How many times have I gone into a good gallery and seen badly presented work? Very rarely, because believe it or not, gallery owners and buyers really care about that stuff. Unfortunately I know a fair few artists who don’t. They create wonderful work but then their frames are falling apart, the mounts aren’t cut straight or the print margins are ink-smudged.
A good friend, who’s something of a repeat offender in this department, once left a short and curly black hair squashed between the mount and the glass of an etching of his. I’m cringing as I write this. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when he actually sold it. I guess he’d argue that this proves his point, that presentation doesn’t matter and that it’s the work and the ideas behind it that count.
Well yes, of course the work is of prime importance but give a thought to those potential buyers. If they fall in love with your work, dodgy frames and all, then fine, they’ll buy it regardless (or they’ll buy it unframed and sort it themselves). I find, though, that there are often several pieces that they’re looking at and so which would they buy? Probably not yours. They’d choose the one that’s beautifully presented and therefore ready to put up at home. It’s the easiest option.
And that goes for galleries too. They need a vibrant and immaculate set-up to get those buyers through the door. All those white walls and wooden floors will go for nothing if the display is second-rate. They want work that’s ready to hang too, as they have better things to do than sort out shoddy frames (like selling the work?) And, in any case, what does badly presented work say about you, the artist? Does it show how professional you are? How seriously you take your work? Not really, no. I don’t think I’m being finicky for choosing quality frames for my work. I’m convinced that if the artist doesn’t think their work is worth presenting properly, then no-one else will either.
PS: This last image shows a poster size reproduction of Gail’s print First Light at Farringdon installed on hoardings along Blackfriars Bridge. It was part of a project sponsored by Network Rail to brighten up the bridge whilst Blackfriars Station was redeveloped for the Thameslink Programme.