Choosing the perfect picture frame for your new favorite artwork is no easy feat! Sometimes we think we know what we want, but we don’t actually know what we need until we find it. That’s what happened when I walked in Artifice Encadrement (see complete info at the bottom) to find the right mounting for my oversized paper artwork from one of my favorite artists- Stikki Peaches (you can read his story here). At first, it can be a little intimidating when you walk in a professional framing store. Unless you have a lot of experience, the thousands of frame demos around you make it difficult to know where to start…
Luckily, Sophie Clerk, the experienced owner of over 25 years is friendly and helpful from beginning to end! It can take a long time to make the best choices, and she was there to guide and consult me through the entire process. When you decide to frame an art piece, it is an investment of time and money and should be done with care and attention.
About the artwork. Stikki Peaches creates work on many different surfaces including canvas, paper, and sometimes, other objects. In this case, we have an original silk screen print which has its own unique markings. This means that even though it is a print – it is entirely one of a kind. The size of the print (52 by 42 inches) makes it difficult to frame because it is considered “oversized” by picture framing professionals. Oversized means it is larger than 32 by 40 inches. The consequences are that the conventional materials needed are more expensive but also, we are limited in our choices of cardboard mats and need to assure that our frame is solid enough to support the weight of the glazing we will be putting on to protect it. A paper artwork is more fragile than canvas and should be glassed to avoid tearing, stains and light damage.
Choosing the frame. When I walked in, I thought I wanted a neon turquoise or pink frame to match the colors in my art piece. After looking at the colored frames, though, I soon realized that when the color doesn’t match the artwork perfectly- it just doesn’t seem right. I then started to look at black frames. A glossy textured black wooden frame was up first. It had a baroque style and appeared to be the next best option to color to create a unique, bold look. However, I quickly felt it was “too much” considering the size of the piece.
I started looking at other black frames that I liked but felt that using black was a little too expected? Next, Sophie and I began to experiment with frames in shades of gray. I loved it. The subtle matching to the print color looked sophisticated and edgy. We played around with a variety of textures and widths, and soon, we had over 25 demo frames around the piece… This was when we decided we needed to eliminate some.
We had just a few frames left, and suddenly, Sophie tells me that one of the ones I loved had a gold version that she wanted to show me. Gold ? Really ? Well when she showed it to me, I noticed the richness of the color that had a little more funk than other traditional gold frames in the store. A little unexpected at first but I kept it in my selections. I decided it was time to start exploring the store all over again with this new discovery….
Two hours go by, and I am left with 5 choices. Two of them are the same frame but different colors with a “beaded” design. Sophie mentions that it seems to capture the clothes of the character in the artwork. Wow – she is good! I didn’t notice but, of course, she was right. The little details seemed to make the difference because it was both our favorite. I kept other options for pricing, but frankly, I had already made my choice…
I loved how the gold beaded frame brought out some traditional aspects of my piece but added some real FUNK with the contrast in styles. It was classic and edgy and felt right. Somehow, maybe knowing the artist personally helped me in my selection but it was definitely not fast or easy. Patience, creativity and the experience of Sophie were all key elements of my great choice.
When you buy an original artwork – it’s a whole process. Choosing the right mounting and then finding the right place to put it in your home are also important elements. An artwork is not just a product you buy to fill your walls – it becomes a permanent influence in your daily life. The feelings and energy it creates will continuously affect you and your guests. The process of art collecting is a very personal one that can bring great joys to your overall wellbeing.
If you are going to get a custom picture frame – better do it right! In the end, I chose something unexpected at first but I believe will be timeless. Total cost: $899 which includes the custom wooden frame, glass, labor and mounting pieces. It will also help preserve my art “forever”!
Here are our 5 main important tips on picture framing.
1. Be creative. Walk in with an open mind! You might think you know what you want but often, the more you try different options, the better your final choice will be.
- Mixing up styles. The contrast between more traditional looking frames with modern pieces is a new trend we love which we opted for today. Classic frames have a “je ne sais quote” we can’t get enough of!
- Combining frames. Another fun option is to use two different smaller frames together. Depending on the combination, it can be really unique!
- Metal or wood? Today we only looked at frames made of wood, but the option of using metal frames can be another fine choice. It is simpler in style, but If you are framing an original photograph, it can be exactly what you want. It gives a clean and sharp look.
- Floating frame. For canvas, especially smaller ones, the “floater frame” technique can be used. There is a “gap” between the canvas and frame which gives a really nice effect.
2. Passe-partout aka mats. Do you need one or not? Either way, I would definitely recommend you take the time to figure out if it is the right thing for your piece. There are hundreds of colors available that can accentuate colors in the artwork or simply add visual dimension. You can choose it before or after the frame or at the same time. Having everything out on the table and playing around with your options if your best bet on visualizing the finished look. Remember to make sure you are getting an acid-free mat to avoid any long term damage. Most framing professional only offer this option, but it is important to confirm.
Personally, I did not get one for my oversized piece but here are some examples of beautiful ways of doing so.
3. Picture Framing Glass aka Glazing. There are many options of glazing and many technical details involved that we will not go over here. Here are the basics you should know. The objective of glazing is to physically protect the artwork when it’s on display.
- Anti-Glare. As a basis, any artwork that has a lot of details that is average size or smaller should have anti-glare glass. This will ensure that the viewer will see everything they should in the artwork instead of the distracting glaring effect from light. For bigger pieces that have a big theme – it can be skipped as the viewer won’t be as affected.
- UV Protection. This is used to protect the artwork from sun damage in direct light in the long term. Your piece will deteriorate faster if it is exposed to too much sunlight. The colors will tarnish, and the paper will turn yellow. It is recommended to invest in this protection especially if you plan to put it close to a window.
- Plexiglass or acrylic. You can also glaze your artwork with plexiglass (acrylic). It is a much lighter option. However, it scratches very easily and often more expensive.
- Museum quality glass. Finally, museum quality glazing is the top of the line glazing as you can guess. It will be the best quality for viewing (anti-glare) and for protection (UV and other). Of course, the price in line with this level of standard!
4. Cheaper options? Sure, you can get a standard sized frame to fit your piece but keep in mind that “cheap” has consequences. Most likely the frame will be plastic which makes it difficult to fix. Of course, they also tend to break easily. The mats or backboard papers that are used could affect your artwork negatively if they are not acid-free materials (they will most likely not be). The quality of the glazing is also probably low. Perhaps this could be used for a temporary solution. However, if you cared enough to invest in your original artwork – it is wise to pay for a custom professional picture frame.
5. Pre-mounted artwork. Finally – if you are lucky enough to find a piece of artwork that is already mounted, do not be shy to ask questions. Make sure the framing was done with care and understand what you are buying. You can also ask the galleries if the artwork is available without the mounting. This usually means they would give you a better price but would also say that you need to frame it yourself. Usually, it is at your cost advantage to buying it with the frame. However, it can be interesting to choose your own mounting. Galleries will often keep the look neutral and be appealing to all. Bear in mind that not all the artwork of an artist is on display in a gallery and that the prices you see, usually includes the frame. If you want to get a better idea of the price of the artwork, make sure to ask about it.
Artifice Encadrement is location at 190 Peel, Montreal. It has a free parking lot for its clients which is really convenient (and rare)! For more information visit their website here. Ask for Sophie and for the Jano Lapin discount…you’re welcome. 🙂
Founder & Creative Director. Passionate about the city of Montreal, discovering its various cultural components as well as exploring foreign places. I am inspired by telling stories of artists, innovative concepts, philanthropy, creative encounters and cultural events.