Whether you want to find a cheap way to frame a print and save money or leave it to a pro, there are a few things you should know first. As an artist I am often asked about how to frame artwork. Everyone has their own taste and preference. Ornate or minimalist? Metal or wood? Light or dark? Thick or thin? All of these choices are wonderful! But they also make it a risky (and costly) thing for an artist who chooses to include frames along with their work.
For years now I have chosen to paint on gallery-wrapped canvas. This style of canvas continues around the edges of it’s frame. Staples are not visible on the sides, but on the back, and the canvas covered edges can be painted. I like to continue my painting around the sides but they can also be painted a solid color. Take a look at my originals for some examples. Although a frame is unnecessary, there are situations when a frame is a great idea:
- the design space calls for a more formal display
- when you want the artwork to fill up more space in it’s setting
- a visual break is needed between the painting and the wall it is displayed on (ie: close in color and blends together)
Paper and Canvas are the most common types of prints. These prints pictured here are available in both and which kind you choose will determine the best framing option. I strongly recommend using a professional framer and supporting local businesses whenever possible. Chain stores offer a wide variety of custom frames as well as “ready-mades”. Don’t forget coupons! They are often available online or in the weekly ads. Ask your local framer if they’ll accept competitors coupons too.
Paper prints should be framed under glass. A mat gives a complete and polished look but they aren’t always necessary. The addition of a mat is also a way to increase the size of your print. For example, a 9×12 print with a 1″ margin fits perfectly in a 9×12 store bought frame. But you can take the same 9×12 print to a framer and ask them to cut a mat for it to fit a larger frame, whatever size you wish. There are mats in any color or texture you can imagine. (I love a great linen!)
DIY or Pro?
What is the most cost effective way to frame a paper print? Find a ready-made frame. I would suggest you take the print with you to the store and see if you can find one you love off the rack that fits your print. Don’t worry if you don’t, just find the next size up and have a mat custom cut. Of course you will have MANY more options if you have a framer build a frame for you. They usually have great suggestions too!
With the introduction of giclee’ printing and all the technological improvements, canvas prints have come a long way. As can be expected, the increase in demand there has meant an increase in suppliers and range of quality. Some less expensive “canvas” prints are on cheaper fabrics and have a more slick or plastic feel to the touch. They can crack around the edges and may not last as long. I will only offer the best quality I can find but just be aware when looking elsewhere.
To stretch or not to stretch?
Canvas prints can be ordered in a number of ways and are quite popular because they most closely resemble the texture and appearance of an original painting. Typically you will see them in two forms. Un-stretched (“flat”) or stretched (“wrapped”). Stretched has a large appeal because they are ready to hang. Remember my description of the gallery wrapped canvas I paint on? Stretched canvas prints are similar in appearance. “Stretcher bars” are used to pull the canvas tight and then it is hand stapled in place all around the perimeter. This can be labor intensive and it is best done by a professional framer. Un-stretched canvas can be framed under glass like paper or you could have them mounted by a framer and inserted into a frame. (See “DIY or Pro?” above in the paper prints section. The same applies to un-stretched canvas.) Either way, all will have fantastic results! Click here to see my short video featuring an un-stretched canvas.
If you prefer to DIY, shop online, don’t have access to a local framer or chain craft store, here are a few online options for great frame selections that won’t break the bank.
These prints shown here were created as part of a collaboration with Natalie of My Vintage Porch. She is a fantastic blogger and I have long enjoyed her stories on instagram. And she is hilarious! She now has the original, and we planned all along to share this painting as a print. You can watch a short little video taken when I was painting here and prints are now available and can be found here in my online shop.
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I hope this information was helpful for you! If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.