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 go?

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 expenses.

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 life.

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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