How to Frame an Artwork
When you think about framing art, it’s natural to start by considering your decor. Not so fast, the most common mistake we see is people choosing a frame to match their home, rather than to complement the art. If you choose something timeless, you only need to frame it once and you can move it from room to room, and decor style to style. And remember, the frame can make as much of an impact as the piece itself. Framing is a decorative art, even simple gallery frames yield an aesthetic.
Finding a Framer
A good framer will spend time getting to know your work of art and your tastes, and advise from there. They take into account the size of the work and the textures and movement in the piece to determine what brings out the most the art has to offer.
Keep It Simple
When in doubt, stick with something that doesn’t overwhelm the artwork. A large majority of designers use a white, black, or natural wood gallery frame so as to not take away from their art visually. REMEMBER: The simpler the frame, the more easily it can adapt to changes in a room’s decor.
Our general rule of thumb is the smaller the work, the larger the mat, and vice versa. For small art pieces or personal photos, for instance, we likes mats larger than two- to three-inches; for pieces 16 by 20 inches and up, we recommend a two- to three-inch mat—or none at all. Works that will be hung in groups are better off with minimal or no matting. And stick with white or cream, colored mats have a tendency to look dated after just a few years. That said, mats can still have subtle, elegant details.
Consider an Antique
There are times when a contemporary work can get an old-world frame, and when an old-world work might call for a modernist or contemporary frame. Conversely, consider choosing a frame from the same era as the artwork. Historic precedent is an excellent teacher—any major museum can reveal framing secrets.
The Difference is in the details
A framing professional will perfect the particulars, from ensuring the corners are a true 90 degrees to floating the work on the mat board so it doesn’t touch the glass. Pay close attention to the quality of the frame, especially if it’s wood with an antique finish: There is a fine line between too distressed, resulting in an overly rustic look, and not distressed enough, resulting in an overly shiny and cheap look. And depending on your piece and budget, you may want to explore museum-quality mats and glass for optimum conservation.