Sunday, June 5, 2011

Richard Rennie Jr. Presentation on Giclee Prints

 An Abstract print of one of Richard Rennie Snr's paintings.
This last Saturday morning we held a wonderful presentation by Richard Rennie (Jnr) together with Richard (Snr). We had a nice turnout of 23 attendees in the Gallery at Norscot Manor, and the presentation kicked off on time at 10:00 am.
Dave Croad, Johannesburg Branch Chair does introductions 
Richard (Jnr) talked eloquently about the technical aspects of Giclee printing. The advent of ink jet printing by Epson revolutionised the printing industry, but while "normal" ink jet printing uses only 3 colours plus black (the CMYK colour system), the process has evolved into one where any number of pure colour inks can be used to spray onto virtually any surface in ever more microscopic dots resulting in very high resolutions. The term "Giclee" pronounced "Zhee-clay" is derived from the French word for "squirt" or "spray". These inks are of such high quality and colour-fastness these days that they carry guarantees against fading of up to 500 years! 
Richard Rennie Jr. presenting his Giclee prints to members and guests.
One of the biggest advantages of Giclee printing over traditional offset-lithographical printing is the setup cost. Offset litho printing needs long runs (1000+) of each print to make the unit cost affordable. While the inks are more expensive for Giclee printing, the setup costs are relatively small enabling small runs (of say 10 only) to be cost-effective. Once the high quality photo image has been stored in the system, the cost each single extra print is the same. This is an enormous advantage for artists who may not be sure how well any one print will sell. As a very rough guideline, Richard indicated the cost of a Giclee print made from a full-sheet watercolour would be in the region of R400 to R600 depending on the paper used and the amount of time required to "photoshop" out any marks, imperfections etc. Smaller sizes would be correspondingly less.
Another important consideration is the ability to print onto virtually any surface, enabling oil painting prints to be printed onto canvas, or watercolours to be printed onto smooth or rough cold-pressed watercolour paper, resulting in extremely realistic prints, hard to distinguish from the originals. The Rennies showed this to great effect by comparing side-by-side a Giclee print of one of Richard's watercolours with the actual original painting. Many of us guessed wrongly about which was the original!
The quality and the maximum size of the print obviously depend on the resolution of the digital photo image of the painting. Therefore, especially for prints larger than A4 size, a very specialised high resolution camera has to be used together with very sophisticated lighting. Fortunately for us, Richard (Jnr) has access to this type of equipment, and is able to offer us artists a total solution including photographing the painting, digitally correcting any blemishes etc., storing the image in his archive for any future use, and printing any number of prints to any size and on any surface.
The subject of copyright, exclusivity and ownership was also discussed, but that is a huge debate on its own. We might discuss it in future posts or even perhaps have a further presentation about it too. 
Richard Rennie has left a catalogue of his currently available Giclee prints in the Norscot Manor Gallery (the catalogue is a work of art in itself!), as well as some examples of actual prints, some of which are for sale.

An example of a Richard Rennie Snr's watercolour printed by his son Richard Rennie Jr.


Barbara said...

Great article.

Cathy Gatland said...

I'm sorry to have missed this, sounds like an excellent presentation