How to frame a print for your first ever sale

How to frame a print for your first ever sale

8th April 2019 0 By Biggsy
Reading Time: 5 minutes

You’ve had some people compliment you on one of your pictures so you decide to have a go at selling a framed photo. There’s surely a right way of doing things so just Google “How to frame a print” and you’re well on your way?

If only it was that simple! The one thing I discovered very quickly was that there’s many ways to skin a cat! For every blog suggesting I do things one way, another blog suggested I do it the other. So having decided to sell a lavender photograph from my first ever photo exhibition I had lots of questions to answer!

Some artwork terminology

If you buy a typical High Street “off the shelf” frame you’re likely to have all of the parts below except for the ‘Mount Board’ and ‘Dust Cover’.

NB. In the UK we call the ‘Mat Board’ the ‘mount’.

Parts and terminology of a picture frame
Parts and terminology of a picture frame. Source: Bay Frames

How to frame a print? Some initial questions

These are all the questions I asked myself being a “newbie” beginner. You may be asking the same ones? Here’s my attempt to answer them as succinctly as possible. Note! I am not a professional framer and I wasn’t intending to scale and sell thousands of them. This is just what I collated after MUCH Googling!:

  1. What size should I print?
    Whatever size you like. I decided on a standard A4 size as it felt big enough for a first attempt. Also it was then relatively easy for me to buy an “off the shelf” sized frame!

  2. Do I frame it?, mat it? or simply sell it in a plastic sleeve with a cardboard backing?
    Once again no wrong answers. However I wanted to sit my A4 photo in a white mat so I went for that option. This then required an A3 sized frame.
  3. Should I add a “mounting” board?
    Having a mounting board behind my matted print added some thickness to my artwork. It also meant the back of my photo wouldn’t be touching the brown backing board which could potentially damage the print.

  4. Should I make sure everything is archival and acid-free?
    Yes. For longevity plus it feels the “right thing to do”. I bought acid-free hanging tape to attach both my print to the mat and also to add the mat to the acid-free mounting board.

  5. Should I sign it?, name it?, “limited edition” it?
    I decided to do all three to create a personal touch and increase interest in my art via a scarcity factor. Some artists always do this as they’re proud of their work. Others feel sheepish if they’re not yet a big name. It’s your art so you portray it as you like, whether that be with a title, edition number and your name or a combination of the three. The edition number goes on the left, the title in the middle and your name/signature on the right (see the featured image at the top).

  6. How many in the “limited edition”?
    1/100 seemed too many. 1/5 felt too low. I went for 1/50 but started the numbering at 11. I could then create numbers 1 to 10 if I ever sold the other 40 first, and possibly for slightly more money.

  7. And if I do label it should it be on the front of the actual photo? On the white border around the photo? On the back of the photo? On the mat)?
    Now this lead to lots of Googling and MANY polarised views! Some people like to sign on the actual print in black pen. Others in metallic silver or gold. Some leave a white border around the whole photo and then sign in the white space below the photo (making sure they use the correct sized optional mat so as not to cover up the wording). Others print their image with a white space below the photo for signing. Others dislike this as it gives a 3-sided closed look to the image.

    Some just sign the back instead so the signature, photo name and any limited edition number go with the print. Some sign the front AND the back. I decided to sign the back of the photo in black pen and the mat with a pencil. Then even if they bin the mat my details are still available on the back of the photo. Read this good article about where/how to sign.

  8. Which pen should I use?
    I couldn’t even get a straight answer here! … although the Sakura Pigma Micron .45mm pen kept getting mentioned so I used that one. If the paper isn’t shiny you can be more traditional and sign with a sharpish pencil. Pencil also can’t be forged if someone scans your photo.

  9. Should I add hanging wire/cord or just stick with the standard fitting of the frame?
    After finally sealing the back with brown tape to keep the dust out I added D-rings 1/3 of the way down from the top and then affixed some wire to make it look more professional (rather than leaving just the single saw-tooth attachment that the frame came with in the top-centre of the backing board).

  10. Should I use wire or cord?
    Wire felt more traditional but a local framer suggested white cord as it’s slightly less fiddly, a bit more modern but ultimately what they “liked using”.

  11. Any finishing touches?
    I used framers’ masking tape to seal the back of the frame and added little rubber/foam bumpers to the bottom two corners of the frame to prevent dust gathering on the wall behind the frame.

All the items mentioned above on Amazon

The thoughts of local photographer friends?

1. Sign the front mount
2. People will want to see the 1/100
3. Do it in pencil
4. Bottom right hand corner
5. With your initials only

Bellanova Photography

1. You can print any size you want
2. Frame as you wish.
3. Limited edition prints is a good idea.
4. Price is tricky but generally art that is around £40 to £70 sells most
5. When pricing you need to add you time, expertise and equipment costs not just print and frame.

Kasia Burke

Any useful YouTube videos?

What I did find was lots of useful YouTube videos which I’ve cut down to the 4 below:

1. Adding the photo to the mount

2. Attaching the mat to the [mount board]

3. Sealing the back

4. Adding the D-rings and wire

5. Tying the cord if you use cord

Did anything actually sell?

So after going through the process of selling a framed photo did I have any success? Well, here’s my A4 print of the Hitchin Lavender fields in the front window of the Hitchin tourist information shop …

My A4 framed print for sale at the Hitchin Initiative shop
My A4 framed print for sale at the Hitchin Initiative shop

… and here it is 2 weeks later! Somebody bought it! 🙂

My A4 framed print actually sold!
My A4 framed print actually sold!

Do you feel you’re a bit more informed now on how to frame a print? Are you now tempted to try selling one? The next question is where of course? I started out with coffee shops and the local tourist information shop. It was a lot of fun learning how to frame a print plus the eventual pride of seeing it hanging up on the wall. The bonus was when I actually managed to sell one!