Framing Your Art Prints

Published Date: February 11th, 2007
Category: Crafts, Home Improvement


Choosing the right frame and mat can greatly enhance the overall look of the art work and complement the decor of your room.

There are a few reasons for framing your art piece. Firstly, it prevents the art work from dust and dirt; it also prolongs and preserves the life of the art work, and prevents it from fading and sustaining damage over time. Aesthetically, a frame also makes the art work look more presentable, and helps to bring attention to the art work.

Framing is especially essential for reproduced prints and posters. When simply stuck on the wall without any framing protection, the print will start to tear on the edges and some of the color may also fade out within a short period of time.

When choosing a frame, avoid picking one that is the same color or tone as the wall the art work is to be hung on. For example, do not use a white or pastel colored frame for a white wall. Find a frame color that contrasts the color of the wall. For example, on a pastel colored wall, a dark frame color, like brown or black will do nicely. In my opinion, black or brown are the most popular choice colors for frames, but sometimes metallic colors like silver and gold do nicely as well, it all depends on the theme decor of your home. Never pick a loud color like red or yellow as the frame color. In my experience, these colors almost always never look good as frames. Unless you’re framing a picture of Mickey mouse in your child’s playroom, avoid these colors like the plaque.

On the other hand, also be careful not to pick a frame that takes attention away from the art piece itself! Remember, the artwork is the center of attention, not the frame. Find a frame that compliments the art, not compete with it. In any case, if you’re still unsure, always consult a qualified interior designer, artist or a framing specialist for advice on the best choice of frames to use.

The design of the frame should also match the surroundings, for example, a frame with a lot of intricate carvings may be pretty to look at, but may not be suited for the modern, contemporary home. Such frames would do well in a Victorian styled decor. If you’re finding a frame for a contemporary interior, you should choose one that’s simple and minimalist.

A framed art piece consists of several components, namely the art piece itself, the frame, the external glazed surface that is placed over the art work to protect it, and a mat. The frame itself is fairly straightforward. Most of them are made of wood, though there are some that are made of metal.

The clear protective glazing layer is made of either glass or acrylic. Acrylic, more commonly known as Plexiglas, is more recommend due to its lightweight and impact resistance. Higher quality acrylics may offer enhanced features like non-glare and UV protection, thus providing even greater protection for your art piece.

The mat is used for 2 main reasons; it serves as a support for the art work, to prevent the art piece from being damaged through bending and folding. It also helps to create a separation layer between the art work and the glazing so that the glazing is not directly “touching” the art piece, damaging it in the long run. Most framed art pieces come with a single mat layer, although you can choose to have double, even triple mat layers. Having triple mats would add extra depth to the art work.

When choosing a mat color, you might want to go with a neutral color, like whites, cream, ivory, sandstone, pearl, grays and blacks. Neutral mat colors not only take a back seat to help enhance and guide the viewer’s attention to the art work itself, it also can easily be fit into any room, without seeming out of place.

As a general rule, choose a color that is no lighter than the lightest color within your art piece, no darker than the darkest and no brighter than the brightest. This way the mat will not outshine the art work and steal the attention away from it. Light colored mats tend to make the picture seem larger and your perception more “open” or outward. Dark colored mats seem to turn your eye inward; creating a “tunneling” effect and making the picture seem smaller then normal.

Happy framing!

Copyright 2007 Edwin Mah

About The Author

Edwin is an art enthusiast and owner of Abstract Prints, an online gallery selling a wide range of abstract art prints, suitable for interior decoration of homes, offices, hotels and restaurants. Visit his website at

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