I am not an expert in framing my artwork, but I know a man who is.
In fact I know quite a lot of expert picture framers. That is because I am a member of the Guild Society of Artists [GSA], which is part of The Fine Art Trade Guild [FATG]. And the Guild is the home of professional artists like me, plus the home for expert world-best picture framers.
The Guild have established themselves as the international quality control masters in the picture framing business. They have standards and examinations and qualifications in the subject. Plus hundreds of qualified members.
So I don’t need to do any more myself when I want to frame up any of my artwork. All I need to do is consult and use a FATG qualified picture framer near me.
But over the years I have learned by experience one or two other things that are relevant to an artist with unframed artwork.
COST and PROFIT
First point of interest is the cost. An artwork such as an original painting actually costs rather little to produce. The canvas cost plus paint cost could be only a few quid. The gross selling profit if the artist sells unframed can be quite healthy. But if the artwork is framed in a good quality bespoke frame the product cost will be quite a lot higher. Maybe five or six times as much would be quite usual.
So if an artist is putting on an exhibition and decides to frame, say 10 or more pieces of art, then the investment involved could be rather daunting.
Secondly the artist doesn’t usually know where the picture will hang after it finds a new owner. So the choice of frame will be chosen in the artworks interest. Which seems fair enough except that the frame should be the link between the artwork and the setting in the real world.
The background behind the framed piece could be busy bright colourful or flat dull neutral. Or somewhere in between. Ideally the frame will be chosen after the picture and setting are established.
So the aspiring artist usually has to create the artwork without knowing where it will hang. Then find a way to show potential customers. Then display the artwork to them. Without knowing what to choose and spend on the most expensive part of the production process.
This is where it can go horribly wrong!
If the artist chooses good quality expensive bespoke frames to exhibit their work then the collector will have to pay more for the piece. Even if the frame is totally wrong for their setting.
Or the artist gets less out of the sale because the frame costs so much and the price was determined already.
1. Sell your work unframed.
This is possible for a deep canvas if you paint the sides and display the piece on a plain wall. Which of course is where it may be hung anyway. Or for an artwork on paper you could provide and show it in a mount only.
But it is a good idea to have a list of good framers to give to your buyer. The Guild list is ideal.
2. Only create work in a very limited set of sizes.
This is so that any frame can be taken off and reused on another piece. If you have to make a special bespoke sized frame for each picture then the picture is stuck with it.
3. Choose neutral frames that suit as many of your pictures as possible.
Good quality but plain design. I have used plain white frames to display at exhibitions. The sight of a show with all frames matching enables viewers to concentrate on the art.
4. Get a good deal from your framer.
Explain to your framer what you want, and why. You could be the source of quite a lot of recommended business for him or her in the future. So it could be a worth the framer agreeing to a deal.
5. Make your own.
If you decide to make your own you might find that you enjoy it and can make a good supplement to your living as an artist. I know several instances of this. But if you do become a framer you should join the Fine Art Trade Guild to get all the inside knowledge and help that they have in abundance.
I hope that helps.
Here is a link to the Guild Society of Artists, and the Fine Art Trade Guild;