigraph was a term coined by Holbert/Nash, back then, to describe work they were doing involving photographs. Never caught on - or at least I can't say I've seen it to describe a print for sale.

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MfAlab

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2023, 04:19:54 am »

Digigraph was a term coined by Holbert/Nash, back then, to describe work they were doing involving photographs. Never caught on - or at least I can't say I've seen it to describe a print for sale.

Actually, Digigraphie is used by Epson EU (started from France), and is a trademark owned by Epson. There are over 350 laboratories listed on their website.
https://www.digigraphie.com/int/index.htm

Similar term is UltraGicleé, Epson US wants to duplicate the success of Digigraphie. But they finally failed. Also, Epson China has their own version called "艺术微喷".
http://www1.epson.com.cn/large-format/
艺术微喷 is a very common usage on inkjet prints in Chinese art market.

"archival" is not a serious term when talking about printing material. Please see related papers of museum research. "archival storage" is a common use, but "archival prints" is not. The usage of "archival print" and "pigment print" is just to prevent the use of word "inkjet" or "digital", they are all the same with "Gicleé" when it comes to purpose. It's another hole similar with "Gicleé". Just think about it, have we seen "archival oil painting" or "archival watercolour"? If I want to stop treating inkjet as a low-end method, I will start from treating it as a normal method. Mark it as "inkjet print" or "inkjet on paper". A watercolour painting do not need a description of "cotton paper", neither do inkjet. Same situation of many other words, such as "pigment", "archival" and "acid-free", not to mention "Epson", "Hahnemühle", "Canson Infinity", "Arches". Oil painting is oil painting, watercolour is watercolour, and inkjet print is inkjet print.
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Manoli

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2023, 05:53:30 am »

Actually, Digigraphie is used by Epson EU (started from France), and is a trademark owned by Epson. There are over 350 laboratories listed on their website.

Yes, it's a trademark, not a description.

"archival" is not a serious term when talking about printing material. Please see related papers of museum research. "archival storage" is a common use, but "archival prints" is not. The usage of "archival print" and "pigment print" is just to prevent the use of word "inkjet" or "digital", they are all the same with "Gicleé" when it comes to purpose. It's another hole similar with "Gicleé". Just think about it, have we seen "archival oil painting" or "archival watercolour"? If I want to stop treating inkjet as a low-end method, I will start from treating it as a normal method. Mark it as "inkjet print" or "inkjet on paper". A watercolour painting do not need a description of "cotton paper", neither do inkjet. Same situation of many other words, such as "pigment", "archival" and "acid-free", not to mention "Epson", "Hahnemühle", "Canson Infinity", "Arches". Oil painting is oil painting, watercolour is watercolour, and inkjet print is inkjet print.

I have no knowledge of the Far Eastern art market, but a simple check with Sotheby's (to name but one) and you'll find under the description :

Oil on board
Oil on canvas
Watercolour on ...

<< If I want to stop treating inkjet as a low-end method, I will start from treating it as a normal method. Mark it as "inkjet print" or "inkjet on paper". >>

Below are two printers. Both inkjets. One is dye based, the other pigment ink based.
NO, they are not the same.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1636071-REG/canon_4620c002_pixma_g620_printer.html
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1191313-REG/canon_0608c002_pixma_pro_1000_17_professional.html/accessories
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MfAlab

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2023, 06:13:10 am »

I have no knowledge of the Far Eastern art market, but a simple check with Sotheby's (to name but one) and you'll find under the description :

Oil on board
Oil on canvas
Watercolour on ...

That's what I mean. Just mark an inkjet print as "inkjet print" or "inkjet on paper".

Below are two printers. Both inkjets. One is dye based, the other pigment ink based.
NO, they are not the same.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1636071-REG/canon_4620c002_pixma_g620_printer.html
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1191313-REG/canon_0608c002_pixma_pro_1000_17_professional.html/accessories

That didn't matter. Would you ask an artist or a gallery to list which watercolour or acrylic colors been used, and the light-fastness of it? If the answer is no, why should inkjet did? That's my whole point.
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Kang-Wei Hsu
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2023, 08:50:11 am »

... Would you ask an artist or a gallery to list which watercolour or acrylic colors been used, and the light-fastness of it? If the answer is no, why should inkjet did? That's my whole point.

It definitely matters if a print is archival or not. The comparison with watercolor etc. is misguided. There are no two types of watercolor etc., long-lasting and quickly-fading. But for inkjet prints, the memory is still very fresh of the early inkjet prints that were fading within months, if not weeks.

Perhaps in the future, when the only generation left is the one that today doesn't even know how to make a phone call on a rotary phone, the distinction wouldn't matter. They never saw a fast-fading print. Nor would they care if something lasts longer than a TikTok video.

NeilPrintArt

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Re: what to call a digital print and why is there no standard?
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2023, 09:39:55 am »

I must admit I do relish those moments when a customer asks me to explain the dreaded word "Giclee". Because I usually give a quick history and then say that it is no longer valid and finally that the term is also vulgar French slang for male ejaculation. A stunning coup de grâce . A slight widening of the eyes and then we move on quickly from there. :)

 
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Neil Williamson
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