To Frame or Not to Frame

“Should I frame my work?”

Just like with art, framing art is subjective. While there aren’t set rules on framing your artwork, it is important not to let it become an afterthought. The way you display your artwork has an overall effect on both its value and its aesthetic. So how do you decide what is best for your piece?

Here are some tips including different types of frames, hanging your work, plus other factors to help you arrive at a decision that works for you.

Different types of frames

Framing with a mat: If you go this route, you usually just want a simple frame with a mat that adds visual space between artwork and the edge of the frame. Keep the frame smaller in width than that of the mat. Make sure that it has a very classy and clean aesthetic. This works great for flat artwork done on paper such as photography, pencil, pen, and watercolor artwork.

Gallery Wrap and Floating Frames: Whether you use one these or not will depend on the types of materials you’ve used. This depends on the types of canvas, fabric, linen, or other stretchable materials. Pay attention to the varying thickness of the sides. This can be displayed as is or used as a floating frame.

Wood, Metal, and Glass: There are various styles these materials can come in including simple, elegant, or vintage. Different aspects of these that you want to pay attention to include thickness, weight, whether it is glass or plexiglass and whether or not it is reflective or nonreflective.

Hanging your work

Wires: Once your artwork is ready to hang, try using a wire and avoid anything toothed. Make sure the wiring can safely support the weight of both the artwork and frame.

For a Gallery Wrap with Painted Edges: Oils, acrylics, and similar art done on gallery wrapped canvas can be displayed as is. Most prefer to have the edges painted while keeping staples in the back.

Other factors to consider

Use neutral colors: If you’re going with a mat or a frame, avoid bold colors as well as anything bright. When in doubt, opt for an off-white. Keep in mind that frames and mats may play a part in a collector’s decision to purchase art based on their existing décor.

Using Glass and Acrylic: Photography, drawings, and other artwork is done on a flat surface are usually preferred to be framed and behind glass. If you go with this option, use a museum quality and non-yellowing plexiglass.

Foam Core: Foam core can be used as backing for flat artwork such as photographs, or done on a paper-like material. This will then be added to the frame.

Dust Cover Backing: These can be used for gallery wraps to allow the canvas to breathe.

It isn’t always necessary to frame your artwork. Some collectors prefer to frame themselves while others like art to be framed and ready to go. It’s subjective based on your collector or gallery and it pays to do your research.

If you do decide to add a frame, it’s important to think of it as part of your work. Try using something that is hand designed and non-traditional. Avoid anything that would distract from the work itself.

Finally, if you do purchase a frame for your artwork, don’t forget to add both the cost of it and the time it took you to frame it to your total asking price.


Framing Resources


Online Frame Stores

Level Frames

American Frame

London Art and Framing


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