The Challenges of Framing Art | Art Marketing Minute

Share Your Thoughts

What challenges have you faced when framing your work? What advice would you give to someone facing framing challenges? What questions do you have about framing your art? Share your questions, concerns, thoughts and opinions about framing in the comments below.

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

60 Comments

  1. Hi Jason, I am excited about the idea of gallery wrapped stretchers and I like floater frames as well. Im seeing thinner frames being used in traditional work, and I like they way these look, especially with contemporary home decor, or any decor for that matter.

    1. Lori,

      When you say thinner frames, are you talking about 3/4″ stretchers vs 1.5″ or do you mean thinner moldings?
      Thanks!

  2. Great video Jason. I found a local framers/art shop with two gifted members of staff (Artcetra, Bournemouth, England). They opened my eyes to framing choices that I wouldn’t have considered. For example mounting and glazing my oil on board paintings. The step change in overall quality of presentation meant my works suddenly started getting accepted for exhibitions and a recent critique commented on my trademark frame. I have been targeting the commissions market up to now, but am finding your posts invaluable in getting ready to approach some galleries. Many thanks. Pib

      1. Usually, a painting done on board (masonite, Uspon board, wood, etc.)–as opposed to canvas. Occasionally, a canvas that has been attached to a substrate (rather than stretched) before painting, though that’s more often referred to as a “canvas panel.” Because they don’t have the depth that stretcher bars create, they can be used with shallower frames. On the other hand, they tend to be heavier that stretched canvas, especially in larger sizes, which some frames might not be robust enough to support.

    1. Thanks for this Paul, living close to Bournemouth I will check them out. I have found a distinct lack of artistic eye with local framers and a push to one size fits all type of approach.

  3. I use gallery wrapped canvases and paint the edges as I paint the painting. I like the way the painting seems to come out of the wall. I have done some small paintings with an oil pen drawing on plexiglass over the top. I had these framed with a 1/4 inch spacer between the the painting and the plexi. They are small, 20×20, but it cost me 20% of the price of the painting to have them framed. Obviously should have priced them differently.

  4. This is such great information! I’d never thought about the 7-15% general rule and I’ll definitely consider this in the future when pricing framed work. Though much of my work is sold w/out a frame on gallery-wrap canvas or panels for a lower over-all cost and a more contemporary look, I’m very blessed that one of my galleries has fantastic framers who help me choose the right frame when I need one.

  5. since I have been painting and marketing for aver fifty years, I have run the gamut with Distressed, Gold and then Black frames to please the clients in my galleries. The wrapped canvas helps with that problem but the Museum gift Shop that carries my work, will not take a piece that is wrapped and demands a frame.
    I now use a simple border that “holds” the painting from “leaking out” and that’s that. Thanks, for being there. Bonnie Casey

  6. Thanks for this information. It is something I have struggled to find out, to no avail.
    Now for the question left uncovered: For your on-line artists, should a frame be included in the price? If so, should the art be displayed in the frame?
    Thanks for all your helpful information.

  7. Hi Jason. Your talk on framing is very helpful, including your comments on pricing with the frame. And the issues you note resonate with problems that I have has for some time. I paint landscapes in oil and acrylic and I like to use both wood panels and canvas. Long ago I tried to purchase standardized size frames so that I could re-use them with different paintings. you advice on finding a few designs that fit with one’s work and that help identify one’s style is very helpful. Lately, I have reserved framing for the panels, which are difficult to display without a frame and have used gallery-wrap stretched canvas for nearly all of my larger oils in order to avoid the frame. In order to achieve some sense of style and uniformity, I paint the edge of all my stretched canvases with a deep, neutral Paynes Grey. This approach at least minimizes the problem of needing to frame large works for exhibition. Thanks again for you talk and suggestions

  8. If you are running a legitimate business and have a resale or tax exempt certificate then it would be wise to look into finding a quality wholesale framing or supply company that you can work with. This is especially true if you have a good eye for presentation and don’t need the help of an experienced framer to put together a nice presentation. This can be a way to significantly cut down on the cost of framing to maximize profits without sacrificing the quality of presentation.

  9. Hello Jason, It’s a tough one – framing. I have a long background as a professional framer, although I no longer solicit clients. I only make frames for artworks created by me or my wife. For a while, I ripped my own molding out of poplar, but a few years back I began ordering two or three profiles in ash from a regional hardwood supplier. Made to my own specifications, I purchase one to two thousand feet at a time. This lasts a year or more, depending on my needs. I sand and finish the molding with a simple polyurethane satin finish. Sometimes I stain the wood with black or titanium white or other colors of oil paint prior to the final finish, but most often it is left the lovely natural tone of ash (kind of like a Louisville Slugger baseball bat). For paper borne art, we use a simple white rag mat board. The consistency offers a clean presentation. We have never had a complaint or a demand for reframing. Admittedly, this solution requires some investment and knowhow and time. In my opinion, the best frame is the one that goes unnoticed. If the art stands out, you have succeeded.

  10. Thank you! Very thought-provoking. I was just thinking this morning about the subject of frames and wondering if I need to rethink this. I paint very traditional realism and I think my paintings look best framed but maybe I need to look at a more cost-efficient and contemporary framing style. I had invested in some frames that I felt were perfect for shows but ended up selling the paintings unframed through an online gallery I am working with. Now I have all these frames I still keep thinking of as being perfect for when I paint new pieces and find a regular gallery. But maybe not…… I will have to figure this out.

  11. Thank you, very timely. We are struggling right now with museum glass versus acrylic for a national traveling exhibit of photographs. We get opinions both ways, any ideas for what museums, exhibitors prefer. We expect it to be in circulation for 5 years or more.

  12. I’ve come to use very simple frames in a floater style for my oil paintings. Using this type of frame protects the work, finishes the painting nicely, and aren’t very expensive. I’ve begun using the same style with my pastels as well, floating the paper without use of mats behind the glass.
    I agree with Allen Smith, you want your patrons to admire your art, not your frames.

    1. How can you use a floating frame for work on paper? Generally, you have to put work on paper behind glass. I’ve mounted a copper surfave on a cradle in a floating frame. But I’m trying to understand how you can do that with for example a pastel painting.

  13. I take one of two approaches- make paintings or prints that are standard sizes. This allows the client to drop it into a frame themselves or I can do so for them at a nominal cost above my cost for a premade frame to their color specs and molding style. Some clients even appreciate artwork being placed into salvaged frames (older frames touched up/repaired) from flea markets/antique markets to match their decor or older artwork in the same space. Or even take a larger size frame (if the piece is not standard sized) and cut the frame down and reattach the corners…and cut the glass down if it is a print (using the glass cutter on a matting machine).

    My second approach is to buy prefinished frame molding and do a frame from scratch. Unfinished stock can be useful if you want to just carry a few types of molding but allow many different colors. I must admit I usually go with option one if at all possible.

    I would really encourage artists to buy at least a matting machine. Then they can step it up and move into the necessary wood tools- a compound saw with fine-tooth carbide blade (purchased mine used), right-angle clamps/straps, some rudimentary hand tools, and a compressor and nailer + some touch-up wax/pens…and a point driver makes life easier. Matting and framing it yourself really is the whole package- much like stretching your own canvases (which many artists insist on). In fact- I purchased my own glicee printer and do all my own prints as well unless I need a rather large scale print.

  14. This is great information, and covers so many questions that I struggled with. I started with a local framer, choosing frames specific to each piece. I found it stressful and time consuming – and when several works were displayed together, the different frames were distracting. Ultimately I found two custom framers and, while more expensive, (especially as the framers are across the country for me, so I have to add shipping to the costs) I believe they are worth it. The quality is excellent and makes a statement about the value of the artwork. I have chosen 2 profiles that I like, one for bigger more expensive work, and one for my smaller pieces. A third profile works for work I really want to highlight. All ‘play well’ together, so a display looks cohesive.
    For pricing I have been simply adding the cost to the price, which does mean that the galleries are getting commission on the frames as well. I need to look at the 7-15% numbers, and think about if and how I change pricing so that I am recouping the full cost of the frames.
    Thanks for your ever-valuable input!

  15. I am a professional framer as well as someone who creates art. Thanks for pointing out the value of framing. Artist’s often ask me why is custom framing so expensive? I say, “I put as much patience, care and quality into my framing as I do into my artwork”, as I know, a great piece of art, can be visual ruined by a poor framing job, or a frame that is wrong aesthetically for the art… framing can be an art form of its own when done well. Also, framing is more than just presentation… some people fail to realise the importance of archival methods and materials. A work of high value can be destroyed over time, if these are not considered properly. I’ve seen painting that have baiscally rotted in their frames, due to acidic mounts and microbes that have penetrated poorly made frames.

  16. Hi all,

    I am formerly a frame shop and gallery owner. I think the most important thing about a frame is that it not “out show” or distract from the artwork. If you see the frame first, your framing diminishes and makes the picture hard to see. Especially for contemporary work, natural woods or woods with light white stain may be appropriate. If one can standardize their work to several sizes, you can increase economy on bulk or mini-bulk purchases. Wherever possible you should use Ultra-filtering plexiglass (UF 3 [95% UF] or UF4[98%UF]) for paper-borne art. I found that a good frame could increase the saleability price of a piece by 30% to as much as 300%. I believe that Jason’s framing formula is a good guideline and generous, if not extraordinary, on the commission side.

  17. Interesting and informative video. You say early in the video that the cost of the frame cuts the artist’s profit. I think that is frequently true. In the second half of the video, you argue against that idea. Before watching your video, I hadn’t fully considered that every dollar that I spend on a frame increases the gallery’s profit by the same amount. You mention the range of 7-15% for the cost of a frame, and give the 15% example of a $1000 painting with a $150 frame. You show that for the artist to make $500 on a $1000 painting, the retail price for framed art needs to jump up to $1300, $150 to buy the frame, $150 to pay the gallery for selling the frame. When the painting sells, the artist may resent making $500, while the gallery makes $650. Of course, that artist could make the same argument for the cost of paint, canvas, and the expense of every other material. It all adds up to show how little margin there is for the artist’s skill, ideas, and labor. You also mentioned that if the buyer rejects the frame, they will be offered a “framing allowance” discount, equal to what the artist has invested. In your example, the framing allowance of $150 would drop the retail price to $1150. If I understand correctly, the artist now makes $575, and gets the frame back. It’s easy to see why artists want to avoid frames.

  18. Framing is an issue, especially if you are taking work to exhibitions or moving it between galleries. Corners end up bashed and sometimes it is the galleries that do it… If I have fifty paintings framed up at any time, you can see how much money is tied up in the inventory. I am a watercolourist, so have ended up choosing a couple of simple neutral frame styles in a set range of sizes from a ready made frame company. I then assemble the pictures myself, which means I keep costs down, I can re-use frames and if they don’t suit the buyer, I can sell unframed. The downside is that it is a compromise. I would double mount and choose a coloured slip if I had my way, but that will have to be for when I can command high enough prices! I have just started working in watercolour on canvas and that is very liberating, as you don’t need to worry about glass, mounts or frames – yippee! Oh and you haven’t mentioned the weight of the glass. If I am taking six paintings to a gallery, they do weigh alot. Your points about pricing are true in the UK too. The only time galleries will not take a commission on the framing element of the cost is if it is pre-negotiated on a commissioned piece – but they don’t like it!

  19. You are right, Jason, it is a challenge. This past year I switched to a more contemporary framing approach and my sales increased dramatically. Now, instead of framing with traditional double white mat and glass and a gold wood frame, I am float framing a protected painting (using archival UV and water-protectant sprayed finish) inside a flat wide wood frame with an almost neutral metallic finish. People seem to prefer the “no glass” approach. It can work for me since my works are on a rigid board like surface and I use it on all of my paintings now. I have switched out the frame back to the traditional framing only a few times since making the change. And I build the cost into my retail price so the gallery commission/split is not complicated for them when they pay me. The real challenge is the damage factor though. Sometimes after it leaves my care it might get a scratch which means reframing. Scratches or dings are hard to cover (can’t), so do be VERY careful when shipping your works to your galleries and clients. I try to err on the side of “bomb proof.

  20. Just thought I’d mention this here. I’ve been varnishing my watercolors for over a decade, and there have been no problems with fading. I glue 300 lb cold-pressed Arches paper to a birch or MDF panel – using Acrylic matte medium as my glue. When my watercolor painting is finished, I spray it with a UV protective gloss varnish to fix the painting. Occasionally I’ll also add a UV protective brush-on acrylic gloss varnish over the spray varnish. When it’s dry, I pop it into a frame that I would use for oil paintings – no mat-cutting and no glass. The paintings don’t fade and can be wiped off with a damp cloth to remove dust.

    1. Hi Lori, I’ve been experimenting with mounting my monotypes onto panels to avoid the framing. Do you have a preferred spray varnish? Do you spray more than once? I was thinking that I needed to gesso the panels first to protect the paper from any wood acid – what do you think?

  21. Thank you, Jason, that is useful. I too paint mostly in watercolor, which needs to matted and framed under glass or plexi, yet tends to command lower prices than other paint media, particularly as I am not yet well known. I try to keep my framing costs down by doing my own matting and ordering frames online, but the hardware provided does not accommodate a dust cover. Forget museum glass or UV-proof plexiglass, both of which would be beneficial, but which would eat up what little profit I make. As for picking frames, I have made various mistakes, such as choosing a frame that stood out too much or clashed with others, or using a thin wood molding for a large piece and finding that it flexed too much when I tried to lift the painting by the frame. I am trying to figure out what works within my budget and be more consistent.

  22. Yes, framing is definitely a touchy subject. It is also treated differently here in Germany than in the USA. Here it is normal to sell a piece without a frame – I recommend my framer (whom I totally trust) and I usually offer suggestions in various price categories. I have found that many people have asolutely no idea how expensive a custom frame can be. For exhibits, I use a series of neutral frames – either a simple wooden profile or a Nielsen aluminium. They are good for my matted works on paper and are exchangeable. Pricing is without/with frame, so the buyer has a choice and no one suffers. I have tried your suggestion of commission + frame in a gallery in New York . . . .wasn’t a great success, but am glad I at least tried it. The wrapped canvas is undoubtedly the best solution, bu for matted works, I’m still looking.

    1. Your idea of offering with/without frame prices is, I think, a real win-win. I would certainly do it at an art fair where I’m the one making the display decisions, but I wonder if galleries would be willing to display a price choice like that? Or is this in effect what Jason is doing when he offers a “framing allowance”?

  23. If you work on paper, highly recommend that you stick with standard size mats and frames. Which means creating works that fit that size. You will save a lot of money, even if you are buying frames wholesale. Plus you can interchange pieces for future shows or exhibits, if needed.

    1. I’d recommend that no matter what you work on. Though on paper, you can fudge the sizing a bit by enlarging or custom cutting changing the matte opening.

  24. I’ve found that here in Tennessee, the old “frilly” frames are definitely out of style. I buy simple black frames or the gold ones for my small plein-air works so they look good together. The simple black sets off a white mat or almost any color.

  25. I work mostly in pastel on velour which not only requires a frame but is also done in a non traditional way. So finding a framer that I can trust was of the upmost importance. Due to the fact that the art must be pressed firmly up against the glass we don’t use mat board. So we go to quite a lot of effort in order to give the piece that sense of value which you normally see in galleries. I’m lucky to have found a moulding that comes in different colours but both compliments modern and traditional decors. However if the client hates the frame I’m more than happy to have it reframed. As you said I can reuse it but more importantly a sale is something to be excited about! I have on occasion even gone with the client to the framer and we try and make it a fun experience finding something that is just perfect. So my advice is as Jason says find a good framer, one you get along with and trust. Oh and one that listens to you as well. They need to trust you sometimes too!

  26. Jason, Pricing information on frames was very helpful. I see it as part of the value of the piece and it’s been a lot more palatable since I raised my prices. I’ve had 2 paintings framed and the rest I’ve done on my own due to the cost. I once had to frame about 10 oil pastel paintings for a show and that was it! No more glass! I switched to canvas. I’ve found several frame makers online. My favorite for all kinds of custom frames –from baroque birthday cakey frames to sleek metal , as well as a great selection of backing and mats–sends free 2″ samples of moulding and corner samples for a small price–but definitely worth it! I like their floating canvas frames. They come assembled and are far more affordable and look great. Working on a sturdy fabric surface like framers use, I install the canvas in the frame. Through a painting mentor I found a frame company that makes gorgeous plein air type frames, with a wide selection of colors and carving that are very affordable. I took a workshop with a painter who is so prolific that he has to make his own frames and now sells custom frames to artists for a very reasonable cost. He’s designed about 5 mouldings (keep it simple!) milled by a local business and makes the frames with seamless corners. As a painter he has a really good idea of what works so I can send an image and ask for his feedback. At this point my strategy for framing has finally become sane and it doesn’t bug me anymore. Gallery wrapped canvases have solved the problem for my large pieces –20×20 and up. Plus it’s instant gratification for the customer since they can hang it up right away! I will add that an art consultant I work with is a great proponent of gallery wrapped paintings. This way people don’t need a frame but they can choose one if they want. By using black frames with a gold fillet or edge on them I create consistency among the paintings that require a frame. The contemporary paintings, especially ones that are on a 7/8″ canvas, are in a a floating canvas. Smaller paintings–usually landscapes on canvas board–go in a more traditional plein air frame. I shelled out over $100 for a tool to install framer’s points to fasten the board to the frame but it’s saved me a ton of money in the long run! So far this is what works for me.

  27. I paint in the reverse on glass and so frames are an essential part of the work in order to protect and present what is an otherwise fragile material. I have had to find custom framers in two countries and in both instances I have used word of mouth referrals, workshop visits and a small piece which I have them frame as a trial so that I can assess the finished product. I have very specific requirements on the framing as the painted (back surface) can’t be flush up against the backing board and how well a framer can meet both my technical requirements and my quality expectations is best judged by seeing how they handle this first piece. It took three tries after my most recent move, but I now have a framer in Brighton (UK) who not only rises to each challenge but has taken my ‘traditional/craft media’ and turned it into something compellingly modern and contemporary by employing stand-offs in the framing. For smaller pieces I do have to import smaller spec stand-offs from the US at great trouble, but the finish is worth the effort as they absolutely show the work and my unusual media off to best effect. Her advice has also led to me framing everything in white or just off white, using three different styles which can be adapted to the style and size of any of my works. This allows me to exhibit works together without worrying too much about a clash of styles, takes away the stress of deciding on a frame and as my artwork prices go up is generally reducing the overall percentage I spend on any given frame in relationship to the value of the work. Smaller works are still not such a great percentage (though I make sure I DO make money on them), but for now I think of them as my ‘gateway’ pieces and I want to keep them more affordable even if the margins are not as good as on bigger statement pieces.

  28. Great info Jason! I do most all my work on gallery wrapped canvases or cradled wood panels, so I’ve been able to avoid the whole framing conundrum. But if I ever do start doing work that needs framing, this is great info to keep in mind.

  29. This may very well make you cringe, but I use simple metal frames for my watercolors which are full sheets plus matting. Since the watercolors are delicate, the thin metal frame does not detract from the painting, the metal frame is easy to change out, it is low on cost, and it makes it easy for the person to buy the art and hang it immediately. It is also easy to store and to transport. I always tell my collector that if they want to upgrade frames at a later time, I will do so for them at my cost. I feel that this is an added bonus for them and they are more likely to buy one of my works and they get to enjoy the painting immediately. I have been in galleries that made way too many requirements: gold leaf frames, floating paper, plein air frames, wide frames,etc. I am now convinced that I will not acquiesce to the whims of a gallery owner. My experience has shown me that it is a losing proposition.

  30. Thank you for presenting this eye opening information! I have wondered for a long time how to price my paintings. Now I see that I have sold my paintings for peanuts! Most of the paintings that were sold, the buyers planned to reframe the works to fit the colors and décor of their home. The cost of the frame has always been included. People ask for a discount on the price of the painting to remove the frame. I understood that the price quoted is the “price of the painting”. The frame is an additional item at no extra cost. With your information, I definitely will have to rethink my pricing formula. Thank you for clearing a bit of the confusion!

  31. Framing is always a problem. Most of my work now is fluid abstractions which I have been executing on gallery canvases. It is a nice clean look and eliminates the need for framing. Also, if the buyer wants it framed they can certainly do that. Then they can get a frame they like as opposed to taking a frame off to reframe. On some of my bigger pieces I have been putting a black separator strip and a 3/4 inch piece of light oak. Again it is a very clean look and easy for me to execute and finish in my shop. This approach also affords a more consistent look to my work even when I radically change my palette or theme.

  32. At my last open house one of the visitors, who’d been dragged along by his wife and so was not often viewing art, was enchanted by the way I continued the painting “over the edges,” as he put it. He found it magical, he said, as if the painting were growing out of the wall. He was tickled… and I was pleased. (His wife actually bought a smaller piece, one that had to be framed! LOL)

  33. As a small artist with smaller and less expensive work, I have found the best way to save money on framing non-canvas pieces is to create my art to fall within pre-existing frame dimensions. So for example, I’d approach a portrait by knowing the portrait would need to fit an 8×10 opening in an 11×14 matted frame. Then, I would shop for pre-made 11×14 frames and mats. Anything of a custom size would necessitate me passing along significant framing costs to clients who can often barely afford the work in the first place. (Not because I charge very much, though.)

  34. HI Jason,
    Great presentation!
    My experience using custom closed corner frames has been that collectors appreciate quality frames, as you mentioned. I keep costs down by woking in a selection of limited sizes so that frames on pieces that don’t sell in a given season can be used to frame new work for the next season in the gallery. This saves on shipping costs as well if the gallery is willing to reframe for me. Over the years the selection of sizes that I consistently use has changed, i.e. from 1:2 ratios to squares for example, but it saves cash outlay to paint on a limited variety of sizes from season to season.
    All the Best
    Marin Dobson

  35. I’ve always said that the frame is a mediator between the painting and its environment, and without knowing its eventual home, how can I know what frame works best? So I raid Goodwill. (hey, once if found a still-in-shrink-wrap 16X20″ honey oak for $8) Since I take a lot of pictures to my county fair (where they get stacked on top of each other and slid off and other things that are not kind to frames), I look for simple frames that either don’t show scratches (like barnwood) or are easily doctored (like semi-gloss black). With what people are willing to pay around here, even that makes framing 12-50% (or more) of what people are willing to pay (unless I get lucky, like with the honey oak).

    A friend of mine deliberately buys cheap frames (at least for his smaller works), expecting that the buyer will get the frame they really want themselves. I’d say 70% of his work he doesn’t bother framing at all.

  36. I think the difficulty lies primarily in those just beginning their career. Frames have two main functions. First, it is to flatter and enhance the art work. A good framer can make an immense difference in the attention grabbing ability of your work. A gallery that requires frames (not many today) do so because it helps sales. Second, the frame is to protect the art work. Obvious, if you are talking pastel, watercolor on paper, etc. less obvious on works on canvas. The dings and nicks inevitable on almost any frame over time are instead going to be on your paintings gallery wrapped without frame. Frames and framing in the past were respectable and valued. Today artists seem either ignorant or expect the art to be a very short lived part of the throw away nature of our modern society maybe.
    Yes, I am both an artist and professional framer for over 45 years.
    Note: Most intelligent framers will want to establish a working relationship with artist because it can be very good for them both. I have given artists discounts on framing all my working life to help create that long term relationship.

  37. Hello 😀 Thank you for all the work you do!
    While I haven’t read the oodles of comments yet, I am going to share my “fantasy” if you will about what I’d love to see, especially since I LOVE to do art work on PAPER. I do view framing as a big gnarley bear! Jason explains perfectly why it’s such a bear in the video. I’d love to see artwork shown in as minimum a frame as possible. This is simply because everything Jason has said is so true. I would love to simply display my works on paper behind only plexi or glass for a gallery hanging, and leave the framing and matting completely up to the buyer according to their needs. Why buy and do an expensive frame when it’s only going to be changed and wasted? Yes they say it boost sales, but it can backfire too. Everyone’s taste and needs are soooooooooooo different. It’s especially trickey when an artist is just starting out because it IS SOOOOOOOOOOO EXPENSIVE!!! Plus the type of frame added can entirely change to look and feel of the work.

  38. I’m late posting but thought this experience was worthwhile to share. Framing is a terrific expense for artists that affects the retail cost of a piece. I was out today just for the companionship with a friend who has a vintage shop and market. While she picked things at Goodwill to resale I sifted through frames. I was shocked at the value. I found several frames I could use for my work. Some were packaged new and never used, some with commercial work. I found three pristine frames for a few dollars I would have paid over $100 for. Some were off sized. I decided I could buy the frame first and then size the piece for the frame. My usual process is to size the piece and find or commission a frame for it. I had it backwards – an inch or two makes little difference. Find the frame first, then size the work for the frame.

  39. I find it depends on the type of art I am doing. Traditional landscapes in oil or acrylics go in a traditional, more elegant frame. I tend to leave Abstracts on canvas I framed, although I do paint the edges of the canvas, either in a solid colour from the painting, or I continue the painting on to the edge of the canvas. The exception to this is when I do watercolours or pen-and-ink work. I have found over time that unless you want to go to the expense of a custom made frame, it is best to work out the size of your painting support – paper – before hand so that it will fit into a standard, ready-made frame at the end. For instance , if my support is sized 24 inches high X 16 inches wide, and I want a 4 inch border all round I will need a 32 X 24 inch frame. Depending on the work I like to carry the colour through to the frame, so it might often be a white frame for a watercolour, or a dark frame for a photo or print.

    1. Another option from a, “framers” perspective, would be to cut and rejoin a frame to fit your work (smaller than the frame). You will often need an inch or more extra moulding in both dimensions to get a clean cut and rejoining. Any good framer can do this. Some more ornate intricate frames have what is called, “compo” the molded, patterned surface originally designed to imitate hand carved frames for a substantial cost savings. On older frames this compo can be very brittle and may crack or chip off. Your framer will know if it’s too delicate and brittle for a clean cut. Big Box framers will not do this. You will need a shop that does the work in-house.

  40. I’m a textile artist and struggle with this issue as my work needs to be away from the glass but not so far as a shadow box. My husband builds frames for special pieces in a neural beech frame but the majority have a hanging sleeve. I have painted canvas and mounted the pieces on them with mixed results.
    Still trying to answer the question for myself.
    Really love all the good advice you share! Thanks

  41. As an artist I’ve worked with galleries that do their own framing. They do a beautiful job beyond what I can afford and they still have clients ask to change them. There is no way of knowing what the collector wants so I make sure that I make my pieces look as professional and suitable and attractive as I can afford and not worry about whether or not the collector keeps it, after all it is going in their home and they have the prerogative to re-frame it how ever they like. If the gallery I’m working with does not offer framing I make sure I come up with some form of suitable framing. I really do not like the look of gallery wrapped canvas and prefer the elegant and sophistication of a classic frame to st off the artwork.

  42. Thanks you Jason for all the information and everyone for their comments. I work only on canvas so that I don’t have to stress about framing. But I have seen some art lately that is enhanced by the framing. I have also been experimenting with different supports and wonder how am I going to frame this? Knowing about the many options helps me to feel comfortable when the time comes to frame my pieces. Plus, I can always come back to this video for guidance.

  43. Thank you Jason, for your insight and knowledge in this business. I’m a digital artist and learned early that fixed sizing can reduce cost at the very beginning. My art is presented in various sizes and my margins are met by standardizing. A 12×18=print & 3”margin = 18×24 frame. Just saying the more you customize the more it cost, and that cost is on the artist. I do my own framing, cutting of archival mount broad, matte broad, dry mounting, and printing on fiber base archival media. I’ve left the framing component to the Buyer and with standardizing it even easy on them. I sale framed pieces but the frame type and glass type is agreed upon at the time of purchase of the artwork as an option. A lot of times the gallery doesn’t want to get involved with the framing, and agree to the sale of the print. I as the Artist I bill the Buyer for the Gallery the cost of the frame and glass if they wish to purchase this as an option, then the Gallery collect the commission on that sale independent of the sale of the print. My goal is to sale prints and framing is optioned to the Buyer.

  44. What is your opinion and your readers’ opinion about the following approach to recouping framing cost? (I’m writing a handbook for a community non-profit art gallery near my home.)
    Here’s what I’m suggesting artists do:
    1. On the title card, show two prices: Unframed and Framed. If the buyer doesn’t like the frame, no problem. No conversation or re-figuring required.
    2. To insure that the gallery commission is built into the “framed” price use this formula: Divide your framing cost (FC) by 1 minus the gallery commission (GC).
    I.e., Retail = FC/(1-GC%). If the frame cost you $80 and the gallery commission is 45%, the numbers are 80/(1-.45) … 80/.55 … $145 is the retail price of the frame.
    (With the handbook, I’m including our an Excel spreadsheet that automatically calculates this and many other things, to help artists price their work.)

  45. A note about framing the gallery wrapped canvases. If you have not noticed gallery wrapped canvasses are usually much deeper stretchers, 1.5″ – 2″ deep. Not many frames will cover the sides of these canvases because of this depth. The selection of framing options is fairly limited unless you are willing to have that canvas sticking out from the back of the framing package. Yes, the canvas can be re-stretched on less deep strips or the frame can be built up (customized) to cover the depth but this is an additional expense most folks are not going to anticipate. Most artists don’t anticipate this issue either. The problem is usually exacerbated when the art and frame are hung where you may be more able to see that it is pushed out from the wall and visible from the side. Wider mouldings sometimes make this less obvious. Narrow mouldings just will look like hell and must be deep enough to cover that depth.

  46. I am a photographic artist and it seems from my observations that often a photograph is mounted behind glass or transparent acrylic sheet. Yet, I like the idea of the viewer looking at the print without reflections etc from the glass and similar to a viewer looking at a painting directly. Does not having print protection like glass devalue the artwork? Or is the use of glass or similar just a convention that may not be needed today? I would welcome thoughts from readers of Jason’s video blog. Thank you.

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