OneBig ArtGeek writes: Do you have any suggestions for buying frames. I’m just starting out and have little money and frames, for me, are an EXPENSIVE extravagance. Are there any frames out there for say, ten dollars or less, or if more expensive that can be reused (used for display purposes only)?
When pricing a piece of artwork can I include the price of the frame when calculating the overall price, or do I have to give the price of the artwork only? (Is it possible to give both prices, with and without the frame, or would that confuse customers?)
Do most artists include the price of the frame when selling their artwork?

I ask this because I’ve already had an opportunity to display my artwork and was told that my work HAD to be Framed in order for it to be displayed. I had not known or even heard of this before and was rather blindsided by this framing request. (Of course I had never had a chance to display my artwork in public before this, I was and still am extremely new to selling my art.)
Because of this I was not able to display my artwork.
Is this a common request for a place like a coffee shop, or any business?

(I eventually managed to get my hands on some Poster Frames from Wal-Mart which was still very expensive for me, and these worked since most of my artwork is on paper, but it was too late for displaying in that business.)

Ah, it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that I was in your exact place. First, yes, it is normal to be expected to frame your work for display in any gallery or business. If a place does not require your work to be framed, I wouldn’t trust them. That frame protects your work in addition to looking complete. There is only one place I’ve seen that would take unframed drawings. They used thumb tacks to stick it on the wall. The work WILL BE DAMAGED doing this. Both from the tacks themselves and from people touching the work…which they absolutely will. If you’re serious about being a professional artist and displaying your work, you have to frame your work.

Great, we’ve established the need for a frame…now what?! Well for me when I started out, one of the reasons I didn’t work in colored pencil that often was I couldn’t afford the frames. Luckily now, you can get them for fairly inexpensive from places like Hobby Lobby when they are half price which is literally every other week. They rotate the half price on  their open frames (what you would use on a canvas) and wall frames (what you will use for your drawings) every week. You will still need to matt your work. A premade 11×14″ mat will be around $5, but you can use a 40% coupon on it. That mat will fit into a standard 16×20″ wall frame (with glass). Those frames are usually $25-$50 depending on which one you get, and if you get it on sale, you can take half off of that price. It’s still likely going to be more than what you wanted to pay, but it’s something you have to do if you want to display your work. If your work is smaller, then the price will be even less.  The framing cost is a HUGE reason I encourage you to stick with standard sizes when you’re getting started. If you have an odd size that needs a custom mat and frame, you’re looking at hundreds of dollars to frame in most cases.

As for selling the work. Yes, you can add the cost of the frame to the price of the artwork. There is nothing wrong with having a different price based on the item being framed or not. If you have a piece framed and someone wants to buy it without, you can reuse that frame on another piece of art. I reuse frames ALL the time!

If it’s something I have to ship, I don’t generally frame the work because it’s too easy for that glass (if it’s a colored pencil or graphite piece) to break in shipping and ruin the artwork. Many do it and have no problem, but I personally choose not to. Most buyers are going to want to choose a frame that goes with their decor anyway so I don’t think it’s worth spending too much on a frame anyway. I generally pick up less expensive frames when I’m displaying my work somewhere. I want the frame to enhance the work, but not cost more than the artwork at the same time. Usually, a very simple black frame will work.

If you’re going to spend the money, I wouldn’t waste it on poster frames. They look super cheap. Just get the real frames on sale at an art store. They may not be the best available frames but they look a million times better than a flimsy poster frame.