Professional and semi-professional
pressed flower artists must
effectively market their images. The market is competitive, and
keeping costs down while using quality materials is of prime
importance. Professional ways of presenting your pressed flower work in
an effective manner is essential. In some instances an piece can be
marketed by itself, but more often an art mat should be used, and at times
Some of common places to sell matted pressed flower art are through
retail stores, street markets, art and photography exhibitions, craft
shows and fund raising projects. You will find competition from other
with any of these alternatives, so provide the
best possible product at the lowest price. Assuming you have a pressed
flower artwork that is readily saleable, there are ways to present that
art to the end user in a highly attractive manner.
Using art mats: Try putting your artwork behind several
different mats. This can be done using the
corner samples at a custom cutting counter. It becomes readily
apparent that the perception of the image changes radically with
different combinations of colors. Most will enhance the image, and
some will stand out immediately as excellent choices. In some cases
double mats will work best, but pressed flower pictures without bright colors often work best with a single mat. Adding a single or double mat will
usually be cost efficient, since discerning end-users will appreciate the
Here are some fundamental ideas when considering using art mats.
Single mats: If a single mat is used, it is may be safest and
most desirable to use a neutral color, such as off white, cream, light
grays etc. These go very well with most pressed flower works and fit into most home
settings. If you wish a stronger color, try to match the mat color
with a dominant color in the image. i.e. Lots of dark green trees in
the picture, use a dark green mat. For black and white photographs,
off-white mats with a black core are very effective.
Using a double mat: Double mats add considerably to the
richness of the your presentation of pressed flower art. The best method is to use a neutral
outer mat, and a color for the inner mat that matches a dominant color
in the image. The amount of the inner mat that can be seen is called
the reveal, and should vary with the size of the mat. A reveal of 3/16"
is close to being an industry standard, but use your own judgment.
When using a white mat over another white mat, a reveal of 1/2" or
even much more can work very well. Double mats are usually twice the
price of a single.
Adding decorative cuts: Closed and open "V-grooves",
decorative corners and graphics can be attractive, but often
unnecessary. A closed v-groove is common, and can be cost
effective, especially with larger pressed flower work. The extra cost can be
recovered by a higher retail price. Closed v-grooves can be very
effective with single mats of conservation quality.
Summary: Selling images in this market is competitive. If
your presentation is as good or better than your competitors, then the
quality and uniqueness of your image will determine the outcome. There
is a large appetite for well-done photos, artwork and crafts. Keep it
simple, keep your costs to a minimum, don't expect to get rich, and
most importantly, enjoy the experience.
Types of mat cuts explained
These are some of the cuts available, and the terminology used to
Open v-groove, 3/16" reveal
Message box, 3/16" reveal
Double opening, 3/16" reveal
Floating the image
#246 Walnut frame
Double mat, light blue outer, dark blue inner.
What type of mat to use: The two common types are regular
mats and conservation quality (rag) mats. It would always be nice to
use conservation quality, but this market is very competitive, and
price is important. Regular matboard is still of very high quality,
and we suggest they be used for any image that does not have a high
value in itself. Example: Photos and printer copies.
Conservation mats should be used for original artwork, high quality
prints, Limited editions prints or any image that has a high value in
itself. Price wise, a presentation using regular mats will cost less
than half that of using conservation quality. Technical information on
mats can be seen on the pages of the two largest mat companies,
Crescent and Bainbridge.
Size of mat: Use standard sizes when possible, allowing your
customer to buy a frame easily. Non-standard size mats mean an
expensive custom frame is necessary, and most end-users recognize this
when purchasing matted images. Standard sizes are 5 x 7, 8 x 10, 11 x
14, 16 x 20 and 20 x 24. The borders around the image should be a
minimum of 1 1/2 inches for small images, and up to 3 inches or more
for large images. A 5 x 7 image in an 8 x 10 mat will give borders of
1 1/2 inches all round.
If you plan to provide a frame with the mat, keeping to standard
sizes is not important.
Obtaining mats at wholesale prices: Most photo stores and
many large retailers will carry a few sizes and very limited colors,
but dont supply volume. They are also expensive. Larger art supply
stores may have very limited selections of mats in volumes of 25 or so
at some discount. To get a true wholesale price, scour the Internet
for companies that cater to the smaller vendor. Expect to buy in some
volume in order to get the best price possible. Fifty or more
identical mats will get you into a price range that will keep your
product competitive. A regular 11 x 14 double mat in a local store
will cost $4.50 to $6.00. In volumes less that 200, you should pay
$2.50 or less. Be careful of highly discounted mats that are not by
major manufacturers such as Crescent and Bainbridge. Some of these are
not of equivalent quality, and may warp or discolor quickly or
otherwise harm the image.
Final note on mats: KEEP IT SIMPLE. Do not try to match
every image with a different color combination. A color combination
that fits several images quite well will meet your needs much more
efficiently. One opening size is better than several. Your cost will
be reduced, and those images that do not sell will not saddle you with
high or useless inventories of mats.
Backings: You will need a backing for the mat and image. The
backing completes the package and protects the image. For regular
mats, we recommend manila board or heavier non-corrugated cardboard
(for mats 11 x 14 and smaller), and foam core for larger mats. If you
use conservation quality mat, your backing MUST be acid-free. Use
acid-free mat or acid-free foam core.
To frame or not to frame: In general, do not get heavily
into framing for the "drop by" market. The customer can pick a frame
of their choice if the mat is a standard size. Consider having a few
framed pieces so the customer can see a finished result, and can buy
your framed piece if they like. Aluminum "backloader" frames are
inexpensive, and very easy to load, as are clip frames. A thorough
search of the internet will find some high quality wood frames at
reasonable prices, and custom sizes are often not much more.
Thin plexi glass (1 mm.) is becoming very popular as a replacement
for glass. It is much lighter and being very durable is a big plus. It
also provides some solar radiation protection for outdoor events or
Packaging: A covering of some sort is a necessity. A product
made for this purpose is a re-sealable polybag. It protects the mat
package from the elements and dirty fingers, and also gives a very
professional appearance. Some ultraviolet protection is built in to
all plastics. These bags can sometimes be found in Art supply stores
but frequently the Internet is the only choice.
Shrink-wrapping also works, but requires time and equipment, and is
finicky. Shrink-wrapped matted art often has a tendency to bow in hot
Assembly: Tape the image to the back of the mat on one long
side only. This allows the picture to breath under differing
atmospheric conditions. Use magic (scotch) tape or something similar.
For conservation matting, an acid free tape is mandatory. Photo
corners are good, but time consuming. Attaching the back to the mat is
Displays: It should not be necessary to have wire racks or
other expensive methods of display your product. A white cardboard box
neatly cut can be sufficient if presented well. Many larger
communities will have stores specializing in acrylic displays, and you
may find ready made ones of the right size and shape. Large stationary
stores often carry these or may have other cardboard displays to fit
your needs. Foam core (3/16") may be purchased at Art supply stores,
and a good utility knife, a glue gun and some imagination can create
How much to charge? A general rule is to add up the cost of
your mat, image, bag and backing. Add some for labor. If you are going
into a show, add a proportional cost for this. Multiply the total by 2
to get a ballpark figure. If you sell through a retailer, the "norm"
is for them to double whatever they pay you to get the minimum retail