Most artists like the idea of making extra profit, but people seem so shocked by the prices that most artists end up discounting it all away!
There’re two questions there, the other dealing with pricing and discounting, which we’ll loop back to.
Believe it or not, one of my most successful promotions that I run is free framing!
With very few and specific exceptions, I don’t sell anything unframed, and I encourage all artists to move in that direction.
- Your art looks better
- Your art is protected
- It can be an excellent profit center.
There’re a few things you need to keep in mind when undertaking framing. It’s expensive (but you knew that), however, there’s a heck of a lot of margin in framing and with a little planning and insider knowledge, you can turn things in your favor.
FIRST: It’s going to be dashed hard to get a gallery or frame shop to do all of your framing for you at a price that allows you to make a decent profit. We’ve always done it ourselves. We did it at home in our garage until 2003 when we opened our gallery.
You can buy an Alto matcutter for around $100 (we did thousands of prints on an Alto!), get your frames pre-joined and do the assembly yourself, or you can rope in a spouse to help. It’s really quite simple and once you get going it’s possible to frame 3 or 4 dozen pieces in a day. You’ll wonder just what galleries are charging you so much for!
A second alternative is to find a home/hobby framer. I’d recommend that you take care of the materials and pay them separately a flat rate for assembly on a per-piece basis.
SECOND: Pick ONE style of frame and mat. No options. That’s hearsay to some, but choices become daunting for clients. If you choose something that’s nice, clients don’t question it at all; they’re actually GRATEFUL that the framing is done for them! The fact that The Artist picked the framing reaffirms to them that it must be The Right Framing, which relieves them of the worry of picking the wrong framing.
Plus it saves them the hassle of getting it done. Trust me, they’d much rather have you do it in advance than run around doing it afterward.
I have my own exclusive frame made for me by Larson-Juhl and they may not like me spilling the beans on this, but they charge me an ‘off the shelf’ price for it! I do a good volume, but it also gives me a tremendous marketing advantage; I MUST be someone if I’ve got my own framing line!
How can you pick one style to cover everything?! Frankly, because I work strictly in pencil, it’s simple for me, and I commiserate with artists working in color. Still, try to do the barest minimum of options. Perhaps you stick to one type of frame, but have 2 or 3 different mat colors that can be used in a couple of combinations.
THIRD: Maximize your materials to minimize your cost. Pay attention to your sizes! Most of my prints are sized so that the mat size is 16”x20”, which means that I get four prints framed for each matboard. But if I made my stiff ¼ inch bigger all around, my mat costs would quadruple!
This is where some artist start getting haughty about the ‘limitations’ standard sizing or limited choices on the framing would have on their creativity. Bah! The limitations are liberating because it removes the guesswork. I don’t need to go through the whole process about what size and ratio to make my next drawing: that’s already been decided.
Also, my clients and collector’s really appreciate that my stuff is all the same size because it displays SO well as a set!
Whatever you do, don’t just frame it with scraps! It’s a false economy. In an effort to save money some artists rummage through the bargain and discontinued bins at shops and take whatever they can get so long as it’s cheap.
It hardly enhances the art, there’s usually damage to the frame (which undermines your professionalism), things are rarely the right size –so you end up spending time and effort MacGyvering something, and if you have a client that wants a piece framed like the last one they bought, you’re pooched.
If you take the proper approach you’ll have a spectacular product at a price that’s even lower than the scrap bin.
With a little bit of planning, framing can be one of your biggest profit centers!
The fact that The Artist picked the framing reaffirms to them that it must be The Right Framing, which relieves them of the worry of picking the wrong framing!
There’s no time like the present to check out The Fast Start Art Marketing Primer!
Check out the Fast Start Art Marketing Primer!
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