Just for Artists


both from VMFA

Photographs of Glen Suttenfield's work at Crossroads Art Center



Everyone hates to talk or think about this, but everyone has to. 


Several factors to consider:


• Prices need to be consistent. If a 24x24 painting is $1000 in one gallery, it has to that in another, regardless of commission charged by gallery. 


• If you have difference styles or topics or use different materials, that will affect the prices. A 24x24 collage might be priced differently from a 24x24 oil painting, or ink drawing.


• Usually, oils and acrylics are priced the same, or close. 


• Remember to factor in the cost of commission, and cost of framing (if you frame your work), or cost of display stand. 


Example (prices used are just for the ease in figuring numbers):  


—24x24" work might be priced at $1000. But wait!

—commission is 50% (this is pretty standard) 

—So, you get a check for $500. But wait!

—If your frame cost $100, your profit is $400. But wait!

—You also want to subtract the cost of your materials, so you might only net $350 


If you want to net (profit)  $1000, you must price the art at $2300, or more

The you have to ask, "Is that figure realistic for my work at this stage in my career?"


If you sell at several galleries that have different commission rates, you still price the same, unless each gallery sells a different kind of work by you. 


Also, I would not use a 'price per square in' formula, but rather RANK by square inches. Use one or two sizes as your benchmarks, and fit everything in between. Sizes that are close in square inches share the same price:

Labelling Art Work Correctly:


Artist's Name (not shown), Title, Medium, Dimensions (always, VERTICAL first!)



Down by the Sea, oil on linen, 12x18":




Down by the Sea, oil on linen, 18x12":




For 3-D objects, do the depth measurement last.


NOTE: the order of the dimensions (vertical first) is different for almost every other industry; but for art, it is the industry standard. 



USE ITALICS FOR TITLES, if possible. If not, use quotation marks. Could also be set apart by font size or type of font.


DIMENSIONS:   Use  "  for inches,  '  for feet, after the LAST number, if needed (not both numbers). For smaller works, it is not usually noted. 


OR, abbreviate 'in.', 'ft.', 'cm.'   Your options:  12x18    12x18"   12x18 in.   30x46 cm.


I've seen museums put a period after all 'in', 'cm', etc., but some do not. This might be a judgement call. Consistency would be more important. I would put your name FIRST, if it is on the label. Museums list the artist first, then the info.


MEASURE ART WORK, OR THE FRAME?  Museums post the art work measurements; other places want the framed size. So ASK!


FOR THE TITLE, capitalize the first word, and all other words, except articles and prepositions.


DO NOT USE FANCY FONTS for labels; ease of reading is more important. Also, NEVER use all capitals. They are not as easy to read. If your name is not on the label, be sure it is on the artwork somewhere, even on the back!


SOURCE OF MY INFORMATION: I googled, observed, and went to several museum sites: the Met, Boston, VMFA, the Louvre, etc.

Just for Artists!

Page 1—on this page find information and links that may be of interest to artists...

one type of D-ring

this shows the flexible framing wire, the spacing from the top, and the eyscrews

Wiring/Hardware of Framing:



Wiring, not sawtooth hangers, is preferred. Most galleries insist on work being wired. Please use gallery wire, not wire from construction spools! It needs to be flexible. 



Measure about a third of the way down from the top for the hardware.



* * *Be sure your wire does not go all the way up to the top of the artwork, but leaves enough room that a wall hanger will not show when the work is hung. (see illustration)


ATTACHING WIRE: Using D-rings is best. An alternative is eyescrews (screwed in ALL THE WAY—you do not want them to pull out, and I have seen this happen, and the art work CRASH to the floor).



You can buy the eye screws and framing wire, in small amounts, at hardware stores (they usually have a framing section).


Also, craft stores will carry a lot of this.


D-rings might have to be ordered, like from Jerry's Artarama. or Dick Blick. You can also get offset clips from them. 


If the screw for the D-ring is very large, you might need to drill a hole, to avoid splitting the wood of the frame or stretcher strip. The size of the screw and the D-ring will be determined by the weight of the frame.

—  9x12 is 108 sq"       $500   I might use this as a low-end benchmark

—12x12 is 144 sq"       $600

—11x14 is 154 sq"       $600

—12x18 is 216 sq"       $675

—12x24 is 288 sq"       $700

—18x24 is 432 sq"       $875

—24x24 is 576 sq"     $1000    

—30x24 is 720 sq"     $1850    I might use this as a median benchmark

Framing Choices:


Framing tells people how to you want them to view your paintings. It tells them if you think of your work as contemporary, romantic, modern, cheap, important.


It should never overpower your painting, it should never be more important than your painting. People should not notice the frame before the painting. In a group, the framing should help unify the exhibit. Lots of different kinds of frames are distracting, and may actually make it difficult to 'see' the art work.


Please don't use a diploma frame for a painting, or spray gold on a damaged/wooden frame. Frames don't have to be expensive, but they should not scream "flea market" or "trash can".  


Sometimes I start with the frame in mind; I know what I am going to paint, I know how I plan it to look, I know how I want the viewer to see my work. Deciding on the frame takes a worry off the table to begin with. I limit myself to only a few styles (actually, 3). For a show, I think about how I want the display to look before I frame (and often, before I paint).


NOTE: In a museum, the frames you see used are often either frames the artist designed or chose. If that is not available, then the curator will select a period frame of the same time period as the painting.  That may not be appropriate for YOUR painting. 


If you're not sure where to start, go into a gallery that carries work similar to yours, and see what the artists there use.

Matting Art Work under Glass:


Pertaining to how an artist DISPLAYS their work (matted works) for sale.


For works on paper, fabric, or other fragile surfaces, a mat is used; a mat can also be used with oils and acrylics as protection because of age. Sometimes oil paintings have a matting, sometimes linen, and then it may be under glass to protect the fabric. Museums will put fragile/very valuable paintings under glass. Even if you don't see a mat, they have put spacers between the glass and the mat. 






A mat serves to keep the art work (watercolor, photograph, drawing, etc., from touching the glass. Artwork can be damaged if it comes in contact with glass or plexiglass too long, usually because of moisture getting inside between the art and the glass and IT CANNOT BE KEPT OUT--even with tape. The art may also come to stick to the glass/plexiglass.




We all went to the same Home Ec class, that taught us to "use a mat color that picks up a color in the painting (image)". While that may be fine for a private home (although when I just said that to an interior decorator, she visibly cringed), IT MAY NOT BE BEST FOR AN ARTIST'S DISPLAY. 


As an artist, you want your WORK to show up, not what is around it; a colored mat only distracts from your work. If you look at the professional works in galleries and museums, especially contemporary work, the mat is white, or black (sometimes gray), with a single type of frame. You want all the matting and framing to 'fall away' when someone looks at your display, so they will only see the artwork. Various colored mats, especially with different types of frames, distracts from the work and the look of your overall display. They creates a visual cacophany that can actually make it uncomfortable to look at—a viewer can 'hear' the discord in their mind. 


Also, colors can limit how the viewer see your work


Go into a commercial gallery, or a museum, and look at how any given artist's work is displayed. Different artists may make different selections, but the more uniform an individual's work is displayed, the easier it is for the buyer to 'see' which ones appeal to them. 


Occasionally you will see work in a museum matted with a beige, even fabric, mat. That will usually means it was one the artist or the original buyer selected, and then that becomes part of the overall provenance or look of the work. It may also speak to the style of the period. But unless your work is also in that style, KEEP IT SIMPLE. 


If you have several different syles, and mat them differently, then keep them grouped separately.




Yes. Yes you do.


I wrote a blog about this 3 years ago. I stand by what I said then, and want to emphasize one important point: There are lots of people who want to buy artwork, but they may not be on any social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, etc.). If you direct them to your feed on these platforms, they will not be able to view it, without joining—Which. They. Don't. Want. To. Do. 


But ANYONE can get on the internet and go your website. Easy-peasy.


You do not need to know html code, you can do it for free, and you can just have one page, if you want. Even if you pay, it can be for less than $200 a YEAR. 


Just read it: Does an Artist Need a Website?

a hook shows because the wire is too long

offset clip and screw to hold canvas in frame (this is a floater frame; you reverse the clip for a traditional frame).