Artist Teresa Flavin holding a large giclée art print of botanical paintings in a grid

Is this an original or a print?

You want to purchase a special artwork but you aren’t sure whether you should buy the ‘original’ or a ‘giclée art print’ of it. Here’s my take on the important differences to know about.

We artists love creating unique artworks that make our hearts sing. We’re communicating our innermost feelings and closest observations through a skilful collection of marks on a surface. We’re connecting with you, the audience, and inviting your feelings, too. It’s a joy and an honour when one of our paintings resonates with you so much that you want to show it in your home.

You might have noticed that some artists and galleries offer an ‘original’ painting and they also offer ‘giclée prints’ of it. I’m one of those artists! Telling originals and prints apart can be a little confusing sometimes. When the colours and textures are so beautiful and the paper is of such high quality, a giclée print can look like it came straight from the artist’s easel. In my opinion, this is great because giclée reproductions allow more people to enjoy my work in their home, but to avoid disappointment, I want to make sure a collector understands what a giclée print is before buying.

What does giclée mean? The Fine Art Trade Guild has a simple definition here. Artwork Archive goes a bit more in-depth here. Essentially a giclée print is a digital reproduction made from either a high resolution scan or photograph of an original artwork. The original artwork is one-of-a-kind and may command a high price. It might also have been sold to someone else! But if the artist has giclée art prints available for sale, you can purchase one at an affordable price.

The best giclée prints are professionally produced by specialist printers with experience of calibrating digital files for the closest reproduction possible. They are able to work with the artist to achieve the highest quality image and to choose a paper stock that brings out the artwork’s beauty. The inks and paper used are of archival quality, which means they are long lasting and durable so you will have years of enjoyment from them.

Are all giclée prints hand signed by the artist? Mine are, and many artists do sign their giclée prints – but not all do. Some even add small extra handmade embellishments to a giclée print to make it unique.

Can giclée prints be Limited Editions? They can. In traditional printmaking such as screen printing, linocut and etching, artists create individual, one-of-a-kind prints by hand and each are hand signed and numbered. Once each print has sold, no more prints are made from that image. Since giclée prints are digital, there is minimal variation between each reproduction. However, artists may decide only to produce a hand-signed limited edition of a particular piece for other reasons.

Botanical giclée art prints by Teresa Flavin displayed together

Joyful Garden giclée prints

I chose to limit the number of prints produced for each design in my shop because they are all images from my personal sketchbooks and will never be for sale as original artworks. I limit the edition for each to 25 hand signed giclée prints – and once they have gone to collectors, I won’t reproduce that image as a print again.

What is an Open Edition? If an artist offers a print as part of an open edition, it means that there is no limit on the number they can produce. Open edition giclée prints are generally not hand signed by the artist.

Some artists’ giclée prints seem quite expensive. Why is that? There are many factors at play in the price of prints. A high price could be due to the larger size of the image, the bespoke quality of the paper stock, whether it is framed and whether it is a hand signed, limited edition by a popular artist. Giclée prints are usually more affordable than an original artwork would be but the professional quality production and framing costs affect the retail price.

Not all artists offer giclée prints, but I’m delighted to! If you have any other questions about my prints and original art for sale, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. (And by the way, I’m holding a giclée print in the photo at the top!)