Artist’s statement about etchings and giclees, by Richard Stauffacher 

In the world of computer-generated images, there is no clear line between what is original and what is a copy; a situation that has always existed with regard to the world of art in general. (Artists frequently borrow from other artists, or from themselves, employ assistants or students, use all kinds of technology, etc.)

The important thing when selling or purchasing art is clear and full disclosure on the part of the artist, as well as the buyer’s understanding of the terms used in the disclosure. 

My website contains both hand colored etchings, which are considered “original graphics” because I research and conceive the image, design and create the plates by hand, print each piece by individually inking, wiping, and printing the image from the plate to the piece of paper. (There are multiple images from one plate, so this would not be as “original” as say a watercolor or oil-painting, where there is only one original produced directly by the artist.) So far, all of my etchings have been printed by me. I print etchings for other artists, which is a very common and accepted practice in printmaking. After printing the etching (on the ones that have color) I personally, individually hand color each one by painting it with watercolor. This takes a lot of time and work, which is reflected in the price. 

The giclees (in my case) are what I mostly think of as high-quality reproductions. I work with a graphic artist to scan the image from one of my etchings into a computer, edit it, and print it on a high quality printer. They are printed on 100% rag paper (which lasts longer than other kinds) with inks that are resistant to fading.  I usually try to get them to look as close as possible to the original, but I’m also open to a different approach which is using the computer as a creative tool and not just as a copy machine. Bottom line with giclees: what you see is what you get!

How to tell the difference 

  1. Look at the sticker on the back. It will say either "Giclee", or "original Hand Colored etching" (or "original Etching" or "monochrome Etching" for etchings that are not hand colored). 
  1. Lightly feel the edge of the image with your fingertip. If there is a bump, it’s an etching. The bump is created by the paper being pressed down over the edge of the plate during the printing process. 
  1. Look at the price. I price my giclees a lot lower than the etchings.

I sign and title each of  my giclees but don't number them. This is my endorsement, indicating that the image content is by me, and that I think it is a good piece of work.