Professional and semi-professional artists and photographers
must effectively market their images. This market is very
competitive, and keeping costs down while using quality
materials is of prime importance. Thoroughly professional ways
of presenting your product in an effective manner is essential.
In some instances an image can be marketed by itself, but more
often an art mat is used, and at times a frame is added.
Some of the common places to marketing matted images
retail stores, street markets, art and photography exhibitions,
craft shows and find raising projects. You will find a lot of
competition with any of these alternatives, so you must be
prepared to provide the best possible product at the least
price. Assuming you have a photo or artwork that is readily
sellable, there are ways to present that product to the end user
in a highly attractive manner.
Using art mats:
Try putting your artwork behind
different mats. This can be done at most photo stores, or use
the corner samples at a custom cutting counter. It becomes
readily apparent that the perception of the image changes
radically with different combinations of colors. Most will
enhance the image, and some will stand out immediately as
excellent choices. In most cases double mats will work best, but
images without bright colors will often work best with a single
mat. Adding a single or double mat will usually be cost
efficient, as most end-users will appreciate the added value.
Here are some fundamental ideas when considering using art mats.
If a single mat is used, it is
and most desirable to use a neutral color, such as off white,
Cream, light Grays etc. These go very well with most images and
fit into most home settings. If you wish a stronger color, try
to match the mat color with a dominant color in the image. i.e.
Lots of dark green trees in the picture, use a dark green mat.
For black and white photographs, off-white mats with a black
core are very effective.
Using a double mat:
Double mats add considerably
richness of the presentation. The safest method is to use a
neutral outer mat, and a color for the inner mat that matches a
dominant color in the image. The amount of the inner mat that
can be seen is called the "reveal", and varies with the size of
the mat. A reveal of 3/16" is close to being an industry
standard, but use your own judgment. When using a white mat over
another white mat, a reveal of 1/2" or even much more can work
very well. Double mats are usually twice the price of a single.
Adding decorative cuts:
Closed and open "V-grooves",
decorative corners and graphics can be attractive, but often
unnecessary. A closed v-groove is very common, and can be quite
cost effective especially with larger artwork. The extra cost
can be recovered by a higher retail price. Closed v-grooves can
be especially effective on single mats of conservation quality.
Types of Mat Cuts:
1.Open v-groove, 3/16" reveal
4.Message box, 3/16" reveal
5.Double opening, 3/16" reveal<BR>
8.Floating the image
10.#246 Walnut frame
11.Double mat, light blue outer, dark blue inner.
Visit: http://www.matshop.com/cuts.html for a reference image to list
What type of mat to use:
The two common types
mats and conservation quality (rag) mats. It would always be
nice to use conservation quality, but this market is very
competitive, and price is important. Regular matboard is still
of very high quality, and we suggest they be used for any image
that does not have a high value in itself. Example: Photos and
printer copies. Conservation mats should be used for original
artwork, high quality prints, Limited editions prints or any
image that has a high value in itself. Price wise, a
presentation using regular mats will cost less than half that of
using conservation quality. Technical information on mats can be
seen on the pages of the two largest mat companies, Crescent and
Size of mat:
Use standard sizes when possible,
your customer to buy a frame easily. Non-standard size mats mean
an expensive custom frame is necessary, and most end-users
recognize this when purchasing matted images. Standard sizes are
5 x 7, 8 x 10, 11 x 14, 16 x 20 and 20 x 24. The borders around
the image should be a minimum of 1 1/2 inches for small images,
and up to 3 inches or more for large images. A 5 x 7 image in an
8 x 10 mat will give borders of 1 1/2 inches all round.
If you plan to provide a frame with the mat, keeping
sizes is not important.
Obtaining mats at wholesale prices:
stores and many large retailers will carry a few sizes and very
colors, but don't supply volume. They are also expensive. Larger
Art supply stores may have very limited selections of mats in
volumes of 25 or so at some discount. To get a true wholesale
price, scour the Internet for companies that cater to the
smaller vendor. Expect to buy in some volume in order to get the
best price possible. Fifty or more identical mats will get you
into the price range that will keep your product competitive. A
regular 11 x 14 double mat in a local store will cost $4.50 to
$6.00. In volumes less that 200, you should pay $2.50 or less.
Be careful of highly discounted mats that are not by major
manufacturers such as Crescent and Bainbridge. Some of these are
not of equivalent quality, and may warp or discolor quickly or
otherwise harm the image.
Final note on mats:
KEEP IT SIMPLE. Do not try
every image with a different color combination. A color
combination that fits several images quite well will meet your
needs much more efficiently. One opening size is better than
several. Your cost will be reduced, and those images that do not
sell will not saddle you with high or useless inventories of
You will need a backing for the mat
The backing completes the package and protects the image. For
regular mats, we recommend manila board or heavier
non-corrugated cardboard (for mats 11 x 14 and smaller), and
foam core for larger mats. If you use conservation quality mat,
your backing MUST be acid-free. Use acid-free mat or acid-free
To frame or not to frame:
In general, do not
get heavily into framing for the "drop by" market. The
customer can pick a
frame of their choice if the mat is a standard size. Consider
having a few framed pieces so the customer can see a finished
result, and can buy your framed piece if they like. Aluminum
"backloader" frames are inexpensive, and very easy to load, as
are clip frames. A thorough search of the internet will find
some high quality wood frames at reasonable prices, and custom
sizes are often not much more.
Thin plexi glass (1 mm.) is becoming very popular as
replacement for glass. It is much lighter and being very durable
is a big plus. It also provides some solar radiation protection
for outdoor events or florescent lighting.
A covering of some sort is a necessity.
product made for this purpose is a re-sealable polybag. It
protects the mat package from the elements and dirty fingers,
and also gives a very professional appearance. Some ultraviolet
protection is built in to all plastics. These bags can sometimes
be found in Art supply stores but frequently the Internet is the
Shrink-wrapping also works, but requires time and equipment,
is finicky. Shrink-wrapped matted art often has a tendency to
bow in hot weather.
Tape the image to the back of the
mat on one
long side only. This allows the picture to "breath" under
differing atmospheric conditions. Use magic (scotch) tape or
something similar. For conservation matting, an acid free tape
is mandatory. Photo corners are good, but time consuming.
Attaching the back to the mat is not necessary.
Displays: It should not be necessary to have
or other expensive methods of display your product. A white
cardboard box neatly cut can be sufficient if presented well.
Many larger communities will have stores specializing in acrylic
displays, and you may find ready made ones of the right size and
shape. Large stationary stores often carry these or may have
other cardboard displays to fit your needs. Foam core (3/16")
may be purchased at Art supply stores, and a good utility knife,
a glue gun and some imagination can create impressive displays.
How much to charge?
A general rule is to add
up the cost
of your mat, image, bag and backing. Add some for labor. If you
are going into a show, add a proportional cost for this.
Multiply the total by 2 to get a ballpark figure. If you sell
through a retailer, the "norm" is for them to double whatever
they pay you to get the minimum retail price.
Summary: Selling images in this market is competitive.
your presentation is as good or better than your competitors,
then the quality and uniqueness of your image will determine the
outcome. There is a large appetite for well-done photos, artwork
and crafts. Keep it simple, keep your costs to a minimum, don't
expect to get rich, and most importantly, enjoy the experience.
About the author:
MatShop has been supplying mat & framing supplies to photo
retailers for 10 years & through the WEB for six. Its customers
are artists, photographers, crafters & others who require volume
purchases of these products. The purpose of the MatShop.com page
is to supply information on all products & to suggest how mats &
frames can benefit the specific needs of its customers.
In USA visit: www.matshop.com In Canada visit: www.matshop.ca
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