Monday, April 04, 2011

POLL: Exhibition frames: How much do you spend per frame on average?

The Making A Mark Poll for April is all about how much we spend on exhibition frames.  It was prompted by a comment by Tina Mammoser on the results of the March Poll - see Poll Results: Annual Spend on Art Materials

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.
The Best Ever Diagram of Picture Frame Mouldings
courtesy of FW Holroyd Framing Supplies Ltd
 - a leading UK supplier
It's always struck me that getting the framing cost right for your market is the key to making a profit when exhibiting artwork in frames

Another reason for choosing exhibition frames is I've always thought of them as being a bit of a deadweight.  Let me explain.  I have no problem with a gallery adding their commission to the artist's price for the artwork plain and simple but I'm *$£%ed if I'm going to let them add on commission to my framing cost as well!  Just imagine you've just paid £100 for a large frame.  You then realise it's actually going to cost you £150 by the time you've factored in the gallery commission.  I'd rather give that extra £50 to the framer!

Then there's one of my framers who told me when I was starting to choose frames for exhibitions that he does an awful lot of reframing work for people who have bought art but don't like the frame.  That taught me a lot about making frames as neutral as possible to be as least offensive to the maximum number of people.  It also made me think very hard about spending a lot of money on a frame which might not sell the picture at the end of the day!

Then there's the issue about framing being culturally oriented.  Hence the frames which the American market seems to think are absolutely splendid would be regarded as totally OTT in London - which is currently in love with totally neutral frames with very little gilt in plain view.  I'm currently all in favour of the painted and distressed frame - mainly because I'm perfectly capable of doing that for myself after I've bought the basic frame - and boy does that help to cut down on the costs of framing which can be very significant if you are framing a lot of pictures.

I've also learned to have frames which are robust enough to cope with reuse and to have extra backboards cut.  That's for if, like me, you can't be fagged with the time and the tedium involved in getting labels off the back when you want to swop artwork round!

So all in all lots of scope for working hard at getting your framing costs cost-efficient and cost-effective.

But what is that cost?  How much do you spend per exhibition frame on average?

I do appreciate that answers will vary depending on the size of work produced but thought it was worth having a go nonetheless.

This month I have again got two polls - one in £sterling and the other in US$.  You can find are both in the right hand column (just above the grid of images of Bloggers who follow this blog) - and a few of you have found them already.

The poll finishes just after midnight on 30th April and the poll results will be published later that day.

PS  - If you have any framers or framing supplies you'd like to recommend to fellow artists please feel free to leave a comment.



  1. Hey no Euro poll?!

    I am looking forward to the result anyway. A nice informative article Katherine. Since I hardly hold an exhibition anymore my main concern is the (postal)weight of the whole. So that said you can guess that my frames arn't that robust and heavy, more like a neat little edge around my painting so to say.

  2. It's occurred to me more than once that the fact that art is very frequently not framed for internet sale is one of the primary reasons why the price of art sold over the internet looks so reasonable compared to art bought from a gallery. At least the buyer gets to buy the frame once only and gets what they want!

    Rene - I've stuck to the two main audiences for the currency.

    Interestingly visitors to this blog from Canada, India and Australasia give the eurozone a bit of a pasting in terms of visitors! I guess it's a bit more commonwealth oriented than europhile! Could be the language! ;)

  3. wow, I asked a relevent question! haha!

    Love what you say about cultural influence too. Here in the UK exhibition frames are usually very very simple, neutral colours. In fact many society shows and competitions will actually state that is preferred and can give you an advantage. While I get photos of work from my US buyers and am always surprised at the much more complicated framing they do. (Coloured frames, multiple matting) It's an interesting comparison.

    When I worked for a gallery and did framing our top seller, for artists and art buyers, was unfinished tulip wood with off-white window mounts. Lime-waxed frame might be an upgrade. Over time we actually reduced our stock to only natural wood square or round profile and plain white/black frames.

  4. Group shows I have submitted to in the UK often ask for framed work, so I try for something quite unassuming and inoffensive, because I was told purchasers often decide to get their own frame made. Recently had big problem though, as I had worked on a largish cheap ready-made canvas bought from on-line supplier. It was only when I took it to my framer to get it ready for a summer exhibition, she found it was 'skewed', the corners are not at right angle. So I now have to get it re=stretched on new stretchers, no money saved here, then.
    Should not have bought cheap ready-made canvas, should I!

  5. Very interesting Katherine. Especially highlighting the difference between what's considered suitable in the UK and US, which is a problem I seem to be coming up against. Not to mention miniature shows and non-miniature shows (for me anyway). You can end up having to get several different frames for the same piece which is both annoying and expensive!

  6. Great discussion point. I am further interested in more detail; a round up of sizes versus their costs would be really beneficial. As well as an insight to negotiations with framers you may have had, such as framing more than 10 pieces discounts (are there standard practises?).


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