Art connoisseurs appreciate everything there is involved in the creation of art. Those looking for paintings to beautify their homes can be astounded when they see the prices some paintings are listed at. Granted, a few are exceptional but those are the collector’s pieces. Art for home décor isn’t always pricey but it can take those new to the art world by surprise.
Listed below are a few things to know about the costs that factor into an artist’s overheads, and why you are likely to want to reframe your art before you put it on display. Artists and consumers frame for different reasons.
Factors that Influence the Cost of Art
Artist Graded Papers
The paper used to create art affects its longevity. The industry standard is to use acid-free paper. If it’s not acid-free, it’s susceptible to yellowing and fast degradation.
The most basic of acid-free papers is conservation grade papers. More premium papers are labelled as being archival or museum grade and these will be made from acid-free cotton. This will be either rags or cotton pulp whereas basic conservation paper is made of wood pulp.
Artist Graded paints
Dyes are prone to fading making them unsuitable for preservation. They are cheaper to work with if you all want to do is to have fun creating art, but for commercial artists focused on preserving their work, they will invest in a pigment-based material with a graded lightfastness.
Depending on the brand used, they will be listed as having one of two grades. ASTM stands for the American Society for Testing Materials. Despite being American, they are an international organisation. ASTM grading uses roman numeral systems I to V. I and II are considered high permanence, meaning they are the longest lasting and least affected by UV rays, whereas V indicates it can’t be relied on for longevity.
The other grading system is the Blue Wool Scale (BWS) that grades lightfastness or colour permanence on a rating of 1 to 8 with 1 having the highest permanence and 8 the worst.
Pigment-based materials that are either ASTM I or II or BSW 1 or 2 are artist quality paints. Dyes are rarely used for works intended to be framed for preservation.
There’s a reason artists like to work in a dedicated studio, and it has to do with light. As you will know, the UV rays of direct sunlight will damage ink pigments. Incandescent bulbs and fluorescent lights still emit UV radiation. Professional artists work out of studios not because they love an escape to hibernate to and get lost in their own creative world, but because they need the controlled environment.
Inks and paints are under artificial lights for a prolonged period of time. The longer they are exposed to UV radiation, the more damage is done to the pigments. The safest lighting with the lowest UV radiation is either fibre optic or LED. Most homes don’t have the right lighting conditions, hence the preference (more like a need) to work from a studio.
Temperature and Humidity Control
Not everyone has the luxury of using an art studio. Some have to use a spare room or even make do with the kitchen table. When that’s the case, the art being worked on needs to be kept at stable temperatures with humidity below 50% to protect the paper from damp. Damp paper will be at risk of mould, mildew, buckling or wrinkling.
The most economical way to control the storage and working environment is to run a dehumidifier.
Even after the work is created, the artist has one final choice to make and that’s how to best store their work. There are only two choices. Either frame it or take tremendous care storing it unframed.
Framing is the quickest way to protect artwork because it automatically protects it from environmental conditions that are most likely to damage it. Dust, light, heat, moisture and even fingerprints from being handled too often without wearing cotton gloves.
Not many artists are skilled in framing or put an emphasis on choosing a frame that really compliments the piece because customers mostly prefer to choose their own frame and reframe it anyway.
That’s why when you buy a new piece of art, the first thing you will consider doing is getting a new frame. The core reason is that artists frame for protection with budgeting in mind, whereas consumers want the same level of protection with a higher degree of beautification and personalisation.
Both benefits can be had without needing to resort to an expensive framing option. A range of professional quality frames and conservation materials are available for budget-friendly pricing.
If you get a chance to attend an art fair, meet an artist and want to discuss their work and how it’s produced, ask them about their materials, the paper they use, the types of paint and whether they work from a studio or are doing their best from a spare room. They will appreciate that you appreciate the effort they put into their craft.