Saturday, April 30, 2011

How much do you spend on exhibition frames on average? (Poll results)

Yet again for two months running, the Making A Mark Poll reveals diverse practices by artists in the UK and USA.  In POLL: Exhibition frames: How much do you spend per frame on average? I asked the identical question and then provided two different polls in the appropriate currency. 

I chose exhibition frames for a reason.  I guessed that the chances are that artists are more consistent about the level of spend on an exhibition frame
The reason I've chosen exhibition frames is because when we are framing for ourselves we can either put up with something very cheap or spend a lot of money.  Neither of which are probably typical of the average cost of an exhibition frame.
Here are the results - as charts - below with a suggested analysis below this.  Rather than ordering the responses in terms of the most popular, they are in order of expenditure so the four categories of spedn in each chart are more or less equivalent to one another.  As you can see the profiles are very different!

17 responses to USA Poll

27 responses to the UK Poll
The number of responses are low for both polls so some caution must obviously be exercised in terms of interpreting results

However here goes!

Analysis of the results

  • nearly 60% of American artists spend more than $80 (£50+) on an exhibition frame
  • There are appear to be two price ranges favoured by American artists
    • a low price range - where nearly 30% spend under $40
    • nearly half the artists spend between $80 and $160 on a frame
  • The gap in the mid range seems very odd
  • The disinclination to spend any more than around $160 seems to be approximately the same as UK artists disinclination to spend more than £100
United Kingdom
  • More than a third of UK artists will spend up to £100 ($160) on an exhibition frame after which there is a distinct disinclination to spend any more.  
  • Nearly a third of artists will spend between £25-£50 on an exhibition frame.
  • Just over a quarter of UK artists will also spend less than £25 on a frame.
  • Expenditure is not even across the price ranges but it is more even than the profile of American spend
What this poll does NOT tell us is whether:
  • [update] whether spending on frames varies significantly with size of the artwork
  • there is any sort of graduated response - such as artists spending more on frames as you become more experienced and begin to exhibit in more prestigious exhibitions 
  • artists reuse frames and whether they get more use out of frames which are cheap or expensive
  • more experienced artists are better at sourcing frames at reasonable cost
  • less experienced artists are painting smaller works requiring smaller frames
  • more experienced artists routinely paint larger works requiring larger frames
  • artists selling on the internet are using frames at all when dispatching sold work
  • painters in oil are using frames at all - or are preferring to exhibit canvases only
Two questions for you
  1. Do you have any theories as to how artists progress with spending on frames over the course of their careers?
  2. What are your tips for making expenditure on frames both efficient and effective?
My own tips are:
  • buy frames which are robust enough to stand up to the rigours of exhibition.  That way they are less likely to get damaged and more likely to be capable of reuse
  • find one style and stick to it - it makes it easier to create a good impression
  • consider painting wood frames yourself.  You can achieve very significant savings.
  • ALWAYS get an estimate before letting a professional framer start work on frames for you.


  1. The poll also did not break down prices based on sizes. That will have a significant effect on price. A little 8x10 inch painting frame is bound to be much cheaper than one for a 24x30 inch painting.

    Personally speaking, I can't justify spending a lot on a frame when my prices are still so low as a relatively unknown "emerging" artist.As my prices rise, so will the amount I'm willing to spend on framing.

    Very interesting poll!

  2. Good point! I totally forgot to include that one although of course I know it can be true

    I do have a theory that it varies less by size than we think it does because in our heads we have an idea about how much a frame should cost.

  3. The factors that affect the cost of my frame purchases for exhibition is durability for shipping and shipping costs. Bigger nicer wooden frames sometimes deconstruct with shipping and nicer heavier frames cost a lot more to ship to shows. This moves me toward metal section frames which are sturdier and lighter than more expensive types.

  4. Another good point William

    Over here in the UK metal frames aren't allowed in art society exhibitions as the frames must be capable of taking fixings to attach them securely to the wall.

    The issue over shipping and weight also suggests the issue of narrow over wide frames is relevant.


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