Friday Tips: Working With Galleries on Framing and Other Expenses


(Note: This article recently ran in Art Calendar, as did the photo of me advising Allan Chow on framing.  Why is he smiling so?  Scroll to bottom and you’ll see.) 

Framing: Who’s responsibility is it?             

Unfortunately in the art biz, there is no one industry standard on issues such as this, and several others.  Hence, I can only speak from the experience of my gallery, and what has worked for us.  But since many artists look to me for fair advice, I suspect that what I have to say hits as close to a reasonable standard as anything.

In my joint, the artists are responsible for their own framing.  We don’t have a framing department, as I’d rather spend my time consulting on major projects that selecting molding.  However I do enjoy selecting a quality frame with my artists when they desire same.  We don’t do this through frame shops, which really are for the public.  We do this through frame suppliers, such as Glaser Frames in Denver, which cost much less than a frame shop.  The artists often order the frames in bulk delivered to my gallery, and do their own framing here or at home.  How are they compensated for this?  I mark up the works sufficiently to ensure that they’re covered.  Otherwise, I view framing as an overhead expense for artists just as rent, payroll, and marketing are expenses for a gallery.

Do I help artists select their frames?  Only if I feel they need the assistance.  Some artists have a fantastic eye for framing, and need no guidance.  Others are bored to tears with the process, and simply don’t see what will complement their work.  Those artists I gladly help.  But I never dictate how an artist should frame.  Instead, we collaborate.  Almost all artists have some sense of how they want their work to be framed; I try to listen to each.

Expenses: Who bears what?                                       

In my gallery, the artists pay for their work and frames.  Beyond that, it’s mostly our baby.  At openings we pay for the postcards, postage, wine, etc.  However if we run a magazine ad, the artists always split that with us, since it’s an untypical expense. 

Some galleries require that artists split the costs of an opening.  My own opinion?  You’ve already paid for the frames, have likely paid considerable dues, and sacrificed a great deal just to get to where you are.  I don’t think you should also help pay for the freaking opening.

Allan Chow:  He’s smiling first because he always does, but  broader here because of the limmerick I was telling:

There once was a lady from Madras,                              

Who had, oh, such a marvelous ass.                              

Not round and pink,                                                      

As you might think,                                                      

But was gray, with long ears, and ate grass.


5 thoughts on “Friday Tips: Working With Galleries on Framing and Other Expenses

  1. Hi Paul..I have been a big fan since I read your book! Thanks for all your advise.

    My question:
    What is your advise on gallery wrap.. and do most galleries accept this type of “framing,, so to speak”?

  2. Karen: Glad you dug the book. Hope you like the next one as well. If not, let me have it.

    Sure, gallery wraps in what we call a “gallery stretcher” (meaning one that is deeper than average) are great. When the artist wraps the image around the edges, this approach can be very dramatic–and bloody well saves money. I find it works best with abstraction and contemporary landscape/figure, but anything is possible. Several of my artists use this approach, especially Jane Booth, whose work is shown in the Jan edition of Art Calendar.

  3. I just took my beaded fire truck to have framed in a custom plexi-glass shadow box. It is pricey, but worth it sine the piece will part of a big exhibition for 3 months this year.

  4. Congratulations on finally setting up your site. I am sure the website will become a internet legend

  5. I like the way you set up that your info is the homepage, nicely done. Thanks!

Leave a Reply