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. However, lately our creative friends say that white frames are becoming more popular on gallery walls. Professional Photographer, Jason Whitehead, who frames only in white and was originally inspired by Jason Lee’s work, says this about white frames, “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 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 Acrylic is a nice lightweight option and less prone to breaking than 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 27, 2020

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2 thoughts on “Tips for Framing Art for a Gallery Show”

  • Kristen Colebank
    Kristen Colebank April 20, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    I've done several solo shows of my watercolors using your Profile 11 and Profile 2 metal sectional frames in matte black, and matted with a single archival-quality white mat. I've been complimented several times about this presentation, which is simple and lets the work speak for itself, while also adding a touch of the contemporary to medium that is thought of as very traditional. Thank you for making the presentation of my work so manageable!

    Reply
  • Jerry

    Would you think that your advice applies equally to art being sold in a consignment gallery? I have a 25 image series (photographs) that I am currently negotiating with a local gallery to sell on consignment. One of the issues we are discussing is uniform size vs size according to the individual image, and matt color to match a dominate color in each image vs uniform matt color.

    Reply
    • Laura W

      Hi Jerry - We would still offer the same advice. As far as sizing goes, it really depends on your clientele. If you feel like most of them are going to re-frame the art, you might consider standard sizes to make this easier. If you believe it looks better with individualized sizing and it would sell better this way, then that would make sense. As far as mats go, I would think the same way. A uniform mat color, like a neutral, might be easier to sell and to blend with the customer's existing home decor vs. narrowing it down with a specific color.

      Reply
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