Framing 9x12 Alien Paintings

How much should I spend on framing my artwork? It is easy for an artist to lose money on a painting by framing it.  Framing it, however, also makes it look nice and makes buying a painting turn key for the buyer. All they have to do is hang it on their wall.

It is, however, bad business to sell my artwork for less than it costs to buy the panel, buy the paints, pay myself, make a profit and frame it.


I listen to a podcast called "Art Juice". I like the business advise they give to working artists and they have suggested that you should only spend 10% of the price of your painting for the frame.

I like mathematical formulas like this. It helps me price my work and helps me figure out what I can sell my paintings for.

Pricing is a tricky thing as an artist.

This formula, however, helped me figure out my pricing for my monster art exhibit of 2020. I figured out how much it would cost me to make a frame the size of my largest painting, then I multiplied that cost by 10 to get the price of the finished piece.  I then took that overall price and divided it by the number of square inches in the piece to get an overall price per square inch. 

I took the price per square inch and applied that to all of the paintings in my exhibit (increasing the price a little for the smaller paintings) and viola, I had pricing figured out.

It worked out great and I feel good about the prices I came up with for my Monster Art Exhibit. These prices will probably be the lowest prices I ever offer my original artwork for. 

The experience of creating the exhibit and creating the panels and the frames for each painting, taught me to buy panels and frames that are in a standard size instead of asking my husband to make them for me. It is cheaper than paying my husband for his time.  And let's be honest, I have more important ways to spend my marriage political capital than on standard size frames and panels.  

Buying standard size panels were very inexpensive.  And there is no way my husband could make them for less.  Frames on the other hand, need to look great so they can show off my artwork. I'm finding a standard quality frame is around 4x the price I paid for the panels. And still, there is no way my husband could make them for less. 

Let's lay out the real prices for the frames for a 9x12 painting.

I found some maple floating frames on Blick for around $18 for a 9x12 frame.  It's the exact type of frame I want to use to frame this series.

Using the 10% rule, that means I would need to sell these paintings for $180 each.

My plan, however, as of right now is to sell them between $100 and $125 each.  I could find a slightly cheaper option that has a sticker to attach the frame to the painting. A sticker. Ok, I think it is technically double sided tape. But No. I don't think so.  

So, either I need to sell the paintings for $180 each or find another way to frame the paintings for $10 or less.

As I started painting these pieces, I decided that I was going to think about how to finish off the edges of the paintings while I was painting them instead  of waiting until I was all done, like I did in 2020, to think about how to finish off the edges. 

I decided that I wanted to wrap the color around the edge of the painting instead of painting all the edges yellow or black or some other non descript neutral color.

On the first painting, I ended up with bands of color that wrapped around the edge.

So cool. I was liking it.

Then on my second painting, I had a lamp that went off the edge of the painting.  I drew the other half of the lamp around the edge. (I still need to finish painting it and fix the drawing..this is a process photo)

I liked the effect. Then I drew a picture hanging on the wall of the same painting around the edge.

The next painting had a bookshelf, a school desk, a chair, the legs of a teacher that I drew and painted around the edge of the painting.

I found it. I know how I am going to frame these paintings for less than $10 each.  I'm going to spend $10 of my time, bespoke painting the items that are cut off in the painting around the edges of the painting.

It looks nice and all the buyer has to do is hang it on their wall.


  • Thanks Rachel. I hope the specifics of this post are helpful to you in some way.

    Pamela B Hanks
  • Love it! It gives it a cool 3D quality. Great solution. And I really loved reading about how you calculated your cost. Interesting!


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