Hand printed, Digital and Giclee Prints Explained

Today, when referring to specifically to artwork, the word ‘print’ is used to describe both digitally reproduced and hand-printed work. It is not always clear to prospective print buyers which process has been used to reproduce the print and the advances and accessibility of digital printing technology has resulted in some confusion.

Please note: I am referring here to the method by which the print has been reproduced or printed — not created. Advances in digital technology and the development of sophisticated design & illustration software means that artists often use digital design and manipulation techniques in the creation of their art. Indeed many artists have even replaced their traditional sketchbooks with a computer! Combining digital elements with traditional printmaking techniques (to make a ‘hybrid’ print) has revealed exciting and limitless possibilities for printmakers today. However a hand-printed print must still have been reproduced by hand.

Handmade Prints

Examples of traditional print-making processes include linocut, woodcut, etching, screen printing, monoprint and collograph.

Creating an original print using one of these processes usually involves many hours in the studio, infinite patience and experience with an array of chemicals, plates and (often ancient) equipment!

 Original hand-made prints are produced from a printing plate which can be cut, etched or constructed by hand or created digitally, or a combination of both.
Lino cut plate  etched printing plate  carved wood printing plate
Inks are then mixed and rolled out by hand and the image is pressed onto paper by hand or passed through a hand-operated press. Each print, although it may be one of a numbered series (or edition) is a unique, original, hand-crafted piece of art.
old etching press  old relief platen press  old bookbinders press

Although the image is the same in an edition of hand-made prints, no two are exactly identical as each one has been individually inked and printed. Slight differences in the amount of ink applied and the pressure on the press make each print unique.

If you look closely at my original hand-made lino-prints you can see differences in texture and sheen between the ink and the paper. The traditional oil based inks I use are slightly raised on the paper and have a soft sheen which contrasts with the velvety matt surface of the paper.

detail of hand printed linocut by debbie kendall

Hand-made prints are an affordable way of owning an original piece of art that is not a digital reproduction.

Digital and Giclee Prints

These are prints that have been reproduced using a sophisticated, professional inkjet printer, from a digital file, onto fine art paper, photographic paper or canvas. They are reproduction prints (copies) which are not considered original works of art and do not fall into the category of printmaking.


Giclee prints (pronounced ‘jee-clay —  from a French term meaning to spray or squirt) are archival quality inkjet prints of artwork from a digital file using special lightfast inks. They are perfect for producing high quality, light-fast, affordable copies of original artwork e.g. oil paintings, watercolours or drawings. All the copies will be completely identical.

The quality of colour reproduction of a Giclee print is exceptional, however whilst a Giclee print will give a convincing rendition of texture (for example the peaks and troughs of oil paint on a canvas) a closer look, or touch, will reveal that the texture is an illusion. The only real texture on a Giclee print is that provided by the substrate onto which it is printed (eg canvas, watercolour paper).

When printed onto an archival quality substrate, a Giclee print can last for many years without deteriorating or fading (exactly how many years depends on the quality of the printer, inks and substrate).

Digital prints may be created in several ways:

The image may have been designed and created entirely on a computer using an illustration & design software program.

Artists may have scanned hand drawn sketches into their computer which have been further manipulated digitally.

Original, one-off art can also be scanned at very high resolution to create a digital file. For example, my Quintessentially British print was originally drawn by hand in pen and ink — the only way to make more than one copy (apart from drawing it from scratch again) was to scan the original and reproduce it digitally.


A Dog is the Best Medicine

Ta Da! Here is my latest piece of work…

A dog is the best medicine linoprint and collage by debbie kendall

Ask any dog lover and they will tell you how good their dog makes them feel. Whether we are feeling sad, grumpy, irritable or under the weather, somehow dogs have the ability to make us feel better about life.

My dog, Figo, can immediately smooth over any family rift — at the first sign of raised voices he comes rushing over wagging his tail and never fails to get us all smiling again.
I created this print in honour of a dog’s gift to make us feel better, whatever our situation.

But there is something that makes this print really unique — it is printed onto an ephemera collage of vintage, original pharmacy labels from old medicine bottles. These are very collectable and have a wonderful array of old typefaces, both scripts and block letters. They are the lovely, aged, mellow colour of old parchment.

dog inspired linoprint detail on collage by debbie kendall

This is not a pre-printed digitally reproduced background – I make a unique, individual collage of actual, original labels for each print, so each one is different.There will only be 100 of these prints and each are individually signed and numbered on the reverse.

medicine bottle label collage by debbie kendall

The size of the paper (the labels go to the edge) is approx. 300 x 300 mm (11 3/4”) square.I have chosen to make frames for these prints out of reclaimed wood, which echoes the vintage appeal of the labels.

The frames are made from what ever wood I can source and each frame has its own pattern of knots, grain, dinks, scratches, nail heads, rusty staples, wonky edges and aged patina.

The size of the framed print is around 43 cms (17”) square.

reclaimed wood picture frame by debbie kendall  recalimed cedar wood picture frame by debbie kendall
Linoprint and collage in handmade frame by the enlightened hound
Prints come ready to hang and are fitted with crystal clear acrylic glass.
Available unframed or framed from the Enlightened Hound’s Website

Uppercase Magazine Press

I am, as they say, well chuffed, to be included in the wonderful design magazine, Uppercase  this quarter.

Uppercase Magazine Issue 17

In each issue the editors select 3 subscribers to profile based on their work and answers to deep and meaningful questions, specifically:

1. How creative are you in your daily life?

2. What are you most curious about?

3. What is your most prized possession?

4. What is you most favourite letter of the alphabet and why?

5. What is your favourite colour?

6. What is your preferred creative tool?

So here I am in Issue 17 (with Figo, my Portuguese Water Dog)!

Debbie Kendall in Uppercase magazine

Uppercase is a hugely inspirational design magazine which focuses on graphic design, illustration and crafting ~ the magazines’s tagline is “for the creative and curious”. Published quarterly, the magazine is beautifully presented and has an eclectic and imaginative mix of articles that spark the imagination, inspire and inform.

Often nostalgic, in this issue the magazine features scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers ~ what a trip down memory lane ~ and my two teenage boys didn’t even know what they were! Fortunately I could show them with the cherry scratch ‘n’ sniff postcards that came with this issue of Uppercase.

Ideally, go and buy the magazine from one of the worldwide stockists and be totally inspired by the wonderful content… but if you don’t manage to get hold of a copy and want to know my answers to those deep and meaningful questions ~ here they are!

How are you creative in your daily life? I have my best ideas on my morning walks with my dog, Figo. My phone has a voice recorder and I return each day with lots of audio notes. Walking in the countryside frees my mind from (self-induced) creative pressure and helps me think clearly. I spend the rest of my working day sketching up ideas, creating on my Apple Mac, printing in my studio and a surprisingly large amount of my time with my creative marketing hat on, for the business side of being a designer/maker.
What are you most curious about? The myriad of unlimited possibilities of printmaking. The timeless and unshakeable bond between humans and dogs. The stories behind other designer/makers journeys.
What is your most prized possession? Figo, my Portuguese Water Dog (named after Loius Figo – the Portuguese footballer!). He is always there, devoted and loyal, incredibly calming and very difficult to be anything by happy in his company. He is the inspiration for my printmaking.
What is your favourite letter of the alphabet and why? The capital ‘D’. Solid and upright yet vulnerable with its two rounded corners – give it a little push from the left and over it goes… the first letter of my name and for Dog.
What is your favourite colour? Sludge. What an onomatopoeic word! I love how it can’t be defined as green or brown or grey but is fabulous nondescript mixture of them all. It can be subtle and strong and a great foil for other brighter colours.
What is your preferred creative tool? My Swiss mushroom handled woodcarvers tools which I use for carving images on my linoleum printing plates. Deadly sharp & beautifully made.