We can all agree that most artwork and movie posters look better when framed. Most people consider frames the icing on the cake.
However, the major challenge is that frames are not cheap, and when professionally done, the final bill can be shocking. This article explains why!
Why on earth would you spend more on a frame than the film poster art!
I love decorating my house with movie posters, it is a fun, colorful, and effective way to make a room pop.
Another great thing about them is that they are cheap, easily available, and you can even get them for free from cinemas if you play your cards right. We even wrote an article on the subject: How To Get Free Movie Posters from Theaters? (Perfect for home cinemas)
Then if you become more obsessed with movie posters… as everyone does! Then you can start collecting artist prints, signed copies, and limited editions.
Plus, collecting posters from your favorite artists (not cheap) is a blast, especially if you are lucky enough to get posters by these artists:
How you display these types of posters is more dependent on individual circumstances and not all posters are created equal.
How I justify the framing expense
Considering movie posters can be so affordable, it can be eye-opening how much the framing can be in comparison, and that is what people struggle with justifying.
If I can buy a poster for $10, then why would I spend $60 to get it framed? It doesn’t seem worth it as the framing is six times more expensive than the poster.
That’s not how I look at it anymore, I consider the final product against the final cost.
I don’t factor in the individual prices. If I spend $10 on a poster and $60 on framing, that is irrelevant to me. I consider what the final framed poster looks like and was it worth spending $70.
After all, if you went into an art gallery and saw a framed print you liked, then that price includes everything, the print and the frame it is displayed in.
What I look for in a frame
I do get my posters professionally framed, and I think it is worth doing in my opinion.
All my frames and mounts are the same, so they all look uniform when hung in the same room.
I go for a standard black frame and a light cream mount.
Frames and mounts are mainly for aesthetics, so which ones you chose are down to your own eye and tastes. Some people just frame the poster without a mount, but I like to mount because they keep the poster from touching the glass.
There are a couple of technical issues you need to consider. Posters are not made to last, they are made for promotional and marketing reasons, and a generally printed on fairly cheap paper.
So, if you want to hang a poster and have it still look good a few years in the future, there are a couple of things you need to do:
- Glass: I believe the best glass to use is 1/8 inch UV filtered plexiglass. This blocks damaging UV light, which can degrade the ink on the poster. The glass itself is really clear and is quite robust. So, you can be fairly confident that you can move it around locations without scratching it.
- Backing: Do not have a standard cardboard backing in your frame. You need to use an acid-free backing. As I said, posters are usually printed with cheap inks and paper, and they are easily degraded by acid. So, ensure you use an acid-free material.
If you are collecting old and expensive posters, you may want to have them linen-backed, which helps reduce the folds and makes for a better presentation. Linen backing isn’t cheap, and it’s best to leave it to the professionals. This article will get you up to speed: How Much Does It Cost to Linen Back a Poster?
This might seem a bit picky to you, but it does help, and professional framers will know what you are asking for and why.
Why is standard framing expensive
Framing movie posters is a pretty usual thing to do, and you can walk into a shop, and one of the standard frame sizes will fit a traditional sized movie poster, and because they sell that sized frame, they will also sell pre-cut mounts to fit that frame.
Some big chain stores have the standard poster frame sizes, and it may be worth it to stock up on them when you see a sale. I’ve picked up cheap frames at these stores: Blick Art Materials, Hobby Lobby, and even Target. But, I highly recommend trying to support your local frame shop and not the conglomerates.
So, in theory, you can just go in and buy the materials yourself, and it will work out cheaper. However, I think some people overestimate how much framing professionally is.
You might get quoted $60, and I understand why that seems high. Still, when you think about it, you are buying a fairly large frame, buying a mount, buying the glass, buying acid-free backing, and then paying for the labor costs of that professional to fit the poster into the frame.
So, is $60 all that expensive? Not really.
It would cost me $45 to buy the frame, mount, backing, and glass I use. Therefore, I am only paying $15 for a professional service, which saves me time and effort. That is good value in my opinion.
Why is custom framing even more expensive
This does get a bit more complicated and expensive if you get a professional to frame a non-standard sized poster.
I have bought some oversized posters before and these proved to be very expensive to frame.
The reason these seem a lot more expensive is due to economies of scale.
Either the framer will have to spend time cutting the frames, mount, backing, and glass, which involves more labor costs on top of the obviously greater amount of materials used for a bigger frame.
Or they have to order everything from a factory. As it is a custom order, they will be given a price which they will add a mark-up on. They will be getting a mark-up on standard frames also, but because they will be buying the standard frames in bulk, they will be buying at a bulk discount price, which will be passed onto you to an extent.
I like all my movie posters to be framed; that is my personal choice. I could do it myself, but by the time I learned the technique, bought the equipment needed, sourced the material, and factored in all the time taken to do all that… then to me, it is more cost-effective to pay a professional to do it.
Plus, if you are considering becoming a serious movie poster collector, you will want professionals handling your investments. The smallest slip-up could cost hundreds more than the frame itself.
Plus, some people prefer to just dry mount a poster on foam board but even this can cost serious money as this article outlines.
And when talking about movie poster art, you or someone you know may want to become a poster designer. That’s why we are creating an online school dedicated to poster design and taught by actual movie poster artists. Sign up for our Newsletter today, and you will be notified when classes drop.
Of just head over to our Poster Grind YouTube channel and check out some of our free courses!