Framing Standards

"Bad artwork needs a good frame, good artwork deserves one"

To this day I don’t know if the guy who told me this was serious or joking.

The fact is that whether artwork is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is a matter of opinion and should not, in any way, affect the standard of framing. There are certain styles of artwork I personally wouldn’t give wall space, but it is the framer's responsibility to be as professional as possible when dealing with the artwork and customer.

How artwork is handled, before and during the framing process, is not just a matter of initial care, it does affect the longevity of the piece.

There are, of course, different levels of framing recognised within the industry to suit the many levels and types of artwork available.

For example:

Minimum - Putting economy first

Budget Framing- Visually pleasing, but offering no long-term protection

Commended Framing - Guarantees a degree of protection, with design playing an important part

Conservation Framing - Helping preserve your artwork for future generations

This is not to say that every customer should have all of their original works framed to museum standard; determining which level is suitable should be a key part of the consultation between customer and framer.

It is important to develop a working relationship with a framer and the basis of this relationship is trust. Do you trust this person with the care of your work? Are you happy that they understand the process and materials needed to frame the piece to its required standard? Are they aware of the different standards? Can they advise on the best style of framing?

Any framer willing to undertake the framing of original artwork must at least be able to answer a customer’s questions satisfactorily.

My recommendation to anyone working with a framer is to discuss and check their standards against those of the Fine art Trade Guild.

With original artworks there can also be a financial implication, not least the cost of framing should one of the higher standards be considered necessary. Even more important is the financial effect on the piece as a direct result of framing. Auction houses have, for many years, lectured on the dangers of improper framing and have numerous tales of highly collectable pieces having been de-valued due to inappropriate framing.

All this said, don’t lose sight of the most important point; the frame and/or mount are there to augment and enhance the artwork not overpower it. If we do our job properly the frame should be viewed as part of the work.

Remember, it’s all about the art. People have put art on walls for thousands of years, but no one hangs an empty frame!

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