Tips for Framing Art for a Gallery Show

Written by Mark Rogers

Your work is unique. It only follows that the presentation should highlight your one-of-a-kind creations. Whether you’re entering a juried art competition, presenting your work to a gallery or simply desiring to showcase your work in its very best light at home or in your office, here are a few guidelines to consider.

Always Use the Best Materials

That’s advice from Gary Freeman of Online Art Center, who adds that neutral frames can help prevent work from appearing “amateurish, cheap or out of place.” Gallerists and jurists are concerned the presentation of your work enhances rather than distracts from the piece. That can mean framing your art in a neutral frame like black, gray or white. Or it could mean no frame at all, with the sides of your artwork painted a complementary color. Beyond the frame, Gary suggests, “Whenever possible use archival materials in making and presenting your artwork.”

New Trends with Classic Colors

Many times a simple, modern frame is the right call. Photography and paintings often look their best in sleek frames.

Our experience has been that black frames are the most traditional, particularly for photography such as the contemporary Profile 522 in matte black used by Frame Destination customer and Fine Art Photographer John Kennington for his framed prints. However, lately white frames are becoming more popular on gallery walls. John tells us Profile 792 and Profile 531 are two of his other favorite frames. Marshmallow White and Distressed White in those two profiles are quickly becoming the best sellers. Another trend setter is Professional Photographer, Jason Whitehead, who frames only in white and was originally inspired by Jason Lee’s work. Whitehead says this about how the frames showcase the art, “They’re crisp and clean. It takes the photography and dissects it - like the photograph is all by itself on the wall.”

Whatever the hue, wood frames lend warmth to your presentation, while metal frames can convey a lighter modern flair. The bottom line is this: you want the viewer to see and focus on the art, not the frame.

The Matter of Matting

Of course framing your work goes beyond the frame itself, and there are aesthetic reasons to consider adding a mat board. As the “frame within the frame,” matting draws in the viewer’s eye and helps create the mood and substance of your art. White mats can make a piece appear larger and lighter, while black mats can make it look smaller and denser. Practically speaking, mat boards help keep glass from scratching your work, and archival mats will help preserve your art for collectors to enjoy for many years to come.

Through the Looking Glass

The different types of frame glass available for your frame all serve to protect your art from dust and damage. Although archival glass isn’t necessary for everything you’ll ever frame, for your gallery work we recommend it. Our UV-Filter Glass protects art from harmful UV rays. For larger works, UV/Non-Glare is a nice lightweight option and less prone to breaking than glass. Optium Museum Acrylic® offers the same amazing visibility as Museum Glass but in acrylic and is perfect for valuable and sentimental art. Be sure and visit our glazing category for all of our picture frame glass.

Ready for Hang Time

When you bring your art to that much-admired gallery or enter that much-awaited show, make sure it’s ready to hang. Frame Destination has complete hanging kits for wood frames and for metal frames. (Sawtooth hangers aren’t strong enough to support your art safely.) We even have an easy way to mark just where the nail goes in the gallery wall. Oh, and if the gallery is in another city, check out our protective, reusable Gallery Pouch™ as you travel with your artwork.

Now that your art is ready for the world, take a moment to relax, breathe and enjoy the fruits of your artistic labor!

Last Updated October 17, 2023