Business considerations ... Q&A session
Q: Should prints be sold matted or unmatted?
A: (from Bill Ritchie)
Sometimes matting sets them off nicely, and can add a little security
in shipping, but it's also extra time and material which may not be
wanted by the customer. Business-wise, what's the best way to
If you really want to sell the print, mat it.
Also, shrink-wrap it in mylar or some kind of harmless, lightweight
protective transparent covering material. Call this lesson,
presentation of prints.
I underscore the words, If you really want to sell. Consider
your potential collector and the advantages to him or her, or to the
institution or client they represent. See your print from their point
of view. Look at it through their eyes. Set aside your prejudice
against shrink-wrap, for example. And don't use pulp matboard as a
cheap substitute for rag or museum board.
The reservations I hear expressed when I recommend
this are based on the costs of presentation. Rag matboard, two or
four ply, plus the backing of the mat (which is also rag or buffered
and surfaced board), the correct paste or adhesive for the hinges,
any decorative treatments and the shrink wrap add to the
We are suggesting somewhere between $20 and $40 in
expenses, sometimes, depending on volume and size of the print in the
presentation. My own rule of thumb is that it is ready to frame, with
no additional steps that must be taken.
Another reservation is that the potential
collector will have the print re-matted and framed anyway, or that it
will be matted for a standard Solander case and your money and effort
are wasted. I believe a survey would show that this is true only in a
small fraction of cases.
The important thing is, again, presentation. Think
of yourself as a chef in a very upscale restaurant, famous around the
world for the cuisine of which you are the master creator. You also
design the presentations, right down to the kind of lighting over the
diner's table. The sauce creates a lovely, colorful puddle lying
beside the main dish. A sprig of green and a slice of yellow root
To me, the art is in the process of the print; the
print is an artifact of my joy in printmaking. The matting is a show
of respect for the potential owner, that you have considered
everything within the foreseeable future of the print's next
A: (from James Mundie) I
must concur with Bill Ritchie's statements above. Unless one
presents their prints as David Bull does, as sets in their own boxes
for handling and viewing whenever the collector sees fit, one should
present one's work matted as professionally as possible. In the case
of prints, that means a clean well-cut acid-free museum board or 100%
rag board mat with generous margins. Let's face it -- most buyers of
prints want to frame them and stick them on their walls. The buyer
may very well take your print home and have it framed differently to
suit their tastes, but you as professional have shown the work to its
best advantage and provided a good example.
The other thing about a mat is that it serves to
protect the print from damage due to careless handling or a mishap
during shipping. It is absolutely necessary that the entire package
be wrapped in a protective coating such as shrink wrap, mylar or
acetate. This will keep dust, fingerprints, bird droppings and
whatever other ruinous filth from smudging your lovely presentation.
A friend of mine goes so far as to attach a piece of plexiglass with
clear archival tape to the matted package so that a buyer can simply
pop the whole thing into a standard size frame. Her customers seem
to really appreciate that.
A: (from ...)
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