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Before You Frame That Picture

Updated on August 7, 2013
Pure Innocence by Teress Esaw
Pure Innocence by Teress Esaw

What's The Value of the Picture?

My husband and I started collecting art about twenty years ago and with that, learned a lot along the way. Some mistakes can cost you hundreds of dollars if you are not aware of what is involved in framing your art purchase.

You must first decide what is the value of the picture that you are about to frame My husband and I was once standing in our favorite art gallery where we personally knew the owner. A woman came in and purchased a print and then wanted it framed. The print was worth $50.00 and she spent over $300.00 to frame it!

What You Should Know About Your Art

You will need to know whether or not your art purchase is an original, unlimited print, limited edition print, artist proof, canvass, hand-embellished, or giclee. These categories will be very important when deciding how much you should be willing to spend to frame it. For others, the artist in question may be a reason for going overboard in framing costs.

Open Edition Print
Open Edition Print

Urban Flower by Teress Esaw

Urban Flower - Limited Edition of 2500 Price: $34.99
Urban Flower - Limited Edition of 2500 Price: $34.99 | Source

What to Consider When Framing

Open Edition

This is a series of prints or objects in an art edition that has an unlimited number of copies.

They are widely seen in the homes of people to cover empty, bland walls. They are printed copies of an original. You can usually find these on sites like and cost anywhere from $10.00 to $50.00. These prints usually do not increase in any substanstial value over time.

I've seen people spend hundreds of dollars framing a print. When framing this level of a print choose a nice frame but not expensive one. Otherwise, your frame will actually be worth more than the picture.

Persons will also choose a print if that really like the picture but are not willing to invest in a more costly medium of that original. In this case, the more expensive framing will give the illusion that the buyer bought a more expensive version of the print.

The definition below will describe the basic procedure for the reproduction of the printing of art. Use it in conjunction of the explanation of the medium of your art.


An image created from a master wood block, stone, plate, or screen, usually on paper. Prints are referred to as multiples, because as a rule many identical or similar impressions are made from the same printing surface, the number of impressions being called an edition. When an edition is limited to a specified number of prints, it is a limited edition. A print is considered an original work of art and today is customarily signed and numbered by the artist.

Original Print

One-of-a-kind print in which the artist personally conceived the image, created the master plates and executed the entire printing process.

Depending on the medium (not canvass), framing for this level of art can start at $250 and to the higher end of $400.

The following production of printing of a art piece is a Remarque. Once my husband understood the significance of a Remarque, he refuses to purchase a piece if it is a piece that is available with a remarque. This is another level where you will find your "very serious" buyers. Remarques are available in pencil and/or color. The color remarques are more expensive and, therefore, your piece more valuable than a lithograph that is sign/numbered.

Rekindle by Edwin Lester on Canvas
Rekindle by Edwin Lester on Canvas

Canvas Transfer

This is an art reproduction on canvas which is created by a process such as serigraphy, photomechanical or giclée printing. Some processes can even recreate the texture, brush strokes and aged appearance of the original work.

For those of you who like the actual look of a "painted" piece of art, this is a nice but more expensive choice. It mimics having a copy of the "original" painting done by the artist.

Since the medium for a canvas painting is usually acrylic (paint), your will need to "breathe." They are not usually framed under glass.

For this piece I choose for the frame: Dark Walnut Frame, which was $249, I choose a gold matting and a Dark Spruce inner lining. The cost of the canvass piece is $150 with a remarque for a total cost of $399.  The size of the piece is 14" x 34"

Restored by Edwin Lester
Restored by Edwin Lester


Intimacy by Artist Teress Esaw
Intimacy by Artist Teress Esaw | Source

Most "serious" buyers will start at this level. You will spend anywhere from $50.00 to hundreds of dollars acquiring your find. If you have purchased for investment reasons, you should think about spending from $250 to $300.


This is a printing technique using a planographic process in which prints are pulled on a special press from a flat stone or metal surface that has been chemically sensitized so that ink sticks only to the design areas and is repelled by the non-image areas. Lithography was invented in 1798 in Germany by Alois Senefelder.

The above pictured item is named Restored by Edwin Lester, Size:  24 x 24 inches.  It is a Limited Edition Lithograph with an Edition Size of 938 and this print will be available on September 11, 2009.

Lady Locks by Charles Bibb

Lady Locks purchased for $400 (2011) today worth $800 -- Sold Out
Lady Locks purchased for $400 (2011) today worth $800 -- Sold Out

Lady Locks Lithograph (Signed & Number)

My husband and I purchased this lithograph with a colored remarque and it's sign and number by the artist Charles Bibbs in collaboration with Larry Poncho Brown. Measures: Size: 20.5x 39

When we purchased this item, it was already framed and matted. It has a very low number out of the series (under 20/150). Soon after we purchased the print it sold out on the primary market and can now only be purchased through a gallery that didn't sell theirs or on the secondary market.

The lithograph hit the market in the late 90s around $250, we purchased late last year for $825 framed, the picture was running $450 with remarque and now hovers between $850 to $1400 unframed.

Limited Edition and Signed and Number Lithos

A limited number of identical prints numbered in succession and signed and supervised by the artist. Any additional prints have been destroyed.

This piece will have the number of your particular print/and the total amount that was printed. For example: 25/1200 with signature of the artist.

In this type of a purchase, you always want the lowest possible number of the series that you can get. The low number tells you how close to the reproduction of the original that it is. Therefore, it will have more characteristics of the original than the last copy. For this level of print you should consider spending $250 to $375.

Print with a Penciled Remarque
Print with a Penciled Remarque
Picture with Color Remarque by Ron Louque
Picture with Color Remarque by Ron Louque


Is an Additional enhancements by the artist on some or all of the final prints within an edition.

These range will be a printing of an original painting on various degrees of paper weights. Spending anywhere from $300 to $450 will be your range.

Print Proof Types

Following, you will find additional special prints for the more serious and investment level art collector. In framing these items, you would consider spending anywhere from $250 to double the price of the print.

Proofs are prints authorized by the artist in addition to the limited signed and numbered edition. The total size of an art edition consists of the signed and numbered prints plus all outstanding proofs. If a set of proofs consists of more than one print, numbers are inscribed to indicate the number of the prints within the total number of the particular type of proof, (e.g., AP 5/20 means the fifth print in a set of twenty identical prints authorized as artist proofs). Proofs are generally signed by the artist as validation of the prints.

Artist's Proof (AP) - Print intended for the artist's personal use. It is common practice to reserve approximately ten percent of an edition as artist's proofs, although this figure can be higher. The artist's proof is sometimes referred to by its French épreuve d'artist (abbreviation E.A.). Artist's proofs can be distinguished by the abbreviation AP or E.A., commonly on the lower left of the work.

Winter by Keith Mallett - Artist Proof Edition Size 150
Winter by Keith Mallett - Artist Proof Edition Size 150

Cancellation Proof - Final print made once an edition series has been finished to show that the plate has been marred/mutilated by the artist, and will never be used again to make more prints of the edition.

Hors d'Commerce Proof (HC) - Print identical to the edition print intended to be used as samples to show to dealers and galleries. These proofs may or may not be signed by the artist.

Printer's Proof (PP) - Print retained by the printer as a reference. Artists often sign these prints as a gesture of appreciation.

Trial Proof (TP) - Pre-cursor to a limited edition series, these initial prints are pulled so that the artist may examine, refine and perfect the prints to the desired final state. Trial proofs are generally not signed.

Framing is just as a personal choice as the actual print or painting that you have chosen to adorn your walls.

Decide before going in to see your framer what is the maximum amount that you are willing to spend. Part of that will be decided on how important your investment in the art itself.

Happy Framing.

Do You Feel that Art Purchases Are a Luxury?

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    • profile image

      Rhonda Clark 

      2 years ago

      I am looking for the picture intimacy. I saw this limited edition print many years ago. I have been looking for it. Is it still in print anywhere?

    • profile image

      Teress Esaw 

      5 years ago

      My email is if you would like to see some original work I have done lately.

      Urban Flower is discontinued, I had problems with the publishers stealing from me :(

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      There is one on ebay

    • profile image


      6 years ago


      How are you selling the pic for?


    • profile image


      7 years ago


      I have a limited edition print of Urban Flower, beautifully double matted and framed. Available for purchase.

    • Lady Summerset profile imageAUTHOR

      Lady Summerset 

      7 years ago from Willingboro, New Jersey

      Teress! How are you doing?! My husband and I doing well. We are always bragging about your wonderful work with pastels. Would love to see what you've done lately!

    • profile image

      Teress Esaw 

      7 years ago

      Hi Lady!!! Nice to see ya! Wanted to tell Reta the name of the picture is Pure Innocence, that's probably why she can't find it. I do my drawings in Pastel, not colored pencil. If any one wants info on my work they can message me on Facebook!!! Hope you and your husband are doing well!!

    • Lady Summerset profile imageAUTHOR

      Lady Summerset 

      7 years ago from Willingboro, New Jersey

      Greetings Helen, It looks like Rolf is a very popular UK-borned/citizen Artist. His scope varies across subjects such as portraits to landscapes. He is also in his 80's, teaches, and has recently visited the Queen with his 2011 Edition. His style is reminiscent to Rembrandt, Monet, and Bindi. He paints the world from his point of view, with his thoughts, and his impression of the subject. He purposely aims to "draw" the viewer into "experience." As though you have actually stepped into the picture.

      My advice is: First choose the painting that "speaks" to you and then be willing to "spend" the amount to get the "best quality" that you can get. Limited Editions should be the starting point but make sure the item is "signed and numbered" by artist. The next would be to get the painting on "canvas" signed and numbered, and finally an "original" which should bear the artist's signature.

      If money is a concern, you can forego purchasing painting already framed, allowing you to invest more in the painting and then frame later hoping to strike a better frame deal with your personal frame. Secondly, you can get the pricing of framing and matting first and use information as a bargining tool, if you can have picture reasonably and decently framed cheaper by your framer!

      What is an HC= Hors de Commerce. An impression pulled outside the edition for the personal use of the master printer and the printer-collaborator, if any, or the publisher (the group or individual funding the project).

      If you can/are able to purchase an Hors de Commerce you will be purchasing a painting between 1 to at the most 20 of the total edition of that painting and he seems to run small editions of 395 to 400. This is a great deal!

      Hope this helps!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am looking at purchasing a hors de commerece print by Rolf Harris it is 10/10, i was wondering are they more expensive to buy, i would love your opinion

    • Lady Summerset profile imageAUTHOR

      Lady Summerset 

      7 years ago from Willingboro, New Jersey

      Greetings Reta, I've been to Teress' home several times and have purchased 2 original works by her. Her medium is colored pencils which looks like the work was actually painted. She did an original for me very like Urban flower I will have to take a picture of it and add it to this page.

      Urban Flower, like "Intimacy" and other prints of her are hard to find since they were done so many years ago.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Framing is expensive period. Right now I have prints that at this period in my life are too expensive to frame. i am looking for Urban flower by Teress Esaw but this picture is hard to find.


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