Archival Inkjet In Fine Art Photography

There is much confusion in the fine-art world about fine art photography printing methods and papers, so we wanted to clarify our reasoning behind our Americano Dream Collection prints when it comes to the type of printing methods we’ve chosen. We chose Epson UltraChrome K3 inks and Hahnemuehle Photo Rag paper.

The ink is not dye based, it’s archival pigment based designed as an 8-color ink set with three unique levels of black and according to Epson, “…represents a turning point in the history of inkjet printing.” This ink is matched to the Hahnemuehle Photo Rag paper with a smooth matte surface—inks penetrate matte or watercolor paper deeper than gloss papers for great longevity.

Hahnemuehle Photo Rag archival paper has an age resistant classification (see Wilhelm Imaging Research tests) of at least 100 years or more. This paper is acid free with a pH value between 7.5 and 9.5 plus at least a 4% calcium carbonate (CaCO3) buffer against air pollution. They are also wood free made from chlorine-free (tcf-ecf) bleached pulp and/or rag fibers making them lightfast and no yellowing like that from wood based papers. These papers hold a GSM of 308-310.

This ideal combination of Epson inks and Hahnemuehle paper makes the fine art photography Americano Dream Collection prints last longer than an average chromogenic or C-print including those that have recently sold for millions of dollars (see our homepage).

Chromogenic prints first came out in the 1950’s and were called “Type-C” before it evolved to the C-print. In reality, “…chromogenic is characterized by a reaction between two chemicals to create the color dyes that make up a photographic image.” In the end, they are dyes on paper not pigments, and that plays a huge role on longevity.

Eventually many artists turned to Giclée printing and their prints have sold for large amounts in auctions including Annie Leibovitz, Chuck Close, and Wolfgang Tillmans (Phillips de Pury & Company). Many Giclée prints are found in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Chelsea Galleries just to name a few high-end exhibition locations.

In reality, Giclée is just a fancy word coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne, while working at Nash Editions, “for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers.” According to Wikipedia.com, “The name originally applied to fine art prints created on IRIS printers…but has since come to mean any inkjet print…often used by artists, galleries, and print shops to denote high quality printing but…has no associated warranty of quality.”

Duganne at the time wanted a name for the printing process of the IRIS printer for fine art printing. “He was specifically looking for a word that would not have the negative connotations of ‘inkjet’ or ‘computer generated.’ It is based on the French word gicleur, which means “nozzle” (the verb form gicler means ‘to squirt, spurt, or spray’).” Ironically in French slang, the word also means “male ejaculation.”

Over the years the name Giclée has become associated with all forms of archival inkjet printing including with HP, Epson, Canon and other high-quality inkjet professional grade printers—so in reality, if you’re printing with a high-end inkjet printer on archival paper, and with archival pigment inks (not dye inks), you can call your inkjet print Giclée or anything you’d like for that matter.

For those that paid millions of dollars for C-prints, well we wish you the best on your investment because chances are, most archival inkjet prints today will more than likely outlast your C-prints by almost a hundred years, though one thing for sure, chances are whomever wound up with your C-notes is happy and not confused.

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