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  • Writer's pictureJules

To frame or not to frame, that is the question

The edge of a painted canvas on a wall
Leaving a painting unframed can help keep costs down and feel more immersive

Recently on Instagram I asked people what they thought about framed and unframed stretched canvas paintings.

I was curious because one of my galleries loves unframed paintings (they reckon it keeps the paintings lighter, they're less likely to get irreparably chipped, and the customer can always get a frame that suits their house at a later date), and another gallery thinks they sell better framed (it finishes off a painting, makes it feel more like a special purchase, it's more fashionable).

Normally I buy my canvases pre-stretched, without frames and I paint the edges, which I have found works quite well. It also means that I don't have to unscrew the painting from its surround before getting stuck in either.

a close up of two paintings framed in wood
Framing seems to finish off a painting

But, when I bought a roll of canvas, I made use of the fact that the paintings were going to be at the framers to be stretched, and got him to frame them for me too at the same time. I'll admit they do tend to have more of a wow-factor, but there's now a longer turnaround time of about a month to get them stretched and framed.

Most people on Instragram that replied to my post seemed to prefer framed paintings. But that may have just been that people who like frames are more likely to reply to a post about frames!

The jury is still out for me, and I will probably have to frame some and not frame others, until a clearer preference can be seen. What do you think? Does it affect whether you buy a painting if it's already framed?

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Years ago, while vacationing in Puerto Rico, I painted a few pieces there and managed to get some of my work displayed in a few galleries. In one gallery, I framed a couple of pieces, but in another, I left one unframed. Surprisingly, it was the unframed piece that sold first. Eventually, the others sold too, once I took the frames off. My wife and I decided not to bother with framing anymore. We figured it's up to the buyer's preference anyway. So, no more framing for me.

7 days ago
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As the owner of a gallery told me, the customer falls in love with a painting regardless of whether it’s framed or not. That emotion leads them to buy (particularly when it’s more expensive) than whether or not it is framed.

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