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Despite increasing awareness, widespread use and ubiquitous display at shows such as ArtExpo New York and ArtExpo Las Vegas (now defunct), there is still confusion about how to pronounce Giclée.
My apologies to French speakers who find my American accent foreign to their ears. It’s nevertheless a far improvement from “gick lee” and “gee clay” and other abominations that are excruciatingly foreign to just about anybody’s ears with exception of those who mangle the pronunciation.
The following is taken from the Wikipedia entry for Giclée:
Giclée (from French), commonly pronounced “zhee-clay,” is an invented term for the process of making fine art prints from a digital source using ink-jet printing.
Much of the nomenclature for art prints are related to the French language, which is not surprising since the art form evolved in France. For instance, artist’s proofs are often denoted as Épreuve d’Artiste or E.A.; a Pochoir is a print made using a stencil; a Bon à Tirer proof translates to “good to print”; and Hors Commerce meaning “before the sale” are print impressions annotated H.C. which are supposedly “not for sale.” While using foreign language terms, especially French ones, adds an elegance and hint of romance to the use for many Americans, the terms in their native French are merely serviceable words used to accurately describe various aspects of fine art printing business.
The early pioneers of digital printing therefore naturally gravitated to the use of a French word to help describe what might otherwise have been called a digital print or computer-generated print or other distinctly non-romantic techie term. Digital artist and digital art are more commonly accepted as fine art these days. These, however, were not terms one wanted to describe a new fine art printing technique in the early ’90s before Windows 95, AOL, the Mosaic browser and other transforming technologies became common place along with the rise of the World Wide Web. If you want the full and best story on what a Giclée is and the real story of the genesis of the term, read my previous blog posts, What is a Giclée. It has links to the most accurate and succinct information on the subject.