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An artist has a difficult choice to make after finishing creating a painting, drawing, print, or similar work of flat wall art.

The choice is… Does he or she frame the finished work, or not?

  • Obviously the finished artwork would look better in a nice frame.

  • It would be ‘ready to hang’.

  • The artist might even be able to get frames made for a competitive price because they are potential regular customers of a framer.

  • The artist can choose a frame that compliments the artwork.

  • The artist has a lot of experience and track record in choosing a frame whereas a new collector might not have so much.

Black Cab in room setting

All in all it looks like a no-brainer. Artists should provide frames with their artwork.


  • The artist doesn’t know where the art will be displayed.

  • The frame is the crucial link between the artwork and the setting.

  • The collector is deprived of the creative input into the pleasure potential available from the artwork.

  • The artist will have to take into account, or add on, the pre-paid cost of a frame even if the collector doesn’t want it.

  • The temporary advantage of a ‘finished and ready to hang’ product could cost more than the collector wishes.

  • Transport of a framed drawing or paper print would include damageable frame and fragile glass.

  • Postage, packaging, and extra insurance could add sizeable significant prohibitive costs to the product

So it is tricky.

There are some solution options to this dilemma.

Firstly, the artist can create ‘ready to hang but unframed’ work. Canvases can be stretched to avoid visible stapled edges and then painted or taped to present and hang the artwork neatly without a frame. This solution is not so suitable for paper art.

Secondly, the artist can provide a choice of ready-made frames that the collector could choose from if they want a frame. This option is really only OK if the artist creates work in standard sizes. The artist would invest in a set of frames that could be re-used on other artwork if the collector doesn’t want any of the available frames.

Thirdly, the artist can liaise with a frame-maker who works with the potential collector after the artwork has be purchased from the artist. This arrangement could offer repeat business to the framer and thus get a good value frame price for the collector.

Black Cab in Gold Frame

I have tried all of these ‘solutions’. They all have worked well. It all depends on where the collector sees the artwork, and where the art will eventually be hung.

If the art is displayed on a wall in a gallery exhibition, or at an art-fair in a booth, then the work is likely to be seen by the potential collector in a context that favours ‘ready to hang’ framed work. Especially so if the art has only a short journey from gallery wall to collectors home.

If the artwork is in the artists studio, or at a trade-only show, then the unframed, least expensive, and safety plus ease of transport, option is much more important.

However, there is a new game in town. The Internet. Online galleries are the place where more and more potential collectors will see and choose their art.

The Internet online gallery is open twenty-four hours a day and every day of the year. Everybody in the world can see the art if they choose to search for it in the comfort of their own home. Art lovers and potential art collectors can browse through collections while sitting on a train or during a coffee break at work.

This is where we artists can show our work, in a frame or not in a frame, without obliging our potential collectors to accept and buy our choice.

Black Cab  6" x 6" framed

So that is what I am trying to do. I have simulated a small variety of frames and settings to display my paintings and prints. I can show the image, without a frame or with a frame, and in various sizes as examples.

I can only show a small range from the zillions of framing choices available.

It is not a perfect way to show our artwork, but it is the growing way, and it is an interesting project.

Have a look and let me know what you think, please.

Black Cab by Colin Ruffell

Examples shown; Black Cab unframed, Black Cab in room setting, Black Cab in small frame, Black Cab in gold frame.


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