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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 www.bakervisuals.com
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.
-Josh

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I pay for hand cut mats from http://dixiematting.com

There are a number of resources like that available to artists who don't want to spend the time doing busy work.

Larry Berman

I will be certainly looking into every way possible to streamline my business. Though I'm sure the costs will eventually outweigh the convience factor. I just hope that I can find the right balance in the first year or so.

No, I get most of my matting supplies from Montana Moulding, a picture frame industry materials distributor. I live close to Billings, MT and can go there a few times each year and pick up my stuff. I've had a good relationship with this company since 1998. I've used others, such as Colorado Moulding and Larsen & Juhl in Denver, but I prefer to get it from the folks in Billings.

You live in Chicago. You would benefit greatly by getting into Artists Frame Service, a custom frame store started by industry leader, Jay Goltz. He's one of the tops in the custom framing world. A frequent speaker nationwide, he's always presenting topics during the West Coast Art & Frame Show in Las Vegas, NV. I've met him. He's a great guy. If you know nothing about the framing world, you should learn something more than just where to get the best deal on mats and stuff. Learn about the design of things. Learn about trends. Learn what looks best with your work. Don't just try to do something to save money. As Larry states upthread, folks buy a lot of photography for decor. Well, Jay Goltz and his staff know decor and current market trends.

ARTISTS FRAME SERVICE WEBSITE They are retailers, so expect to pay some bucks to see what they suggest for your work. Once you learn something about it, get your stuff from a wholesale supplier and do what you can to do better than the others who do not care all that much about it.

Thanks Barrie for this recommendation. I certainly don't intend to slap the cheapest materials together but rather want to make sure that I'm not spending money that doesn't show a return in quality etc. I'll be checking into your recommendation shortly and will likely be investing in their knowledge for the foreseeable future.
Ultimately I hope to one day reach the level of "high end art". Where I can charge a slightly premium price for work that is regarded by buyers as being worth it in quality. Granted it'll probably take me 30 years to get there but I certainly have more time then money.
Thanks again for taking the time to share your knowledge. It's much appreciated.

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