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Why does the Frame cost more than the Art?

american gothic

Sometimes custom framing a simple, inexpensive print or poster winds up costing more than the art itself. A basic reproduction of famous art like American Gothic can be purchased for a few dollars. Custom framing that same print can be many times the original cost of the art. If you didn’t spend that much for the art, why would you spend more on your framing? Here are some of the reasons it’s hard to compare the cost of art to framing.

An inexpensive print or poster is going to run anywhere from $3 to $300, depending on the quality of the print. A poster is mass-produced and printed with lesser-quality inks on thin paper. A giclee is a fine-art print with a limited print run or printed on demand. Giclees typically are printed with higher quality inks on heavier paper and are sometimes signed by the artist. Neither of these are one-of-a-kind, rare, original, or custom works of art.

ornate gold frame

What affects the price of a project custom-framed with wood moulding?

  • Material – it’s wood! A natural product takes time to grow and process. Hardwoods, softwoods, veneers, and pressed woods will all cost different amounts.
  • Location of origin – was the frame made in the USA, Italy or China?
  • Production – has the wood been hand carved or machine milled?
  • Frame Finish – has the frame been hand finished and/or gilded in gold leaf?
  • Quantity – this frame was ordered especially for you. Was the frame moulding purchased as length, already chopped to size, or pre-assembled?
  • Glazing – is there glass or plexi? A non-glare finish? UV protection?
  • Labor – this one-of-a-kind frame package was specifically designed for your art and put together just for you. That takes time and care!

Too Good To Be True?

When a big box frame shop advertises “50% + 20% off”, it makes you think you will get 70% off. Let’s say the original price of your project is $500. If it were 70% off, the final price would reflect a $350 savings.  If it is 50% + 20% off, the final price would reflect a $300 savings. Not quite the deal you originally thought.

Here’s the kicker: big box shops will frequently mark their prices up specifically so they can mark them down and offer huge sales. Ask yourself what the true original price is before purchasing. Compare our prices – you won’t be disappointed!

grant wood

Grant Wood, artist of
American Gothic

Grant Wood was an American painter best known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest. American Gothic was painted with oils on wood in 1930. The painting won 3rd place in a contest hosted by the Art Institute of Chicago, who then purchased it. The iconic house is in Iowa and is referred to as ‘The Dibble House’. Wood intended the characters to be Father & Daughter; the man was actually modeled after Wood’s dentist and the woman is Wood’s sister. The general reception was very favorable, but Iowans felt it made them look dowdy. A Grant Wood landscape painting sold for $7 million in 2005, so you can imagine what American Gothic would fetch today.