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My name is Josh Baker and I'm just getting into the world of art shows as a landscape / cityscape photographer. My goal as of now is to do a handful of shows around the Chicago area next year and then rapidly increase my show schedule and possibly radius in 2017 and beyond.
Being in the midst of just starting out, I'm hoping to use this great resource to bounce ideas around. For anyone wishing to check out my work please feel free to visit
With all that said, here are a bunch of questions to start things off. I appreciate any and all thoughts and ideas you folks might have.

1) Canvas wraps vs metal (aluminum)? I've been checking out the local (Chicago area) art shows and have noticed quite the mix of materials being used. My first thought was that collectors / buyers would be more inclined to purchase a landscape image on canvas. However some artists have said that they have all but abandoned canvas for metal prints or other substrates / materials citing similar or better sales and lower production cost (I'll be using White House Custom Color and Fine Art America for production as of now). I'm curious if any other 2D artists have any thoughts.

2) Is the selling of matted prints worth it? Sure, almost everyone (2D artist) has a print bin, but are any of them making enough to justify the labor and expense of matting prints? I've seen on here and elsewhere that it might be better or offer only larger wall art pieces or limit the smaller pieces to image blocks or other more unique items. Could the slightly higher priced image blocks or bamboo prints be a viable alternative to traditional matted prints?

3) Special order vs cash and carry. Because of some startup budget constraints I was hoping to run my business on a custom order model. I've seen this around art shows and was curious what others thought. My goal is to pursue more of the higher end buyers then say the average bargain shopper. Granted, I'm sure this is everyone's goal at one point or another. However, is this special order model even practical these days or does the majority of buyers insist / expect to go home with their art the same day?

4) Has anyone ever tried creating one price per size of image across multiple materials. For example 8x12 as a metal, acrylic or canvas for $150. I made a spreadsheet of five substrates and figured my sale price and then averaged the five to come up with an average price. My thought was that this would streamline my sales process and uncomplicate it for any buyer since they would only have to know the image size to determine the price . Does this actually help sales or do people question the method behind it and end up potentially costing sales.

5) A dozen large images vs a couple dozen (or more) small images? I'm currently doing different layout designs for my booth (both 10x10 and 10x20). I'm quite divided over whether to stick with a dozen or so large images (40x60) or to go with maybe 30 or so smaller images such as 24x36's. I feel I have a decent portfolio of work that might benefit from being shown at the larger size however that also obviously cuts down on the variety of work shown.
I've done some mockups to illustrate my booth design concepts which I'll include to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. The mocked up images are all roughly 40x60.
Thanks in advance for any feedback to this long winded post.

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I can answer some of your questions.

first of all, collectors don't buy photography. People buy photography as a less expensive (than paintings) way to decorate. Photographers went to canvas because the cost per size and handling ability is much better than framed under glass. But you will run into shows put on by art centers that have traditional painters on their board who will not like photographs on canvas because they feel threatened by the perceived competition. unframed  matted prints in bins can be approximately 75% of your sales if not more if you price correctly.

Larry Berman


Thanks Larry, guess I may have to reconsider the matted prints. Any thoughts on un-matted prints that are instead dry mounted for instance?
More work for the person who purchases. Matted (ready to frame) in standard frame sizes works best. Depending on the size, you an hinge instead of mount. I hinge everything under 16x20 print size.

Larry Berman
Thanks, I appreciate your timely feedback. I was hoping to minimize my labor by avoiding the matting though I could see where this may not work out in the end.

Another issue when first starting out is printing too many untested images that you'll end up throwing in the trash over time. Here's an article I wrote that addresses that issue.

Larry Berman

Thanks for pointing me to this article. I especially took note of limiting the sizes to just two as well as not loading up on untested prints. One idea I had was maybe only having three copies of my top 8-10 images (as per 500px) in 5x7 & 12x18 print sizes (not sure what the matted size would be).
I know 500px might not equate well to the art buying market but it seems to be the best method I have to getting feedback on my images.

That's a web site only photographers visit. There's absolutely no correlation with selling prints to the public.

Larry Berman

Have you found any means to test images prior to doing a live art show? While art shows are the gold standard I'm curious if anyone has another method to conduct "focus groups" sorta speak of art. It would be nice to find one small way of taking the edge off the gamble that seems to be this business.

No. Nothing like doing an art show and seeing hundreds or thousands of people walk by. Make sure to observe which images people are drawn to even if they don't buy them. Do that by watching which pieces are handled in your unframed bins.

Larry Berman

That certainly makes sense and it will be interesting to watch how people physically interact with my art. Hopefully with plenty of cash in hand.

Sometimes matting a 5x7 in a 14 x 18 or 16x20 mat, especially when presented in vertical orientation, is spectacular. The larger space around it gives the image greater presence. Has to be the appropriate image, like a close up of a face or something. Sometimes we mat small horizontal images in vertical mat orientation.  You can even do 6x9 images this way. Make sure you don't center the image in the mat, but leave much more space at bottom. You might benefit from reading Picture Framing Magazine and finding some of the specific books they've published discussing matting techniques. We often use three or more images in a set and frame them this way so they go together on a wall.

The world of matting is certainly going to be an entirely new venture for me. I guess I never paid that much attention to the practice. Sounds like another area I'll need to dedicate some time.
Do you get most of your matting supplies from I've been told and seen online that many feel they are the best supplier around these days.


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