Fine Art Trade Guild Framing Standards

At Seagull Gallery, we frame in line with the Fine Art Trade Guild Levels of Framing.

Purpose of the Four Levels of Framing

  • To offer you a consistent bench mark of standards
  • To give you an informed choice about the different levels of framing to suit your individual needs.
  • To enable you to compare quotations on a “like for like” basis. This helps to demonstrate why a job may be priced above that given by a competitor and why I am recommending a particular level of framing.
  • It helps to explain why there is more to framing than meets the eye, and helps you to approach a framer from a more informed positioning.

The explanation of the four levels below is based on the wording shown on the Fine Art Trade Guild Website.

LEVEL 1 (Ultimate Level) – This is the highest specification

Why choose Level 1 framing?

Good original frames should be retained wherever possible as these can enhance the value of the artwork. Frames can be replicated or replaced for display purposes, while the original is preserved in storage. Sometimes it is advantageous to retain an original windowmount (possibly gilded or decorated). A qualified framer will know how to do this and protect the artwork from any damage this original windowmount could otherwise inflict on the artwork.

Level 1 framing should give the best possible protection for your artwork or objects, whilst looking good and enabling you to view your framed work to best effect. By using the highest quality materials available and the best techniques, Seagull Gallery can give your work protection from physical and mechanical damage, airborne pollution and acids generated by many framing materials. Level 1 framing should be good for at least 35 years in normal conditions. However, pictures are rarely hung in ideal conditions (unless in a specialist regulated environment), so we recommend that you have the frame checked every five years or so by a professional framer or conservator.

The Fine Art Trade Guild recommends that you agree a ‘condition of artwork’ report on all works to be framed to Level 1 that are not brand new, prior to framing.

Appropriate remedial action on deteriorating artwork should be taken before reframing. We recommend that appropriately qualified conservators carry out this work for you prior to us carrying out the framing.

Note: Any existing labels should be preserved as this can provide provenance for the art.

LEVEL 2 (High Level) – This is the second highest specification

Why choose Level 2 framing?

Previously known as Conservation level, Level 2 framing gives a high level of protection for your artwork or objects, whilst looking good and enabling you to view your framed work to best effect. It should give virtually as high a level of protection as Level 1 framing and in many markets, for example the USA, no distinction is made between the two.

Works that are to be preserved for future generations, including objects, original artwork, limited edition prints of moderate to high value and other collectables should be framed to Level 2 (if not Level 1), where possible. Processes are intended to be fully reversible for up to 20 years, which means that the framed work can be returned to its former state, i.e. prior to framing, at any time, assuming that the artwork is not inherently unstable.

By using conservation quality materials and the best techniques, Seagull Gallery can give your work protection from physical and mechanical damage, airborne pollution and acids generated by many framing materials. Level 2 framing should be good for up to 20 years in normal conditions. However, pictures are rarely hung in ideal conditions (unless in a specialist regulated environment), so we recommend that you have the frame checked every five years or so by a professional framer.

The Fine Art Trade Guild recommends that you agree a ‘condition of artwork’ report on all works to be framed to Level 2 that are not brand new, prior to framing.

Appropriate remedial action on deteriorating artwork should be taken before reframing. We recommend that appropriately qualified conservators carry out this work for you prior to us carrying out the framing.

Good original frames should be retained wherever possible as these can enhance the value of the artwork. Frames can be replaced for display purposes, while the original is preserved in storage. Sometimes it is advantageous to retain an original windowmount (possibly gilded or decorated). A qualified framer will know how to do this and protect the artwork from damage this original windowmount could otherwise inflict on the artwork

Note: Any existing labels should be preserved as this can provide provenance for the art.

LEVEL 3 (Mid Level)

Why choose Level 3 framing?

Level 3 framing is suitable for replaceable artwork of limited commercial and/or moderate sentimental value and where visual appearance is important. Level 3 framing gives you a wider choice of mountboard colour options than Level 2. We would always recommend that you have items and artwork that you value framed with the best possible materials; this will help them give you pleasure for longer. Level 3 framing is not recommended for medium to high value limited edition prints or original or collectable artwork and items. These should be framed to Levels 1 or 2 ideally.

Level 3 framing should be good for 5 years in normal conditions, but this can be improved by requesting Level 2 quality of materials, such as mountboard, where you can afford it. We can have a chat about this in your consultation appointment.

The target lifetime assumes that artwork is not inherently unstable.

LEVEL 4 (Low Level)

Why choose Level 4 framing?

Level 4 framing is suitable for providing a basic frame at minimum cost. Price overrides the frame’s visual appearance and quality but it should still be well made with neatly joined corners. If there is a mount, this can be made from Level 4 mountboard, but it should be cleanly cut and should be free of blemishes. There is no requirement to provide any protection or visual enhancement of the artwork at this level.

Please note that many frames available on the market (particularly those not purchased from Guild recognised framers) fall well below the standard of the Guild’s minimum Level 4.

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