Become a fine artist, mail order ad.


PFG, Picture Framing God
Founding Member
Aug 12, 2000
San Diego, CA
Lately on TV there has been a correspondence art school advertising how they can teach you to be a fine artist.

The part that caught my attention was the "framed" examples of their students work hanging behind the pitch man. I have never in my life seen such horrible examples of framing.

My point is, if they can not even come up with a reasonable excuse for a frame, how can they profess to be able to teach fine art? Anyone else seen these ads?

It is a sad sad day in the art world.

There are PhD's in "Fine Art" that even BELIEVE that an acceptable frame job is a black narrow frame, white mat, plain glass.

I would love to go back in time and shoot the person who first did that combo in NY and started the "Gallery Look".

I have yet to see an art history book with photos of art, also show and explain the frame.

John, I may have to get a television. I've always wanted to be an artist. Not just any old artist,either, but a FINE artist.

For me, framing is sublimation.

I went to a gallery opening Friday night; most everything was framed as Baer describes: white mat, black OEM frame.

So I cornered the owner and suggested that zowie art deserves zowie framing. I think I saw a light bulb start glowing as she realized that art that looks impressive also deserves a higher price tag.

Even if nothing comes of it, the wine was good and the music was delightful so I had a pleasant evening.

Yeah, but my artist and photog customers all tell me the plain approach is the way "THEY are ALL doing it." I've gotten one artist into antique gold and copper colored metals, but never anything fancier (except one of her customers who brought a recently purchased piece for reframing in silky wide gold leafed wood!).

Even RICH artists go for that minimalist look. Poor artists are lucky to afford OEMs. And my HUGEST complaint is the world famous local artists who CUT THEIR OWN MATS to save money on their $20,000 paintings!!! Grrrrr.....

I saw a first prize at an art show once that had dirty glass, silver metal pre-Neilsen frame (coming apart at the corners to boot!) and a mat that was surely cut with a butter knife. It was a gorgeous pastel - very vibrant - and I would just LOVED to have framed it properly.

Artists are the WORST customers!!!!!
I vaguely remember being preached in college that everything I framed to show should be in white, black, or grey mats with a suitable frame (regardless of it's material). I know we were always told to keep the framing simple to let the art speak for itself. My professor also stressed the importance of quality of presentation, which is why I'm always amazed at the horrible quality of mats I've seen at some shows.
I do know from my personal experience it's hard to sell your art, and keeping the framing cost at a minimum helps when selling it.
I also recall seeing those ads in the back of magazines when I was a kid for the mail order art school. When I was in 5th grade, I did the sample test, which consisted of copying the little drawing of a turtle from the ad. I got a response back, something along the lines of don't try to be an artist, cause we can't help ya out. :rolleyes:
Greetings people:

As an artist who is also a picture framer, I have found that the framing of art is as some have said dictated by how much the artist can afford. Which generally means the cheapest available or what can be dug from a trash can.
I don't use frames on what I do so it doesn't matter, I backframe them.
But as a picture framer I've been able to get most people who walk into the shop to reframe what they've brought in, generally I explain to them how poorly it's been done and show them how much better it can look. You have to walk that fine line between the art and the framing so you don't overwhelm the piece but compliment it.
As for selling directly to an artist and getting them to pay for nice framing? I wouldn't bother. They aren't the end customer and don't have the money. I've told artist friends not to bother framing things, better and easier to sell a painting that is only stretched than to try and sell it with a crappy frame on it.
As for the art school ad on the TV?.... well they've been around forever in the magazines and things, "draw the pirate, draw binky" I doubt that anyone with any real talent would bother.

Just my two cents
Gene in cincinnati
you can see my art at:
my email is:
if any of you have a gallery that would be interested let me know.

take it easy people
ghs1x1 i think your work is quite nice. nice website too. i could see some of the darker portions without it being to black, good job.

welcome to the grumble.
I've found that my being an artist helps sales a great deal. Many artists don't have a clue how to frame their work properly, and seem quite happy when I can sympathise. Heck, many artists have no idea how to properly prepare their surface before painting on it, never mind framing it - that is even *more* sad.

But ya know, for a lark I once sent away for the "be an artist" drawing kit, advertised in a magazine (I think it was the same as that commercial). They sent AN ABSOLUTELY FREE NO-OBLIGATION VIDEO telling me to copy (draw) an image on the screen and send it back to them - then they would let me know if I had "the right stuff" to be able to produce art. I laughed so hard, that somehow the tape ended back in the package with a big fat note note saying "yeah, RIGHT" inside.


[ 10-05-2004, 10:52 PM: Message edited by: Valerian ]
Funny to see you guys slamming the "gallery style" since that is all I sell!

The idea behind the gallery style is that it should separate the photo (notice I said photo and not art work since it does not work well with paintings) from the wall and highlight it without detracting from it. This style is mostly used for fine-art photography, and not applicable to things such as portrait photography. Fine-art photography gallery exhibits often have a theme to them. This theme may be at levels such as cultural, emotional, or philosophical. Such themes are above color and wood texture. Having a simple consistent frame through the work reduces the possibility of the frames interrupting the theme.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with the aesthetic qualities of this style, it does have several practical qualities, which will keep it around forever. Most of my customers are reselling their work. They do not sell a lot of framed prints, but they need framed prints for exhibits and art shows. The tastes of their customers are going to vary considerably. The simple black frame with white mat showcases the print which the customer can buy unframed and then have a custom frame shop frame it so that it matches their living room decor. These photographers selling their work will have hundreds of photographs. Different art shows will have different types of customers and so they will exhibit different work. They may need to swap pictures in frames and so having custom frames for each picture is just not practical. Furthermore, although they mostly sell unframed work, they do sell some framed and so they need to have a stock of frames. How many different types of frames do you think you want to carry if you are moving your business from one city to another every couple weeks?

Another practical aspect is cost. Now before you just say they are cheap let me try to share their perspective. Many of you have probably been to a gallery exhibit. Average price for a photograph at such an exhibit is in the range of $350-$500. The exhibit runs for about 6 weeks. The photographer might sell 3 or 4 pieces. The gallery gets 40-60% of the take. Lets say there are 12 photos in the exhibit and the photographer took them to a custom framer and paid an average of $120 per photo to get it framed. How much money did the photographer make in 6 weeks?

If you think my prices are low, my customers would tell you that you are wrong. The best I have been told by some of my customers is that my prices are "reasonable". I could point you to a thread where they are saying I am too expensive and over priced. I am also struggling with some of my customers to get them to use a mat at all and not just put the photo against the glass.

Haven't seen that one. Just the matchbook cover type. Hey, if it worked for Charles Shultz...

As for the "artist" frame, most are just trying to protect and exibit the art and like to keep it minimal for a variety of reasons, especially the ones carting things around to art fairs. Plenty of that stuff ends up reframed to suit the buyer anyway. That means two potential sales for one piece of art! Try to get the artist to include your card.

Some artists though will look at the frame as an extention of the work. Those are my favorites. If you'ld like you can see some recent examples of frames created with the artist check out Look for the work of artist Steve Olson.
Its very different over here.Artists who are reasonably serious about their work and who want to be in the better quality galleries understand that the frame is an integral part of the artwork.Most of them are willing to spend decent money for a good quality frame.The bulk of them want hand finished frames as well.

There are times when the artist requires a minimal look to the frame but that is done on an aesthetic basis rather than a cost one.

That said,we still get cheapo types as well who just want to slap any old rubbish round their work.Thankfully they seem to be in the minority.