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I'm a gallery represented artist and I'm about to approach a second venue about hanging there. One of the biggest surprises I found in the past 4 years was the cost of inventory, especially framing supplies. Prints are cheap, frames, mattes, glass is not.

Now this second venue is likely to produce few sales, basically I'm trying out a new style and want to see what interest I have in it, but to print, frame, etc… 10 pieces will cost close to $750, more if I go bigger which I want to do.

What options do I have for inexpensive display? I'm not looking for particular stores, since that is time limited information, but more about techniques.

Note: I'm leaning towards only 1 aspect ratio, 2:1 "wide" and I'd like the prints to be a minimum of 12"x24" inches but 15"x30" would be great. Sadly, this leaves out standard frames... I would be doing a run of 10-15 prints.

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This really depends on your sizes and how you want to display your pieces. If framing isn't an option, 3M spray adhesive and foam core is often a cheaper option, but it still isn't particularly cheap, particularly after mounting hooks and such are added in there. You can use an oversized foamcore board to also have it act as the photo matte as well.

If you will be doing a lot, getting dry-mount equipment can also be worth it in the long run, but the presses themselves are a bit expensive to get started. Again though, the prices and savings largely depend on the size you are working in.

Another option is to use cheap standard size frames and then use your own mattes to mount it appropriately. When you start doing multiple layers though, the dry mount capability becomes more and more important since it's easy to screw up using the spray adhesive and have to redo a mount.

Update: At those sizes, foamcore is still an option, but it would still be probably $20 - $25 per print just for the foamcore. Dry mounting would also just about be a requirement at the 15"x30" size unless you are really good with doing spray adhesive mounts. You might be able to buy bulk foamcore at that point and save a bit though. If you have a local shop that does dry-mounting, that would also save you the start up cost of buying a press.

  • ahhh, good points, I'll edit my question – Paul Cezanne Dec 23 '13 at 16:44
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Have you considered doing yourself your frames from wood profiles and using cardboard as a background? Should be pretty cheap, if you do not mind wasting the photo print. If your pictures are very big, you can use simple wires in the back, supporting the cardboard and picture. You can use glue on the wood, you can use copper 90 degree fixing elements, etc.

Also an option is to use very cheap readily available PVC pipes to create a frame to hold the picture from behind, so your front framing is just for decoration only.

Also, do not forget, your framing can really add some kick to your photos, so it might be worth buying good frames...

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