How to Frame an Art Print

Framing an art print enhances its visual appeal while preserving it for years to come. By selecting the appropriate materials and following the correct techniques, you can ensure your art withstands the test of time. I’m no stranger to art prints, so I figured I’d share what I’ve learned over the years about framing them.

The Short Answer

On the surface, framing an art print is as simple as carefully sliding the print into the frame. Still, my personal recommendation is that you leave it to the professionals. If you do it yourself, it’s worth considering archival-quality materials to prevent degradation. You can also use acid-free tape and a mat to further extend the print’s lifespan.

Understanding the Basics of Framing Art Prints

At its core, framing serves a dual purpose: protecting art from environmental hazards like moisture, sunlight, and dust while enhancing the visual presentation to complement the work's aesthetic. Crucially, the materials used in framing, such as the mat board, frame, and glass, play a pivotal role in the longevity and preservation of the art.

You can prevent the yellowing or deterioration of the art over time by using archival-quality materials, thereby safeguarding the print against chemical damage. UV-protective glass or plexiglass can shield the art from fading due to light exposure. This meticulous selection of materials ensures the art print remains preserved in its original state, allowing it to be enjoyed by future generations.

Understanding the interaction between these materials and the art print is fundamental. Each choice, from the type of glass to the acidity of the mat board, influences the artwork's longevity and appearance. Thus, framing is not just about making the art look good in the present but ensuring it remains timeless.

Materials Needed for Framing

Framing an art print requires carefully selecting several critical materials. Essential items include

  • Frame: The foundation of your display, frames come in various sizes, styles, and materials. Choose one that complements both your art print and your decor.
  • Glass or Plexiglass: Protects the art from dust, moisture, and fingerprints. Consider UV-protective options to shield the art from sunlight.
  • Mat Board: An acid-free mat board enhances the visual appeal by providing a border and prevents the art from touching the glass, which can cause damage over time.
  • Precision Knife: This accurately cuts the mat board and ensures clean lines.
  • Artist Tape: Acid-free tape to secure the art print to the mat without damaging it.
  • Acrylic Spacers are optional and are used to create distance between the art and the glass, enhancing depth and protection.

Selecting high-quality archival materials is crucial for the longevity and preservation of your art print. Each component plays a role in the overall impact and safety of the framed piece.

To Mat or Not to Mat?

Mats serve to distance the art from the glass, promoting air circulation and preventing condensation, which can lead to mould or damage. Visually, mats can enhance the artwork by providing a border focusing on the piece.

When deciding whether to use a mat, consider the size and style of your print. Larger prints may benefit from a mat to create a visual break, making the artwork more digestible to the viewer. However, a mat might obscure valuable aspects of the artwork for smaller prints or those with intricate details close to the edge.

Ultimately, the decision to use a mat comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of the artwork. Consider both the aesthetic and preservation benefits when making your choice.

Choosing the Right Frame and Glass

The selection of the frame and glass (or plexiglass) is crucial in showcasing and preserving your art print. The frame should complement the artwork and align with your aesthetic and the decor of the space where it will be displayed. Consider the thickness of the frame as well, especially if you're using a mat, to ensure the art remains the focal point.

When it comes to glass versus plexiglass, each has its benefits and drawbacks. Glass offers a classic, clean look and is scratch-resistant but can be heavy and breakable. Plexiglass, on the other hand, is lightweight, shatter-resistant, and often comes with UV protection, making it an excellent choice for preserving artwork. However, it can scratch more easily than glass. Your decision should balance aesthetics, safety, and the artwork’s preservation needs.

Step-by-Step Framing Process

Framing an art print yourself involves several careful steps to ensure a beautiful and secure display:

  1. Prepare Your Workspace: Clean the area to avoid dust getting trapped in the frame. Lay out your materials.
  2. Measure and Cut the Mat (If Using One): If you've chosen to use a mat, measure your art print and the frame to determine the size of the mat opening. Use a precision knife for a clean cut.
  3. Mount the Art: Attach your art print to the mat using acid-free artist tape, applying it to the top edge of the print so it hangs freely. This prevents warping.
  4. Clean the Glass or Plexiglass: Before assembly, ensure the glass or plexiglass is free of fingerprints and dust.
  5. Assemble the Frame: Carefully place the mat and art print into the frame, followed by the glass or plexiglass. Add acrylic spacers if desired.
  6. Seal the Frame: Use framing points or small nails to secure the back and seal the frame. Add hanging hardware if it's not already attached.

With patience and attention to detail, you can achieve a professional-looking frame that both showcases and protects your art print.

Final Thoughts on Framing an Art Print Yourself

DIY framing allows you to personalize the presentation of your art prints, adding a unique touch while ensuring their preservation. Whether you’ve purchased an art print, or made your own, you can use this process and experiment with materials and layouts to find the perfect display for your space.