Sunday, August 09, 2015

Guerrilla Framing Technique number one

Me: Custom framing is expensive!

You: Everybody knows that!

The average price for custom framing around the DMV is brutal - and sometimes complicated (or made complicated by frustrated designers posing as framers or artists who have seen too many Rococo framing in museums.

Unless you're Frida Kahlo, generally speaking, the job of a frame for a work of visual art is first and foremost to protect the art.


And in the 21st century, and most of the 20th, the simpler the better; the less noticeable the frame, the more that the art is noticed.

If you have plenty of shekels, then a good framer will do a great job.

For the vast majority of artists, a frame should not cost as much as repairing your transmission.

You: Can you get to the guerrilla technique part already?

Most artwork is done on geometric substrates; even if you cut paper or stretch your own canvas, most of the times it is either a square or a rectangle; ovals went out ages ago; in fact they were never really in.

In the USA, these art substrates come in standard sizes that apply not only to the substrates (paper, canvas, board, wood, etc.), but also to mats, frames, and glass.

Thus, if you work on a standard size substrate to start with, you're almost home, because then you can eliminate the middle man to getting your work on a wall: the custom framer.

An 8x10 substrate will fit into an 11x14 pre-cut mat and into an 11x14 pre-cut frame; and 11x14 substrate will fit into a 16x20, a 16x20 into a 20x24 and so on.

Around the DMV, both Ikea and AC Moore's have ridiculously affordable prices for acceptable, minimalist frames. With AC Moore's if you sign up for sales alerts, you'll be bombarded with coupons (the best one is their 25% off for your purchase - including sales items; otherwise you get their 55% off regular price coupon emailed to you every 30 seconds).  Practically every frame at Ikea is a minimalist frame, but be careful because many of them are European size standards, which are different from US; however, Ikea frames generally come with acid-buffered mats, with is a nice "bennie" to have.

By the way, if you need a lot of frames in the same size - let's say two dozen frames, then I suggest that you find the ready made frame that you like and that will accommodate tour work (this usually works for photographers), turn it over and see whoo makes the frame and then contact the manufacturer (if it's in the USA) and see if they will sell you the frames directly. There's usually a minimum order to "qualify" for this option, and thus situations may vary according to your needs.

If you want to do artwork in other than standard sizes, then more power to you, and framing just got a little pricier, but there's also a technique.

First find a ready made frame that is bigger than your odd shaped artwork and visualize the artwork inside the frame. If the proportions are agreeable to you -- let's say you have a rectangular work which can be matted with both sides and top the same and bottom "heavy" - that is perfectly acceptable.

Once you have the frame, go to a framer and have them cut you a mat that has the outside dimensions of your frame and have them cut a window that fits your work. Now you are only paying them to cut a custom mat, rather than paying them to do that as well as creating a custom frame and glass from scratch. It should reduce your costs by about 80%.

Then just bring your matted work home, pop it into the frame and as the Brits say: "Bob's your uncle."

Plenty more techniques later...

1 comment:

Jesse said...

Thank god Lenny. After hanging over 60+ shows of other artists works, I can’t tell you the relief I felt in the rare moments that I found a well framed or presented work of art!

I’m sure there are a lot of thoughts on the subject of weather a work of art should stand on it’s on, but, to me, the presentation is very important. I realize we all have budgets, but I always recommend that people think in terms of their collectors, or the one’s they want to have.

I can’t speak for other collectors, but I’m not going to buy a work in a crappy frame made out of inferior materials, or poorly manufactured stretcher bars. Because I know I’ll have to fix the artist’s mistakes later.

To artists out there, respect your work! Use quality materials, read about framing, and if you don’t have an answer, ask your local framer. Potentially hire them to cut your mats, and mount your work for you! Order custom frames in bulk. If you set up your frames properly, you can re-use them for multiple shows!

Wouldn’t you hate to hear someone say, "wow, love the work, but that frame sucks…" and then they move on to the next piece. I’ve seen it happen.

If you’re a photographer and don’t want to deal with frames, think about printing on aluminum or other substrates that don’t need frames like face mounting to acrylic. But always, respect your art, and the people buying it!

Lenny, keep the suggestions coming!