I have found that some people prefer to purchase art that is "ready to hang", but the majority like to purchase art that is matted to a standard size so they don't have to pay a lot for custom framing. You don't have to mat and frame every piece, but you should have a few framed pieces for presentation purposes, and so your customers can visualize how your art will look framed. You should have at least some matted as well, and keep a few mats with you and offer to mat them on the spot for an additional fee.
I sell all of my originals and prints matted. I used to keep one matted and one un-matted copy of each print, but I got too many, so now I just have them matted, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference in my sales. Sometimes I think it is better not to give people too many options because it confuses them. Always protect your matted art with a plastic sleeve, or they will get dirty and/or scratched quickly, and will probably not sell. I have even had people ask for a discount because the plastic sleeve was dirty!
I use white mats and simple frames, because they are safe. We would like to believe that people buy art because they fall in love with it, but the reality is most people are buying a “picture to go with their couch”. Colored mats and fancy frames lock the piece into a specific color scheme and/or style. They can also focus the customer on the packaging rather than the artwork. I bought a lot of gold frames thinking they were what people wanted. It took years to get rid of them all, and some I had to sell on eBay or paint them another color before they would sell. I will never buy another gold frame again.
When people are buying artworks or prints as gifts, especially at Christmas, I have found that they prefer them to be matted but not framed. Mat your work to standard sizes: 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 16x20, 18x24, etc. That way, your customers have the option of buying a ready made frame instead of having to pay the high prices of custom framing. Also, offer your framed pieces unframed. To do this, the backs cannot be sealed, and they have to have bendable framers points so that the artwork can be removed. I only buy frames that have “flex” points.
Be sure your framed pieces are matted with a nice wide border (1 1/2" minimum for 8x10, 2" for 11x14 and 16x20, 3" for 18x24 and larger). Avoid framing prints with a white border instead of a mat, or with no border and no mat. It looks cheap and will probably not sell. Also, it is really bad for the art to touch the glass. If the art is exposed to moisture or heat, it could make it stick to the glass and ruin it, and if you are selling outdoors, the chances of that happening are high. A mat is not only for looks, it keeps the piece from coming into direct contact with the glass.
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