Most likely the source of this goes back to the early days of ink jet printing when early prints had a very short useful life. Stan recalls back to 1985 and buying a simple graphics program that would create images in 16 colors... exciting! Then he obtained his first color printer, a desktop model made by IBM, the only desktop printer available at that time. It was thrilling to see the first 8.5x11 color prints appear, even if colors looked a bit washed out. However after pinning these prints to his studio wall where they sat in full window light Stan's enthusiasm turned to dismay as the prints began to fade in a matter of weeks, and some colors were almost gone in two months. It was clear that these early prints, however exciting, were not all that permanent. What had been an attractive color image just about disappeared, becoming a mostly "white on white" piece of paper.
Now perhaps this was to be expected as IBM was making this early color printer for the business community. It was made for the office environment where people were producing reports and papers. It was intended to help make these more colorful and exciting to those reading the papers, and perhaps offer better communication. This printer was certainly not made for the art community and IBM never envisioned it becoming a tool to print art pictures. However Stan saw this potential and began to use it for making his art works, but works with limited lifetime. It also turned out that even if off the wall and stored in a drawer the inks continued their fading although more slowly.
The development of printer technology has always lagged behind that of computers. The period between 1985 and now has seen the gradual improvement in ink jet printing so that currently we have available printers, inks and media that we are told will last at least 50 years without significant fading, and even longer if printed with particular inks and specially coated media, and displayed in museum type conditions. However we seem to carry with us the old early fears about the quick fading qualities of ink jet prints even though through a lot of research and development the display life of certain Giclee ink jet prints is much longer than with other art media. One of the first questions still being asked by someone considering buying a Giclee print is "how long will it last"? Perhaps this is the continuation of that old worry that these prints may one day turn back to "white on white", but the fact is that this will probably never happen again as technology continues to improve what we make these prints with, and their longevity is assured. This does not mean that there will not be some fading and color shifts over time but the likelihood gets less and less each day.
Giclee Fine Art Printing by Stan Bowman