The secret recipe to art framing

...1 of 2 part digest on why framing right matters

As important as investing in the right art is, knowing all there is to know about the frames they come with is just as important.

To some collectors, framing is pretty personal, and rightfully so. A good frame can lift up or completely floor a painting, no matter how expensive it is. Beyond collecting tasteful art, the display of it begins with the type of frames used. It is equally a reflection of the collector’s taste, style, and personality.

Frames act as compasses to help the audience focus on fully appreciating the art. Art consultants and advisors would typically recommend that when artists and curators are working towards a show, the body of works to be displayed should be framed. This is because it enhances their appeal. The same recommendation also applies to collectors. As a collector, it is important to know that you do not have to use the default frame that a piece of art you purchased came with. You have the liberty to change it because the default gallery frames may not suit your style, taste, or the ambience of the display area.

Things to consider

In choosing the right frame for your paintings, here are a few considerations to bear in mind:

The medium

The type of frame to use will be dictated by the art medium. To illustrate, the choice of frames used on a paper print or sketch work would most certainly differ from that of an oil or acrylic on canvas work. Paper prints require acid-free mounting boards, such as cardboard, as well as UV-protective glass.

Quality of materials used

A wide variety of materials, including wood, ceramics, metal, plastic, etc., are used to create frames. A subpar frame may allow mildew to develop inside the cracks, harming the artwork. Paintings with poor framing are obvious at first glance and will spoil the audience’s enjoyment. While aesthetic appeal is great, collectors, artists, and framers should consider the long-term wear and tear value when choosing materials to make the frames.

Image 1: An example of a bad quality frame

Complementary effects

Frames complement rather than detract from the artwork. Flamboyant frames will effortlessly become the focal point, which is why they are advised against. Frames should not sway the audience away from the art itself. Frames can be contrasting in colour, yet subtle in design. For example, dark frames on neutral-toned paintings often enhance and set your artwork apart from everything else in the room.

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Contrast effects

What contradicts point 3 above is that contrasting frame designs can be effective. For example, it might be good to use a picture frame that matches the design of the artwork. It makes sense to pair a classic frame with a classic piece of art, or a more modern frame with contemporary art.

Why it Matters

There are a wealth of benefits to framing your paintings. A bad frame can damage the painting, and as we have read, this goes beyond just the visual appeal.


Frames have a way of enhancing the beauty and splendour of artworks. Consider the artwork below. There is a noticeable difference between how enhanced it appears after it was framed.

Art framing
Image 2: Before framing vs After framing – Artist: Dag | Title: Melanin goddess | Medium: Mixed media on canvas | Dimensions: 4ft x 3.5ft

Protection from damage

Art is an investment, thus it only makes sense to safeguard such a priceless possession from adverse environmental factors, everyday wear and tear, and the negligence of others.

Personal taste

Framing an artwork allows you to express your personal taste and style in the final product’s display. The right frames will help you blend your art piece(s) into the theme of the room in which it is displayed.

When it comes to the final product display, frames are just as important as the art itself. A word of caution: a frame that is cheaply made can be made to look pretty. Arming yourself with this useful information is key to understanding the first steps in art framing.

In the second part of this digest, we will consider how you can choose the right frame and how to safeguard it.

Until the next digest,

poorly framed artworks cheapen their value.

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