Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The art business waltz, lesson 6

I am going to talk a little more about framing tonight.

Several of you have asked me to recommend a maker of inexpensive frames. There are many. Almost all of them have problems with either worksmanship or aesthetics.The art magazines carry advertising from the various framers and I am afraid to recommend any particular one. I have had lots of problems with cheap frames. If I recommend one, when you have problems you will blame me. So if you like the brand of frames you are using, write into the comments about it, so we can all see what has worked for you. I am going to recommend a framer though. But this is a fine art framer. These are handmade closed corner gold or metal leaf frames . These are priced competitively in their part of the market, but they are likely a lot more expensive than what you are using now if you are buying mass produced frames.

The framer I am recommending is P.S. Art frames. They are in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and their website is www.psartframes.com. You will have to paste that into your browser as I can't seem to make it clickable.I have had no problems with their frames. I haven't had the corners on one open up yet and that is what happens to closed corner frames when there is a problem.
The frames I am showing from P.S. Art are all 23 carat and are very nice indeed. Up top is whats called a scoop frame, and here is a Whistler style frame. The Whistler frames have channels running along the moulding. These are variations on framed designed in the 19th century by James McNeil Whistler.

There are many variations on this design. Its simplicity and timelessness make it very useful for a lot of different kinds of paintings. Here are some arts and crafts style frames.

Below is a different sort of frame that is from an earlier period. Its is often called a Hudson River school frame. Notice the striated or combed cove.

These frames are of the finest quality. I show them not because you are labile to buy frames of this level as you hunt for your first gallery. I show them so that you know what top quality frames done right look like. As you hunt less expensive frames you can judge them by how closely they approximate these. If you are an established professional and looking for a supplier of gold frames I think these guys make a good product for a fair price.

Notice that all of the frames I am recommending are relatively simple. The ornate Louis the 14th frames are beautiful and in a few places in the country they are popular, but in most places they are a hard sell. Contemporary buyers see them as being out of step with their interiors. I like em, but I gave up on trying to get anybody to buy my art in one. Simple is good. Stick to that.
Black frames, silver leaf frames and other variations are nice, but I would start out with yellow gold frames. The largest number of buyers will want those. Often people have no imagination at all. If they see a picture in a frame they don't want, they are off, they usually can't imagine the picture and the frame as separate.

I will return to the subject of frames and how they are made in future posts. There is a lot to that. But for now I think that will do, unless someone has a question out there.

You are going to need at least half a dozen, and better yet about ten framed paintings to offer a gallery . You really can't hope to sell any, if all the gallery has is one painting, their clients will want to have a selection of your paintings from which to choose their favorite. You remember me talking in a former post about only working in about six different sizes. Now is one of the times that pays off.

You may show a gallery more pictures than you have frames and let them decide which ones you will leave with them in a frame. Frames need to have screw eyes and a wire on the back. The gallery is probably not going to want to do that for you. Do not write the name of the painting or its price on the back of the frame. If you do that you ruin the portability of your frames. You will need to trade paintings into your limited frames until they sell. As your paintings improve or as things remain unsold you will return to the gallery with paintings the same size and trade them into your frames.

I believe tomorrow we will talk about actually approaching galleries for representation.


willek said...

Boy, those frames are really nice. It sure must take a lot of brass to slather them with pallet scrapings. WillEK

Unknown said...

Those are beautiful frames. I am finally beginning to see the quality differences that you have mentioned.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Oh no! I wouldn't dream of doctoring these. I work over the metal leafed cheapos that are too brassy.

Stapleton Kearns said...

If you saw the two qualities side by side you would be even more impressed with the real fine art frames.But there are better cheap frames now than there used to be a few years ago.

willek said...

I usually paint small but I had a commission for a larger (3'x4') marine painting. I did the thing and it was a sunset beach scene. I framed in in a wide dark brown frame and the customer took it home and did not like it. Said it did not go in her room. I think it was the frame. I'll bet if I had placed it in one of those nice frames it would have been a sale. I did not hold them to the deal because I gave them something a little different than what they asked for. But, I really do not enjoy doing commissions. I think it is because I consider myself as still learning and I have a lot of paintings, places and subjects I want to try. The commissions keep you from doing that. WillEK

Stapleton Kearns said...


I have a protocol I use on commissions. In fact the subject of commissions needs a post....
There is so much left still to be written,