Tips for Framing Art for a Gallery

laura gardiner - tribeca printworks studio manager06/1/2023
by Laura Gardiner
Studio Manager, Tribeca Printworks

Using the right frame for your artwork can add elevated visual elements and helps protect it from outside elements. To showcase your piece best, consider its style and medium, different framing techniques and the space where you’ll display it. As a result, you can enhance the overall look of your art with the perfect art gallery frame.

Explore our tips on how to frame art professionally below and see how Tribeca Printworks can help you create custom frames.

How to Frame Artwork for an Exhibition

Choosing the right frame presents the art well without overpowering it — frames that are more eye-catching than your art can be distracting. Your frame should provide the perfect finishing touch to display your artwork boldly and effectively.

There are various materials to choose from for your artwork’s frame. The wood grains of wooden frames add natural uniqueness. A contemporary painted white or black wooden frame with a matte finish provides a sleek look. Consider a sophisticated wood frame with a gesso finish for vintage artwork.

A display style that complements your artwork is essential. With so many options, knowing what makes each unique is important. Here are a few types of museum-quality frames to consider:

  • Gallery frame: If you’re displaying your art in a gallery, you may want to choose a gallery frame. Gallery framing uses matting to create an elegant frame-in-frame finish. These frames’ sleek appearance makes them the style of choice for exhibitions and museum photography displays.
  • Straight fit frame: This style involves framing your artwork without matting. The frame acts as a border around the art, only overlapping it with a thin lip. Pieces featuring a lot of white space look great in this style.
  • Floating frame: With this kind of frame, the print sits on top of the matting to create a subtle yet dramatic effect.
  • Shadow box frame: This deep frame can display traditional artwork, three-dimensional items or textured art pieces. This kind of frame is hollow, so when you place your artwork on the back, the frame creates a shadow effect.

Before you decide on the style of your frame, consider the gallery space. If the room is modern, you may want to choose a sleek matte black painted frame to create a contemporary feel. An ornate, wooden frame is often best suited to a more traditional gallery space. That said, you can always choose framing that differs from the norm if you so choose.

Black, white and brown are excellent choices for frame colors. These neutral colors work well with almost any type of art. However, you can also choose a frame that adds a pop of color. Using a frame that highlights a specific color in your artwork helps to capture the eye and create a sense of continuity. Our custom-made frames ensure a precise fit with a look that matches your requirements.

Using Matting for Your Artwork

If you want to draw attention to your art, matting helps to highlight and separate your piece from the frame. Matting is a piece of board that creates a window surrounding the art inside the frame.

This effect enhances the visual appeal of the artwork while providing protection. When used in a frame, matting creates distance between the artwork and the frame’s glass. This distance allows air to circulate and stops moisture from building up. Matting also prevents the art from sticking to the glass.

Matting is an excellent option for artwork on paper, photographs, watercolors and drawings. Galleries and museums often use this technique to conserve valuable pieces and protect artwork that’s frequently handled for research or display.

When it comes to choosing the size of your matting, it often depends on your creative expression. For the best effect, it’s wise to choose a mat board size at least twice your frame’s width. Using double or triple mats can add depth to your piece. This tiered effect acts like a tunnel that draws attention to the artwork.

You can accentuate your artwork even more by adding matting with color. The color you choose should complement your artwork without overpowering it.

There are a variety of methods you can use to secure your artwork to the mat board:

  • Mounting corners: This non-adhesive method uses archival, pressure-sensitive, clear mounting corners to fasten smaller art. These acid-free mounting corners are usually made from paper or polyester, allowing art to contract and expand naturally.
  • Edge strips: These strips allow for archival mounting without adhesive. They provide support along the edges of the entire length of the piece.
  • Paper hinges: There’s a variety of hinges that suit different pieces. Note that hinging can introduce moisture, so it’s wise to consult a professional with conservation experience when using this framing option.
  • Mylar: This method uses sheet polyester to mount art to matting.

Mounting Techniques for Your Artwork

Aside from matting, there are a few other ways to mount your artwork.

Float mounting is where the artwork sits on top of the mat board instead of behind it. By elevating your art, this technique allows it to shine and show off all the details. The piece is fastened to the mat board using tape to keep it from shifting.

Floating requires spacers to create space between the art and the frame’s glass. Strips of wood or matting sit behind the rabbet of the frame to create a gap. You can also use thick spacers to create a more profound gap for a box frame look. Float mounting is an excellent technique for pieces with a lot of detail or texture on the edges you want to showcase.

Tile floating is similar to traditional float mounting but uses a tile of mat board smaller than the artwork on all sides. The tile raises the art off the backing to create a shadow effect around the edge of the piece. You can lift the piece off the back as much as you would like — the higher the rise, there more significant the dramatic shadow effect.

Glazing and Protection for Your Artwork

Glazing is an effective way to protect your artwork. There are two options when it comes to glazing — glass or acrylic. Glazing uses a transparent sheet that protects the art from environmental factors such as dust, pollution and harmful ultraviolet (UV) light.

Museum glass offers more protection than standard glass but can require additional support, especially for large pieces of artwork. Acrylic glazing offers lightweight protection that is easier to move. Acrylic glazing is also available in various standards of UV protection. The advantage of using acrylic is that it is less fragile than glass.

A clear finish is the best option for glazing because it allows you to see the artwork more clearly. If your art piece is on display near a window, be sure to choose non-glare acrylic to diffuse sunlight and make your artwork easier to view.

Work With Tribeca Printworks for Your Gallery Art Framing Needs

Choosing the right frame for your artwork enhances and elevates your piece. While endless options are available, you can narrow down your choices by considering the style of your work, your budget and the gallery space where you’ll display your artwork.

As a fine art exhibition and museum printer and framer, Tribeca Printworks offers a variety of museum-quality frame options to complement your artwork. Whether you want to create a classic finish or make a bold statement, we provide some of the best gallery wall frames for your art. No matter your needs, we can help you find the perfect gallery art frames for your next exhibition or art show.

To order your custom frame, contact us today.