laura gardiner - tribeca printworks studio manager08/6/2023
by Laura Gardiner
Studio Manager, Tribeca Printworks

Photos and artwork deserve to be displayed in a frame that matches their aesthetic and fits the needs of their environment. But with so many frame options, how do you know which is right for your piece? As you choose from diverse styles and colors, you’ll need to consider different aspects of your artwork or photo, the display environment, and potential features or customization options. If a frame doesn’t seem quite right, you could also print your piece on canvas or raw aluminum.

Let’s take a close look at different frame options and how to choose the right picture frame for your piece.

Selecting Yocur Frame Style

A frame’s style can complement your artwork or photo. Three popular styles include:

  • Traditional frames: Traditional frames offer a sense of elegance and timelessness similar to what you’d find in the traditional style of decor. They may have interesting mouldings, shapes andac details. A traditional frame works well for upscale and formal pieces, including portraits and paintings. They also pair well with certificates and diplomas.
  • Modern frames: Modern frame designs are sleek and minimalistic, with clean lines and simple shapes. These frames don’t have any intricate details but can still make a dramatic impact. They’re a good choice for abstract art, contemporary portraits and black-and-white photos. Since they don’t steal the show, modern frames work well with more eclectic decor, too.
  • Ornate frames: An ornate frame is elaborate and decorative, with many details and extra elements. This style complements vintage or formal photos, classical artwork, and certificates or diplomas. It can add a subtle touch of luxury or vintage charm to a space.

Choosing a Material: Custom Wooden Frames

Although you can find frames in materials like plastic and metal, wooden frames are the gold standard for quality and versatility. With so many different wood varieties and production capabilities, you can find a wooden frame for virtually any style and aesthetic. They can accommodate intricate details and moulding for traditional or ornate styles, but they also offer the simplicity and clean lines needed for modern frames.

Regardless of how you use them, wood frames feel inviting and familiar.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Frame

Choosing a frame depends on many different factors, from the size and style of the piece you’re framing to the room decor and even the position of sunlight. Consider the following factors as you choose a frame for your photo or artwork.

Artwork and Photo Considerations

Think about how your frame will relate to the following aspects of your artwork or photo:

  • Style and theme: The content of your piece might pair best with a certain style of frame. For instance, a vintage photo looks right at home in an ornate frame, but some edgy architectural photography can really pop in a modern frame with bold lines. Harmonize your frame choice with your subject matter and the artistic style of the photo or artwork. You can also use your frame to contrast or complement the piece’s color and mood.
  • Size and proportions: Of course, your frame will need to fit your photo or art. Choose a frame based on your piece’s dimensions. Think about the visual balance that different sizes might offer. For example, a small, ornate frame might have many details crammed into a small space, so a photo with significant negative space could prevent the piece from feeling too cluttered. Look at the image’s focal points and spacing.
  • Conservation and protection: Keep your artwork or photo in good condition with the right materials. With an archival printing medium and ultraviolet-protective glass, you can protect your image against fading and damage over time.

Display Environment Factors

A frame’s environment will affect its appearance and performance. Consider the lighting conditions, including nearby sources of natural and artificial lighting. It can cause glare and fading, so look for a frame that works well with these lights and protects the art or photo.

Interior design and decor will also affect the appearance of the photo or artwork. Match your frame style and materials to the aesthetic of your space, and try coordinating them with existing furniture, color schemes and decorative elements.

Alternatives to Picture Frames

If a picture frame doesn’t sound right for your piece, consider printing it directly onto an aluminum sheet or a canvas. Both of these options offer exceptional quality and long-lasting materials.

canvas print stretches your image across a sheet of thick, taut fabric. Canvases offer dimension and raise your photo up off the wall. You can wrap your image around the sides of the canvas, reflect the image or keep the sides a solid color. This option works well for large prints, especially with our high-end Giclee prints that retain every detail.

To print on aluminum, we use dye sublimation to transfer your image. A high-definition aluminum photo print is a unique option for stylizing your piece. You can print on this brushed-metal medium with a white coating or a clear coating. The white coating is good for almost any kind of photo, while the clear coating allows the raw aluminum to show through on bright areas and makes high-contrast pieces pop. These moisture-, scratch- and ultraviolet-resistant prints work especially well for industrial and farmhouse styles.

Both of these are frameless options — although you can place both in a frame — creating a borderless effect for your image.

Additional Frame Features and Customization Options

While your choice of frame is important, you can drastically change the frame’s aesthetic features with these customizations.


Matting offers a frame within a frame. You can use a print that’s smaller than your frame and fill the space in between with a thick mat board. Choose from different colors, sizes and effects.

Mounting Options

To secure your image in the frame, you can use one of several techniques, including:

  • Floater framesA floating frame creates a slight gap between the frame and the artwork, often a canvas, to make it look like it’s floating.
  • Floating frame treatmentThis technique also aims to raise the image from the frame and make it “float,” but it does so by attaching the artwork to a mount board or an uncut mat board.
  • Traditional matting: Matting your image also offsets it from the frame and adds negative space.
  • Straight fit: In a straight fit, your image lines up exactly with the dimensions of the frame.
  • Shadowboxing:  A shadowbox has a small gap between the glass and your photo, adding dimension and clarity to the work.

Frame Finishes and Colors

Just like photos, frames can come in many different finishes and colors.

Wooden frames range from light, natural tones to deep and rich ones. A nice neutral or deep wood offers a warm, cozy and classic aesthetic, while a pale shade can provide more of an industrial or modern feeling. Black or white wood coloring works well in many styles, and a gray weathered shade is ideal for farmhouse decor. Opt for a matte or glossy finish to suit your aesthetics.

Try experimenting with your frame colors and finishes to find one that works well with your image. Sometimes a contrasting color can give you a nice pop, and sometimes tonal harmony can bring everything together. Consider your artwork or photo and where it’s going. If you aren’t sure what to do, our experienced team is always happy to help.

Design a Custom Frame Today

Between finding the right style, finish, color, matting and mounting options, finding an off-the-shelf frame that works well with your image can be difficult if not impossible. With a fully customized solution, you can explore different options and truly personalize your artwork or photo display. At Tribeca Printworks, we offer unparalleled framing customization. We also provide aluminum prints and professional-quality printing on paper and canvas with affordable prices and quick turnarounds.

Whether it will sit in a living room or a gallery wall, the right picture frame can transform and elevate the visual appeal of your image. Try our online print studio to start experimenting, or reach out to us for tips and suggestions!