The Artists’ Framing Dilemma


Since the framing of art is costly and almost always the artist’s responsibility — and since it’s hard to sell art — buying frames for your art can become a real psychological and practical burden. What can you do to ease this burden? One answer is to stop framing!

Jason Horejs writes in his excellent article on framing: “All I have to do is say the word ‘frame,’ and I see artists get a dejected, depressed look in their eyes. Framing has long been the bane of painters, photographers, pastelists, pencil artists and all others who work in two-dimensions. Framing art is time-consuming and expensive, and just when you think you’ve found the right frame, your clients let you know otherwise. Framing costs impact your bottom line and change the way you price your work. Finding a good framer in your area can prove an exhausting challenge.

“With all of those hurdles, is it any wonder that many artists are moving away from framing? Many artists who paint in a contemporary style are creating their work on box-stretched, gallery-wrapped canvases that don’t need to be framed. I’m also beginning to see artists who are painting in more traditional styles take this approach. In my gallery, I have very few artists who are using a traditional frame.”

To read Horejs’ whole article, which I highly recommend, please visit his blog.

As with so many other challenges that artists face, the basic approach to framing has to be an acceptance of the reality of the problem, a willingness to make strong choices (for example, to frame or not to frame), a maturity about less-than-perfect outcomes, and a powerful desire to prove the exception — in this case, to become the artist whose paintings sell well enough and at a high enough price point that the cost of framing isn’t an issue.

With recurrent painful challenges like the need for frames, remember this four-step practice:

1) Look at the challenge directly.

2) Make a strong choice.

3) Do not hanker for perfection.

4) Strive to eliminate the challenge by proving the exception.

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