Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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06/24/2004: "A Question about Pricing and Frames"

I've been debating how to handle the issue of the frames I'm using for my show. In the past I haven't framed work so I've never dealt with this issue before. I've seen a lot of artists only list one price for the piece (which implies the cost of the frame is included) while others list the price like $400/$450 or $400 ($450 framed). I'm not sure which of the three options I should choose. I mean, I did continue the paintings around the sides of the strechers so they look fine displayed without frames and if I subtract the cost of the frames from the total price it might make the paintings more affordable. On the other hand, it might just make things easier to only have one fee.

Another thing is that I know upscale galleries don't put prices on the title cards and instead put them on a seperate price list...but I'm not at an upscale gallery and I think I'll just list the price on the card. I tried the separate list before and had people ask me later why I wasn't selling my work this time.

Anyway, I need to get the title cards made up pretty soon and at the moment I'm not leaning one way or the other on the whole frame cost issue. All I know is that getting all these paintings frames added a significant fee to my overhead.

Replies: 10 Comments

on Thursday, June 24th, Howard said

I'd say go with one price that includes the frame. If the people buying don't want the frame then offer them a discount. That way they feel like they're getting a deal.
I know what you mean about the cost. The frames I'm using for my larger work are costing me $60CND each.
It's always good to have a bunch of frames on hand. You never know when you might have to hang something in a hurry.

on Thursday, June 24th,">Elise said

Yes, that's around what mine cst as well...I always have this sinking feeling that I'm not ever going to break even, let alone *make a profit*.

If I could pay my bills every month without having to sell blood I'd have the luxoury of making art without having to worry about the economics of it. Still, maybe I should take a list of what the various sized frames cost me so if someone asks for a discount without the frame, I can tell them an exact figure without hemming and hawing.

I'm being very optomistic that this will even being an issue!

on Thursday, June 24th, John said

Go with one proce and instruct the gallery that if people want to buy it unframed what the price break will be for each piece.

If you don't mind my asking, why did you decide to frame paintings on gallery wrapped canvas that you painted the edges of?

Wait, it's legal to SELL blood in alaska? Cool, I wish I lived somewhere where I could sell blood.

on Friday, June 25th,">Elise said

I decided to paint the edges because of something that happened with a commission I finished right before I started this show. I did the painting thinking that the finished piece would be framed, I had a nice simple black frame that fit the painting perfectly, but the people buying the painting liked it better without the frame. I don't think price was a factor for them at all, they just thought it looked better without the frame so I retrospectively had to go back and try to match all the colors from the front of the painting to the sides, top, and bottom.

It's only a little extra work and this way if a person doesn't want the frame, the piece could still look very nice without one.

I was also thinking at the time that I could have a framed/not framed price on the title card which it looks like I won't be doing now.

Personally, I think the pieces look better with the frames. I use a lot of heavy black lines in my work and the frame is just like one final strong black line that pulls everything together...but I'm not going to force that on any perspective buyer.

Oh yah, and the "selling blood" comment was more of a...metaphore I guess. Meaning that I'm not making ends meet and I'm having to resort to somewhat desperate measures to do so and therefore cannot afford to be unconcerned with the possibility of not being able to break even with this show.

I'm not sure if selling blood is legal here either...I could use my Uber Librarian skills to look it up but I'm a bit sleepy from putting off practicing for the Quick Draw.

Also, I had a harrowing experience of getting called for an interview from the paper and not being prepared for it at all...I'll write more about that tomorrow. All I can say is that I feel relieved the guy (who was very nice by the way) didn't call the white trucks to haul me off.

on Friday, June 25th, Howard said

I'd think of buying frames as an investment. If you have a few kicking around after the show you won't need to buy as many next time you show work.

on Friday, June 25th,">Elise said

Good point!

on Friday, June 25th, Chele said

I just bought a bunch of frames for some of my bigger pieces and am still not over the sticker shock. I think the one price but offer a discount idea is great. That's what I'll do next time... I was curious, is the lady with cat in the lupines available?

on Friday, June 25th,">Elise said

Hi Chele,
That painting is titled "Lupine Slumber" and yes, it's still available; my opening is July 2nd and it will be on display at the gallery through the month of July. I'll go ahead and email you some additional info about it.

And yes, frames can get quite spendy. The least expensive ones I've been able to find are the Blick Gallery Wood Frames. They are excellent for oil paintings. They accommodate canvases 3/4" deep and display 1 1/2" deep. The lip is slim so it only covers a thin line around the art. I think they are really complimentary and I specifically selected canvases according to the sizes available for these frames, which come ready-made.

on Monday, June 28th, JOhn said

No, I know about painting the dges, I paint all my edges, either black or I paint them as I go so they match the front.

on Monday, June 28th,">Elise said

Yes, that's what I'm doing, painting as I go so that the sides are just a continuation of the painting on the front, although less detailed probably.