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08/07/2017 11:20:33 PM · #1
I am wondering how many of you matt your own images for framing.
It has really gotten expensive for me as I have been doing much more printing and I have awesome news. A local gallery in town wants to start having my images in her shop to sell but they have to be larger sizes as well as being matted.

A few images have also been chosen for print in a local travel guide as well.

This is going to be very, very pricy for me as she wants at least 10 images each being numbered as well and at least 16x20 and different sizes but no less than a 11x14. This is territory I know nothing of or about. There really is not even enough websites giving out this kind of information or I am just not looking in the right spots, but it will give me much more local exposure. I am not sure this is what I want as I do this as a hobby and not a business.

Insights at all?

Message edited by author 2017-08-07 23:21:36.
08/07/2017 11:36:06 PM · #2
go and buy a matte cutter, you get them from any art supply shop, they should be able to advise you of the best make and model.

I have always cut my own, you save a heap of money buy your mount board from them as well;;

Message edited by author 2017-08-07 23:36:51.
08/08/2017 12:41:48 AM · #3
Good to know thanks!
08/08/2017 10:07:39 AM · #4
i may be a spaz but i found that a lot of practice, skill and a really decent, sharp mat cutter are needed.
i had a terrible time with the $20 cutter i bought. you have to be careful not to slice yourself in any case.

so now i stick to matboardplus.com - you can specify the outer dimensions and the window size and there are discounts with bulk purchases.
08/08/2017 10:34:18 AM · #5

The gallery expects certain matt sizes and it also has to be a certain thickness.
I will have to do more research into this.

Message edited by author 2017-08-08 10:35:27.
08/08/2017 10:46:01 AM · #6
Originally posted by jgirl57:

I am wondering how many of you matt your own images for framing.
It has really gotten expensive for me as I have been doing much more printing and I have awesome news. A local gallery in town wants to start having my images in her shop to sell but they have to be larger sizes as well as being matted.

Think of a few things carefully first.... How long will your pieces be on display? What are her expectations on time frame and rotation of work and bringing in new work? How much is expense she expecting you to incur for her gallery?

Originally posted by jgirl57:

A few images have also been chosen for print in a local travel guide as well.

That's a much better possibility for further offerings as your exposure will be better and long term. If you don't already have a website, create one, and have them post it in the article if you can.

Originally posted by jgirl57:

This is going to be very, very pricey for me as she wants at least 10 images each being numbered as well and at least 16x20 and different sizes but no less than a 11x14. This is territory I know nothing of or about. There really is not even enough websites giving out this kind of information or I am just not looking in the right spots, but it will give me much more local exposure. I am not sure this is what I want as I do this as a hobby and not a business.

Insights at all?

A suggestion and a viewpoint from someone who's been there.....

Never EVER allow a gallery to dictate your expenses. I learned one thing early on.....after the gallery is done with you and is dealing with the next potential rising star, every nickel that you have spent is now inventory. If you do not have a storefront or an online gallery, that is a bad thing. So my suggestion is to not enlarge, mat, and frame anything that you would not hang on your own walls. I had a potential client just recently that wanted an image of mine printed, and I had it done as a three foot by four foot canvas. I printed and stretched it and he never even came by to look at it once it was done. It was a good image, and looked fabulous, so it was no big deal to hang it in our gallery. I did NOT do the same with the other image that he told me he was interested in because it was an image that he saw on line that although a good image, it was not one that I would have wanted to get stuck with in the event that he never came though with a purchase.....which he didn't. Bullet dodged.

I found over the years that gallery owners get a little bit full of themselves and think that they can pick and choose what you have to offer, and in doing so cost you a lot of money with zero guarantee of return. They kind of forget that when it all started that what they had was blank wall space and absolutely *nothing* to offer without the artists. So you have to make sure that if you're going to enter into any kind of agreement with any gallery, show, or any other event where the person in charge wants to tell you what they want from you that you base your offerings on the aspect of no guarantee of sales.

Another thing......commissions. Galleries in my area have gone nuts with it, demanding as much as 40%. that takes a hell of a bite, and that's on the end sale, not on a predetermined number that allows you to mark up your work to cover the commission. Sometimes in the course of trying to cover the commission, you end up pricing the work outside of what your local market will bear. If you don't sell then, well.....then you wasted your time if the cause of no sales was you trying to prevent the commission from having you sell your work at cost. If you don't sell, the gallery doesn't really lose much, although if they don't sell anything, they aren't paying bills either......but they have zero cost in your work. And again, when they move on from you, you still have the inventory where your money is tied up. Ask as to what the gallery offers in return for their commission....Advertising? Flyers? Professional contacts notified?

If you do want to attempt this, think hard about a website and/or online store for your work.

I actually gave up after two years of art/craft shows, galleries, and occasional wedding, portrait, and school sports pics for parents and the like as I found I was doing a lot of work, spending a lot of money on presentation and entry fees, and having some attrition rate in simple transportation and setup. It can be truly trying to make money from your passion. It can be terribly demoralizing to reduce all of your work and time reduced to dollars and cents in a purely commercial manner. And the only thing more fickle than the retail buying public is the retail buying ART public. There is no magic formula as to what will sell.

I probably would not be doing anything on a commercial level had not a truly incredible opportunity drop right into my lap. I had been sort of half looking for a house and found a place in the "Art district" in Harrisburg that had a storefront on the first floor and two floors above it where I could live. So.....I have a job to pay the mortgage, and our gallery is nothing but a labor of love and our passion. We are truly fortunate that we don't have to rely on sales to pay the bills. We've been there coming up on four years and though we're certainly not getting rich, we are becoming a known quantity and having a blast. It is the best of both worlds.

Please just take all this as my relating personal experience(s) from my struggles over the last decade of trying to be a semi-pro photographer. If anything I've shared gives you hope, eases your mind, helps direct your efforts, I am delighted. I hope you find what you're looking for and that you have much success.

Good luck, and yes.......congratulations that things are happening for you that you have been seen and sought out. Keep on keepin' on!
08/08/2017 11:22:44 AM · #7
Thank you Jeb for the support, very much appreciated :-) things have been moving pretty fast for me over the last 6 months and I am not sure how to handle things LOL!

This is the exact insight and help I have been needing to hear, straight up, bold how it is. Outweighing if it is worth my time and money to even pursure things further.

Right now, I treat my photography as a hobbiest enthusiast. I do it for myself, therapy and for fun.

My photography has been paying for my new toys and allowing me to even upgrade a couple lenses I have been really wishing for.
I have invested in a few different lighting equipment and even upgraded my gels from Roques to Gary Fong.

One thing that makes me very uneasy, is that I have calculated the cost to do this just to start out, I would have to sink at least 1k into things to get exactly what she wants. That is what prompted my post in the first place because a lot of the images she wanted I would never hang in my home. They are more about landmarks and a few other images that I have taken.

The commission she will be taking would be 35% on the back end without my markup as well.

For my website I do have zenfolio which is pixgeek.net which I have had over the last couple years. The name was just something out of the blue, last minute fun name I had chosen for myself, but right now its only used as a portfolio not for sale things, just to store and put images I love to share. I have been seriously thinking of I am moving from zen page to Smugmug at the moment due to cost and I have found that to be more reasonable fitting into the budget I could afford. I would move a lot of images over but not all of them. I have started that process of moving things over and they offer much more for gifts which my people want anyway. they would rather have coasters than photos on the wall.

The duration for this shop would be a permanate thing. There would be no set time or end date. It was the only reason why I had been seriously really thinking about about doing this was just for that reason alone. Also, the fact I would have to learn to mat my own stuff.

Yes, I have a lot to mull over and think about and It does give me very precise direction which I needed to hear! Thank you.

08/08/2017 11:24:40 AM · #8
Over the past couple of years I've gone through many options. This is my current go to formula for shows if I want to mat work. It changes a bit if I'm printing from a 4:3 ratio file but those are far and few in between. Here we go for 3:2 (Images from most DSLRs). I've learnt that you can save a lot of money and time if you try to stay within standards(film ratio). Say you print on 13"x19" paper (digital standard), print the image at 12"x18" or 11"x17", as long as it's centered. Get these https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YESETRE , or your choice of color and ply, and your choice of 18"x24" frame. Michaels has BOGO or 50% deals on frames. Worth watching them. You can get this project done for less than $400. Maybe $500 including prints.

eta: Make sure you get this in writing that you're providing the framing. I still haven't gotten my frames back because they think they framed the work! I even have the receipts. Also, make sure they send the prints back to you in the same condition you sent them. The 35% isn't too bad. They should be doing some marketing of your work/show with that percentage.

Quick question... are they showing all 10 prints at the same time? If they're showing 5 , you technically only need 5 frames. You print and mat 10, and do some swapping around. I forgot to add, to mount the prints. Get some archival quality matting tape. You're looking to do a hinge mount. It's quite simple.

Message edited by author 2017-08-08 11:37:49.
08/08/2017 11:51:10 AM · #9
Originally posted by jgirl57:

That is what prompted my post in the first place because a lot of the images she wanted I would never hang in my home. They are more about landmarks and a few other images that I have taken.

I would balk at the ones that you wouldn't hang in your own home.....and tell her that's your personal policy. Because with no outlet, they would effectively be dead inventory.
Originally posted by jgirl57:

The duration for this shop would be a permanent thing. There would be no set time or end date.

I would be reluctant to believe that any gallery owner wouldn't at some point decide that she/he wouldn't want some kind of rotation, or fresh work added. Heck, I even make the photog at my gallery cycle in new stuff.....and that would be me! I would assume that your stuff that didn't seem like it was moving would prompt you to do the same. If this gallery owner is pretty much willing to provide you with space, maybe toss in the idea of fewer works to start and then adding or cycling work out down the road. Then your cash hit now could be reduced somewhat at this point. Then start out with the pieces you would hang in your home.
Originally posted by jgirl57:

they would rather have coasters than photos on the wall.

That is a never-ending source of amusement and frustration. People want original artwork.....but on the cheap. But then someone walks in and drops $1200 on a Tuesday when you least expect it.
08/08/2017 12:48:53 PM · #10
This place where I will be doing it also does their own framing. So, its why she wants them just printed and matted only. The framing she has that part.

She would have all 10 images being put up for display. Yes, I would have to cycle my work out according to the seasons. In the winter time it would be mainly my eagle images as well as my macro snowflake ones. That is where I have made my most profit is from my eagle images. I am really going to have to go through and figure out what I want on my walls, that is a huge game changer for me and it makes sense and much more reasonable for me to seek those kind of images.
At least that way I can enjoy them on my walls if they don't sell :0)
I had thought about giving her like a photobook too of the other stuff I have done and people can pre-order things. not sure how that would go as poeple would want to walk out the door with them at that moment.

It is why I was really worried about getting all these done on mats in large sizes because I really, really hate clutter in my home just sitting around especially if I paid a lot of money just for the printing and mats. The sizes I would have to get would just cost me around $15 if not more just at my professional lab cost just for one print.
08/08/2017 04:37:30 PM · #11
The secret with matts is to use a SHARP blade if the blade is dull thats when problems start
08/09/2017 07:15:50 AM · #12
I have recently begun putting my photography out in public, feeling my way as I go. I began with an invitation from a local gallery to hang nine of my photographs for a month (extended to two months because the gallery owner liked them). One of them subsequently was printed on the cover of a local statewide magazine with attribution (and my permission). I then added to my inventory and participated in a weekend art festival (by invitation, but not too tough to obtain that). I also attempted to enter two juried art shows and was successful in the one with the reputation of being the tougher one of the two, where one of my photographs is currently being exhibited (36 x 20, framed and matted) as one of approximately 50 pieces in the show (consisting of many paintings, statues, ceramic and wood-carved bowls, tapestries, and nine photographs).

My photographs are well-received by people who have viewed them and I have sold a couple to date. Nothing to get excited about, although I like the exposure I am receiving. I have some experienced artist acquaintances who are willing to give me the benefit of their thinking; I will take them up on that.

I am being intentionally quixotic about the path I am taking as I am not interested in getting into an expensive situation and prefer to feel my way along while staying in my budget. I am treating my efforts to date as a form of market research and part of the learning process.

I chose to buy a Logan 750 mat cutter (about $350 on Amazon) and cut my own mats because transportation costs to Hawaii make ready-made mats rather expensive. Kiwinick is right, sharp blades are a must and they are much cheaper than mat board. The Logan mat cutter is excellent and I have been able to cut mats quickly with this (albeit expensive) mat cutter.

I am also heading toward making my own frames because I like the idea and the cost for frames locally is pretty steep. I also stretch my canvases.

My situation is somewhat unique, in that I am now retired and don't need to make a living doing what I enjoy. As long as I don't go into a hole getting into a regular monthly expense I am happy to sell a few now and then. In the meantime, my inventory is at home, with my favorites hanging on the walls. I have a website that is live and nearly complete (and should have been completed before now).

...And I am having fun.

For now, the most important thing is to put out the quality I want to present to the public while doing most of the work myself, and definitely staying within my budget. If things work out under those terms I'll continue the journey. If not, I'll make other plans. I have been in business for myself most of my life, so I know what it takes to succeed. I also know when to walk away from a proposal that is not to my liking. "No" is a beautiful word; it needs to be used from time to time. I'm sure I will also learn a few lessons the hard way. I simply want them to be relatively pain-free lessons. That's what the budget is for.
08/09/2017 09:52:43 AM · #13
Originally posted by chalice:

For now, the most important thing is to put out the quality I want to present to the public <snip>

This is the most important point of any venture into the public sector, whether it be sales or exhibition.

NEVER compromise yourself and/or your vision for anyone in a gallery or show.
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