How to Start a Business Framing Pictures

Custom framing can be a lucrative career choice

Woman looking at a photo that needs to be framed.

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Picture framing is one of those ideas for a home business that often begins as a part-time endeavor, but picture framing can grow into a full-time, successful business with the right combination of craftsmanship, customer relations, and advertising. By working with galleries, artists, photographers, and regular folks to showcase their work, picture framers are responsible for the public presentation of art.

Picture framing requires no formal training, but beginners pursuing ideas for home businesses are encouraged to take classes at a local art supply store or community college to hone their skills, such as learning about art dimensions and matting. The average wage is approximately $30,000 a year, but many independent picture framers find that the convenience of working out of their home in their own business can offset some income limitations. For many, making a modest salary out of a beloved hobby is well worth it. 


When you launch your own business framing photos, you give yourself an artistic outlet while earning money. It's also a very niche field with few professionals; when someone discovers your talent, they will spread the word, helping you get new clients. 

You provide an essential service to clients, framing their work or family memories and showcasing them beautifully. 


If you are running the business alone, the hours can add up; framing can take some time, particularly for unusual pieces.

Tools are often so expensive that startup costs can be prohibitive. For many, they already own the tools from their hobby, so it's a natural transition.

One of the biggest issues professional framers face is that customers will dispute the cost of your service once it's finished. Before beginning work, it's important to give the customer a detailed estimate and have them sign a document agreeing to the charges. 

What You Need to Get Started

  • Tools, including a sander, matte cutter, glass cutter, tape, clamps, saws, miter boxes, picture hangers, a stapler, and glue
  • A large workbench or table to layout your work efficiently
  • Room to store framed and unframed artwork, preferably temperature and humidity controlled to avoid damaging valuable artwork or photographs while they're in your possession
  • A price list, easily understood by customers in your shop or your advertising
  • Ads in print and online
  • Strong relationships with art-supply stores, galleries, and photographers to generate business
  • Space to display examples of your work as well as samples of frames and matting, or to make your picture framing home business truly portable, a roomy vehicle to bring samples to your customers' home or business

While home-based picture framing businesses can be costly to start and require long hours, it can be a rewarding career for artistic individuals who enjoy the work. It is one of those fields where a hobby can be expanded to provide a full-time income, allowing you to be an entrepreneur while exploring your creative side. While the income is limited, the freedom it provides often gives business owners more satisfaction than a higher salary.