Now that you’ve been collecting awhile, here’s some tips for the future:
Taking care of your art
First of all, how are you going to store your pieces? If they are unframed, you want to protect them. For drawings, keeping them in mylar sleeves is a very good idea. The sleeves protect your art from bending, spills (!), and all sorts of hazards. Set aside some space to keep them all together. Ideally a cabinet or special acid-free storage boxes do the trick. Be careful not to stack too many cels on top of one another, or you risk undue pressure cracking your paint. For cels, mylars work well also, but have acid-free tissue against the back (paint-side) as to prevent the cel from sticking to the mylar. Having the cels stored within mattes is also a plan as when you stack them, the weight is not on the art, but on the mattes. You may also invest in an art portfolio with the pages inside.
However, do remember to remove any acidic paper that is inside, or do put your pieces in mylars. If any dust accumulates on a piece, using dust-off very carefully can do the trick, but even smarter is to keep the art protected in the first place to prevent the dust from ever accumulating at all. If there is some dirt or old tape,etc. on your cel, a cotton swab in a little bit of rubbing alcohol will work wonders. Do not overuse, and do not get anywhere near the paint and/or linework. If in doubt, get the piece to your restorer.
Framing your pieces is obviously the optimal way to enjoy them. Choose a framer carefully. You don’t want to spend thousands of pounds on your art to lose it all because you were too cheap to drop a few bob in for framing. Framing will probably run around £50-£150. There are differing opinions as to glass, plexiglass, and den glass (otherwise known as museum glass). I prefer glass for all pieces under £1300 (US$2000). Glass looks more polished than plexi which I think can look cheap. Glass is also the least expensive option of the three. Plexiglass is used to lighten the weight of a piece, and some collectors favour it to glass as it won’t shatter if dropped. I don’t go around dropping art, so that has never been a big concern for me. Also, plexi can build a type of static force between the cel and itself and can cause the cel to move towards it and that can damage your piece by creating unnecessary tension. Den glass I recommend for higher end pieces. It filters out a lot of the sun’s rays, and does not reflect as much, thus giving you a better view of your piece from all angles. I use den glass a lot for my personal pieces. It can wack on an extra £50 which I think is worth it for £1300+ pieces.
Where to display
Display your pieces much as you would any other valuable art. Make sure that you keep your pieces away from extreme or fluctuating temperatures. Sunlight is also to be avoided. Keep your pieces away from: bathrooms, windows, fireplaces, radiators,air conditioners (do you have a need for those in the UK? 🙂 ), etc. I would use at least two hooks separated somewhat so that you can adjust the frame without it tilting. Also protects in case one hook becomes faulty. Store framed, unhung art wrapped in bubble wrap, and stacked vertically. If you do not have your framed pieces protected, store them verticle face to face, and back to back to avoid any nicks caused by framing hardware.
Acid-free is the place to be. Most important for drawings where being next to an acidic mat may cause a “burn” which is a brown area wherever the acidic material touches the paper. Cels seem to be tougher. If you have any master backgrounds in old frames that you are keeping for the vintage touch, I recommend you replace them immediately. You don’t want to risk ruining your valuable piece. In terms of style, it is up to you. If your looking for a simple look, pick one or two undermattes that have colours that match colours in the piece, then a “neutral” top mat.
Neutral means white, or off-white or greyish depending on the tonality of the piece. Fling on a black metalic frame, and you’re home free. Feeling a little more daring? Try coloured top mats- suede mattes are particularly rich in colour. I use suede mattes all the time for my personal collection. Try zany frames. Frames can be multi-coloured, or beautifully textured with leaf carvings, daisy patterns, etc. Try cut-outs. Cut-outs are areas of the top-mat which are removed to show the colour underneath. Usually a simple shape like a diamond is best. Panelling is another option. The framer cuts a very thin area into the top mat to reveal the colour underneath. Usually in a rectangular pattern. Try a fillet. Fillets are frame-type materials that are very thin, and are used to surround the visual area of the piece right next to the mat. Matching the fillet to the larger frame can be quite stunning. I use this type of technique for mega-pieces. Some vintage drawings look nice with a gold fillet, neutral top mat, and matching gold frame. I also love for bold pieces a gold fillet, richly coloured suede matte, and gold frame. It’s up to you.
Pieces in less than ideal condition
I hesitate to use the term damage to any piece that can be repaired. For cels, paint that is cracked can be restored. That means that a professional restorer either rewets the paint and fills in missing areas, or removes the craking paint and replaces it with new paint that keeps the same appearance. Choose restorers carefully. A piece in poor condition restored well will increase in value, a piece that is not restored well (poor colour choices, point paint materials, etc.) will decrease the value of a cel. In the marketplace, restored cels seem to command the same price as original painted ones even though I would have thought that the original paint would command a premium. I do know that some collectors will not buy restored pieces, but in my experience it seems as though most collectors do not mind. If your cel has a tear or cracking which does not affect the image, a restorer can trim the cel to outline (think Courvoisiers), and reapply to a new full sheet of acetate. I do not know of any help for a cel that has cracking to the actual image area. Drawings are a little trickier. I have never had a drawing be restored, but I do know that paper restorers do exist. Even though animation drawings are less expensive to collect, they do cost more to restore.
At the end of the day, try to keep your art as safe and in as steady conditions as possible. But be happy that if problems do occur, then there are some solutions available