Technique: Framing and Matting Photographs

One artist discusses how he presents his digital photography.

Eric Olson presents his digital photography in frames from Graphik Dimensions and mats from “My work, including how it is presented (framed) is my brand,” he says, “so it’s essential to make sure the overall presentation is appropriate. For smaller shows and presentations to customers I put my work into ready-made frame sets, which include not just the frame but matching double-weight mat, hardware, and acid-free backer boards. This gives me a classic, gallery-framed look. I also like the convenience of ordering a set wherein everything needed is included, as this makes assembly fast and easy. These sets, while basic, have met my needs so far. As soon as my own shop is set up, however, I will be making my own frames and mats.”

Olson does not separate out the cost of the framing when calculating a gallery commission. “My experience, so far, only includes getting a net amount for the complete package—frame and art—which is the sale price, less gallery commission,” he explains. “I use standard-sized frames mainly to simplify my own life. Since I compose mostly in camera, I rarely want to crop an image. I asked my frame supplier, Graphik Dimensions, to carry a standard frame set in this size, and they surprisingly and pleasingly did so. Now I order one frame set and am able to frame my work in a gallery format easily and quickly. This suits my work style and gives me a standard size and format which makes it much easier to plan, inventory, order, and assemble finished framed art.

“I don’t feel that the frame should cost more than my own work,” he continues. “Ideally, I sell the print for $200 and the frame for $100, with a $50 profit on the frame. This keeps me in the ‘plain and simple’ category for now. When my prints are selling for five times more, I’ll migrate to higher-quality framing materials but will probably always stay with simple, Bauhaus-like framing styles no matter how expensive the frame is to produce.”

Olson insists that artists should take the framing of their work seriously. “Be aware of the frame and mat as you compose, whether its a drawing, painting, or other 2D art,” he says. “The frame and mat should be part of the whole, not an afterthought. That said, it makes sense for all but the most established artists to stick with standard formats and sizes. This saves money for the artist who frames his or her own work, as well as for customers who want to do their own framing, as it makes it easier for them to buy the work of emerging artists.”

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