A true masterpiece does not tell everything.― Albert Camus
The art business is full of jargon and terminology that can easily lead to confusion. Prints is an example. Artists, marketers, journalists, buyers, and others loosely use the term “prints” to describe various 2D media. The range includes open edition posters, digital fine art reproductions (aka giclees), and limited edition graphics such as serigraphs, stone lithographs, and more.
Digital Art and Digital Printing Changed Many Things
I’ve been in art marketing for decades. In 2007, I saw the need for another fine art term. I called it “convergent media.” By then, the words “digital artists,” “digital painting,” and “digital art” were in everyday use.
I recognized digital artists were using complex, multiple steps to create and print 2D art. They were making digitized art and outputting electronic files for digital printing on various substrates. I coined the term “convergent media” to appropriately describe their iterative process and set it apart from another relatively new art term, “giclee.”
The Rise and Fall of Giclee As An Art Term
By 2007, “giclee” was in widespread use. At the advent of the digital fine art printing era, there was controversy as artists began making expensive, limited-edition digital reproductions using inkjet printing technology.
Giclee was used to help overcome stigmas about digital art prints for several reasons. Artists making the earliest digital prints did not use conservation-grade papers, methods, and inks. It was an alternative to “computer prints,” which many consumers took negatively.
Jack Duganne, a digital fine art printing pioneer, coined the term “giclee” to add mystique and elegance in describing digital fine art reproductions. Giclee did add fuel to the tremendous growth of fine art prints produced on inkjet printers. High-end, fine art print publishers, were using “giclee” to market digital prints made by scanning and reproducing original fine art as the source material for the print.
The Need for a New Term Was Evident to Me
A growing number of artists and painters were creating unique images using digital tools. Their art was not a reproduction of a painting, which is what most in the industry thought of as giclees. These digital artists needed a new term specific to their work. And not a marketing term, as was the case with giclees. (It’s become passe due to marketers appropriating it to advertise such things as “giclee lampshades” and “giclee duvets.”) The title of my How to Price Digital Fine Art Prints book purposely left out giclee.
Unlike most giclee prints that started as scans of original art, digital artists create art that began as a digital file. The finished product was 2-dimensional art printed with many substrate options, including paper, canvas, metal, wood, and more. Digital artists struggle now as then with what to call their creations. I offer a solution.
Allow Me to Introduce You to Convergent Media
My suggestion is “Convergent Media.” It borrows from the established art term “mixed-media.” Like mixed media, the final iteration requires a mix of products, objects, and inputs to make the final artwork.
I believe the term is beneficial for digital artists, photographers, and painters. It describes and paints a mental image of the process. A Convergent Media artwork runs through a gamut of stages that converge to create a digital fine art print. Thus, the name.
Convergent Media Steps
The similarity to the many processes in creating mixed media inspired me to coin the term “Convergent Media.”
The first step is image capture. It begins with either a digital photograph or image creation using a Wacom tablet or comparable tablet. The second is manipulating the image file using Painter, Photoshop, Illustrator, or similar software, sometimes using several image software programs. The third is calibrating the image’s colors on the monitor to match the digital printer output. Fourth is digitally printing the image onto various substrates, including paper, canvas, vinyl, metal, wood, and more. The final steps are enhancing and preserving the art with additional hand embellishments and treatments for conservation and artistic effect.
Convergent Media Stands Up Better Than Giclee
Digital artists and photographers who also use advanced Photoshop or similar image manipulation software, digital painting, and other methods to complete an artwork are prime candidates to use Convergent Media.
I see “giclee” as a marketing term, whereas “Convergent Media” is explicitly descriptive. Mixed media artists tell a story with a simple explanation of blending techniques and processes to make the finished artwork. A mixed-media artist will give the details to a point and let it go at that. For instance, there could be torn paper, cloth, paint, wax, items from nature, and so forth that went into constructing the piece.
But, the exact steps in rendering are not a subject of conversation. Just as a mixed-media artist doesn’t give trite detail such as, “I used a No. 2 lead pencil to outline on a gessoed canvas.” I don’t believe a convergent media artist needs to give all the details and step-by-step image creation to satisfy a buyer. They are subjectively and emotionally buying the finished vision of the artist’s imagination and creativity, not their computer skills.
How to Use Convergent Media
“Convergent Media Artist” is an accurate, honest description of a person using current technologies and techniques to create art. Convergent Media distinguishes from using giclee and expands on the term, digital art.
I agree that “Convergent Media” begs a brief explanation, as does mixed media, but it does not blur the meaning as giclee does. I think it enhances without detraction; it embodies what’s available now and in the future for cutting-edge artists to incorporate into their body of work.
Here is a suggestion for how to use convergent media to describe your art. Please modify and use freely.
I express my artistic vision through an intricate multi-step process. Publishing my art prints requires expertly merging a variety of digital and traditional art making skills with innovative technology. The process is known as “Convergent Media” and these exquisite prints are only possilble through it.— Barney Davey