Framing an Exhibition - Affordable Options?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by marcmarc, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. marcmarc

    marcmarc Member

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    Hi Everyone,
    I've recently been offered a solo exhibition of a recent body of work. These are to be shown in an area of the State Buildings here in Los Angeles CA. The problem I'm facing is that the cost of this falls on me. Therefore, the biggest factor in deciding to go through with this or not is how to keep costs to a reasonable level. The cost of framing this is easily the most expensive aspect. I'm thinking of 20-30 photographs. I was leaning toward 16x20 size prints, but may end up doing 11x14 instead to keep costs down. Even mediocre frames from places like Michaels (an arts and crafts chain), Target, Ikea and so fourth run about $30 and up. As you can see, this is going to run into some serious money. Can anyone offer an alternative? Perhaps there are places that one can rent frames for a couple of months?
    Thanks for replies.
    Marc
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I don't know about frame rentals - never heard of any but it doesn't mean they're not out there. Have you tried Frame Destination (they're an APUG sponsor)? They can probably set you up for a very reasonable price, and they do offer volume discounts.
     
  3. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    http://www.danielsmith.com/Item--i-G-165-240-BB
    I have bought a lot of these. I especially like the bamboo frames. all of the frames in this line come with glass and a precut mat. I usually don't use the mat and often the glass has a tiny scratch in it somewhere that never causes me a problem.
    The rubber tree black frames have a nice look to them if a bit thin and you can't beat the price. It doesn't take much to buy enough that they give you free shipping.
     
  4. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I had my first one-person show in 1985 -- 33 pieces, 20x24 frames and some 14x24 frames. I looked at it as an investment (about $1000 back then, including the mat board and glass -- and back then that would have easily been 10% of my annual wages). I still have some of the frames, but most eventually went with sold or gifted photos over the years.

    So perhaps you should reconsider matting the 16x20's if that is your usual printing size...otherwise you could be stuck with frames that are too small.
     
  5. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Have you thought about not framing them? It does of course depend on the wall surface you are using, but sometimes methods like hanging them from a line with small clips can give more emphasis to the image rather than the frame. Another method is to eyelet each corner of the print and attach to the wall with small nail/tacks at an angle through the eyelet. Or mounted of card they could be attached to the wall with self adhesive Velcro pads.
     
  6. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    It can depend on what will happen to the pictures afterwards. If you standardise the frame size (with differing mattes inside probably) then you may be able to re-use them for your next show. If they are going to be sold from the exhibition then the framing should be good quality, or crap quality so the buyers pay re-framing costs directly of course?! There are probably very cheap plastic frames available somewhere, if they would be rigid enough for that size matte board.

    All the cheaper framing options have very reflective glass of course. I recently found that a not-quite-right off the peg frame here was 52 Euros, decent custom made with cheap anti-reflective glass was 205 euros and then museum-glass was another 185 on top of that. I'm still wondering about that problem, as the print will be a gift!

    There are alternatives to frames, giving less protection with no glass and no sealing. A triple thickness of foamboard as a backing, or thin foamboard as a barrier mounted on cut plywood, or your usual mattes and backing sandwiched between sheets of polycarbonate, or . . lots of things. As you asked about framing then I expect the alternatives are not going to make the right impact, or not give enough protection from prodding fingers and the like.
     
  7. Pasto

    Pasto Member

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    I had a show two weekends ago and had no budget for framing. I decided on using very small and powerful rare earth magnets, one on each corner, with metal thumbtacks on the wall beneath the print. The prints were 26x30 inches and held quite well. I did need to flaten the prints onto the wall by applying pressure to them with a cotton gloved hand each morning of the 2 day event. The magnets cost me $100 with shipping, and the gallery did find the budget to reinburse me. I ended up paying for the thumtacks, about $2.50 :smile: It actually looked quite good.
     
  8. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    This is a really interesting idea.
     
  9. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    A friend of mine who exhibits annually has given up on framing. He'd previously spend $6k on framing, sell $4k of prints and just put up with the loss.

    For his most recent exhibition, he decided to just nail the FB prints directly to the (wooden) wall with large (4") steel nails. Fitted well with the room decor and his style but it's not a mounting method that will appeal to all :wink:

    $20 for the nails... and still sold about $4k of prints.
     
  10. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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  11. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I buy all of my frames from one of the advertisers of this forum, frame destinations. Its metal frame in 16x20 costs little less than 30 dollars. 20x24 will run about 35 dollars. These are top notch quality stuff, not the cheap frame from discount art stores. I use Nielsen profile 15. I cut my own mat to save money. There are less expensive moldings also. Using profile 11 will save you few dollars but I don't like this one as it has less "projection".

    While it won't be dirt cheap, I think it'll be worth your investigation. I don't think you want to use cheap frames especially if this is going to be an important exhibition.

    I have absolutely NO financial relationship with this company. Just a satisfied customer.
     
  12. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Matting and framing is a pretty standard way to go, and presents the images in a conventional, formal way. This appeals to many viewing folks. It also conveys a respect that you have for your work. Not everyone would agree with all of this, and there is much variation in the thinking of presentation (note polyglot's comment). State buildings? To me it says something about your likely viewing audience (standard, extra standard). I would invest in an inexpensive matte cutter (Logan 301 comes to mind - http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&ke...hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_t51gsdl79_b) sorry about the long link. It runs $85 to $90 and will last as long as you will.
    Then go to Frame Destinations, where they can advise you on cutting cost and where. I would at least run the cost of doing this, at 11x14 and 16x20 just to see what the outlay would be. I agree with metal section framing and plexiglass glazing, although glass would likely be cheaper, but more problematic.
     
  13. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    I buy all my precut matts through FramingSupplies.com. Even my biggest matts, like 32x38, are $10.50 with a Crescent buffered board. Now, get an account with your local frame supply company and have them deliver the acid-free foam core and mounting corners, tape, etc. at wholesale prices.

    Then, choose a narrow moulding to keep costs down. Wide mouldings are out. Narrow frames give you a nice finished edge without overwhelming the image.
     
  14. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I cannot see how framing can be done cheaply. Framing is so often a costly job where skilled professionals are doing it. It has to be top-notch quality to showcase your work, to convey the message that you care not just for capturing the scene, but for presenting it. The quality of the framing must be up to the quality of the finished print with which it is charged for protecting for perpetuity, not just 20 years (how about 200, 300?). All of my printing is done with Crescent rag mat (9 ply), UV retardant glass, Burke black 2cm ebony moulding and coated hanging wire — never changed the recipe since 1989. It must be the way I started in photography so long ago to treat everything with a quality holistic touch and never cut corners and look cheap,. But I've paid the price of having to live on a boiled egg for a fortnight. Things are better now (but still expensive!) but my unwavering belief is that I will never ever sacrifice beautiful prints with "high street kiosk" framing. Especially if having a solo exhibition: if it's your first, that first impression is the one most likely to define you in the future and you, as well as your work, must be able to give the competition (and prospective buyers!) something to think about. :smile:
     
  15. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Consider going with a Plaque Mount.
     
  16. marcmarc

    marcmarc Member

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    Thank you all so much for the wealth of info. So many ways to consider. I agree with George Collier about how a nicely framed print gives a print a dignified look. I visited a Daido Moriyama exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art this past summer. Moriyama included a number of recent color (!) prints. These were not framed, they were mounted and tacked onto the wall. It made me think that these were included in a hasty, less thought out way then his vintage framed prints. Nevertheless, I visited the Peter Fetterman gallery in Santa Monica today to ask him about the wonderful unframed but matted prints he has for sale. He gave me the name of the place that does the cutting for him. I've pretty much settled on 11x14 size as from what I can gather this is the largest available off the shelf...going up to 16x20 would require a custom job.
     
  17. fdi

    fdi Advertiser Advertiser

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    Thanks to all those recommending Frame Destination, as the owner I greatly appreciate it. As long as you take a little time to learn a little about framing you can avoid the cost of a custom frame shop by doing the design, picture mounting and final assembly yourself. The least expensive picture frames are those manufactured in bulk overseas and imported in volume. They will have a narrow size selection and are not likely to be good for long term protection of the print, that is where companies like mine and other online wholesale companies come in. We manufacture in the US so our costs are higher. You can take on additional labor by doing even more work yourself such as cutting the mats, backing and or actually cutting and joining the frame moulding. This option requires the purchase of equipment. The more you pay for the equipment the more labor your save.

    You can consider the picture frames to be an investment and you can change the pictures out. Even if you dry mount your images you have to change the backing. If you are t-hinging or use photo corners you can just change the picture. Do you think you will ever do another showing? Do you plan to sell framed prints? If you do, you can eventually get your money back on the frames.

    Regardless of how you decide to display your images, full frames, gallery wraps, or gatorfoam, be sure to look for volume discounts. Many companies offer those, and on matboard the volume discounts are steep. In fact, if you buy cut mats from a company like mine at qty 25 your price will be close to the cost of buying sheets from a distributor and cutting them yourself. Dont forget to look into the shipping costs.

    Cheers,
    Mark
     
  18. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I bought ten 16x20 frames with plexi from Frame Destination a few years ago for a show. I've been switching stuff in and out of those frames ever since. Our photo club and local art club frequently have little shows in places around the area and I need two or three pieces. I haven't had to buy more frames for awhile. Yes, it's an investment, but worth doing right. I LOVE the way FDI packages and ships their frames, too, btw. Those boxes are still in use for storage of my framed work. I do save by cutting my own mats.
     
  19. marcmarc

    marcmarc Member

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    Yes, I forgot to mention that having frames that I can easily switch prints in is a plus. However, I also forgot to mention the fact that I live in a rather small apartment and having a safe place to store these will be a challenge in itself.
     
  20. fdi

    fdi Advertiser Advertiser

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    Sorry to be salesy, but for those of you that are storing and reusing a batch of frames you might consider our GalleryPouches. Photo journalist Andrew Darlow approached my company about solving the problem of frames and canvas gallery wraps being damaged between gallery exhibits and we created the GalleryPouch. Another investment, however we have Art Show customers that are using these for years on a regular basis to carry their framed prints between different Art Shows.

    Cheers,
    Mark
     
  21. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    For less prestigious exhibits than the State Building, I usually print 10x14 and mat and frame to 16x20. Precut window mats in quantity from Frame Destination are no more expensive than the mat board. Frames from FrameFit are close enough to Nielson for the local market. Having all photos the same size makes a neat exhibit. Transportation is easier, too. Buying in quantity saves money. Purists will say that bottom weighting the mats precludes using one mat for both vertical and horizontal formats. I cut bottom weighted mats for years, but now find that local customers don't demand it.