Original, Giclée or Embellished Giclée… What's the difference?

In a perfect world, we could all own nothing but original art. But let’s be honest… originals are often (rightfully) priced much higher, and that can put them out of reach for many of us. As an artist, one of my main goals is to spread joy and happiness. In order to do that effectively I want to reach as many people as I can, so it is important for me to be able to offer my work at a range of price points. While nothing will look QUITE as good as an original, I think everyone deserves to surround themselves with art they love! That is where prints come in.

I offer two different kinds of prints at ArtByDora.com: Paper Giclée Prints and Canvas Giclée Gallery Wraps. The Gallery Wraps can be plain or “embellished”. Great, you say, but what does all of that mean? I’m so glad you asked…

Paper Giclée Prints

Paper prints are pretty straightforward. Prints, on paper. They are made by taking a super high resolution photograph or scan of the original artwork, and then printing it on paper with an inkjet printer. There is a big difference between these and a poster or wall art you’d find at Hobby Lobby, however, and that is for two reasons:

The first reason is the ink. In order to be considered a “giclée” (pronounced “zhee-clay”.... or “jee-clay” around these parts!) it must be printed using highly-pigmented, archival inks. That means that 10, 20 or 50 years from now, the colors of your print will look exactly the same as the day you purchased it.

The second reason is the paper. 100% cotton is a must. My favorite right now is Hahnemühle Photo Rag. The bright white color makes the vibrant hues of my art pop even more, and since it is acid and lignin free you can rest assured that your print will stand the test of time and not turn yellow. Plus, it has the most yummy, felty texture!

Paper Prints by Dora Knuteson

Paper giclée prints waiting to be signed!

Canvas Giclée Prints

Giclées don’t have to be printed on paper. They can also be printed on 100% cotton canvas material and wrapped around wooden stretcher bars, giving you a "gallery wrap." Right off the bat, giclée production methods are going to make these prints superior to your standard wall art from a big box retailer. But to make your artwork even more unique, you can choose to have it hand embellished.

What is an embellished giclée?

“Embellishing” refers to painting over areas of the image to apply brush strokes and enhance color. After receiving the giclée back from the printer, I add a hand painted signature. Then I grab my brushes and palette knives and go over the entire surface with a combination of paint and a thick, clear acrylic medium in order to increase texture on the surface and make some of the colors stand out. The extra dimension makes it look more like an original, at a fraction of the cost. Plus, since these extra steps are done by hand by yours truly, no two embellished prints are exactly the same!

The image on the left shows a plain giclée before embellishment. The surface is smooth and not too shiny. On the right you can see more texture has been added and there is a bit glossier finish.

I hope this helps you understand your options when it comes to fine art prints! If you have any questions about the prints available on this site, or you would like to see something in a different size or with custom framing options, please contact me.


Dora Knuteson is an artist in Naples, Florida specializing in tropical, floral and coastal themes. Her work — inspired by the sunshine and beautiful beaches of southwest Florida — is characterized by its lively brushwork and vibrant color.

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