The Finishing Touch:
The Art of Framing
A recent conversation with my local framer helped me realise how important the frame was to my artwork and my framing choice can really elevate a piece of work.
In this guide, I’ll explore the art of framing and how to choose the perfect frame for your own artwork or art for your home. From traditional wooden frames to modern metal frames, I’ll discuss the various types of frames available and their characteristics. I’ll also talk about famous masterpieces and their frames and how one frame literally destroyed the work inside it and became a whole new thing.
As an artist and printmaker I am often advising on framing my artwork for customers. It’s a job I enjoy doing as when it comes to displaying and preserving art, I feel the framing is just as important as the artwork itself. The right frame can complement the style and subject matter of the piece, enhance its overall aesthetic, and of course protect it from damage. On the other hand, an ill-suited frame can detract from the artwork and make it look out of place. It’s a daunting choice which has inspired this article.
Why is framing your artwork so important?
Aesthetics is another key reason why framing artwork is so important. A frame can complement the style and subject matter of the art, and can also help to draw attention to the piece and make it stand out. The frame can also help to create a cohesive look, whether in a gallery or a home setting. The frame can also help to focus the viewer’s attention on the art.
Framing artwork is an essential step in the process of displaying and preserving art. The right frame can greatly enhance the overall look and feel of a piece, while also protecting it from damage.
One of the main reasons why framing artwork is so important is that it can protect the art from dust, dirt, and other environmental factors.
A frame can also protect the art from physical damage, such as scratches, tears, and fading. This is particularly important for works on paper, such as drawings, prints, and photographs, which are more delicate and susceptible to damage than paintings.
Framing artwork can also help to preserve the art for a long time. Framing materials, such as acid-free matting, UV-protective glass, and other conservation methods, can help to prevent damage and deterioration of the artwork.
How the CHOICE OF FRAMING Can Elevate Your Artwork and Enhance the Experience
The style of a frame can greatly influence how the artwork is perceived and understood. Choosing the right style of frame can help to complement the style and subject matter of the art and enhance its overall aesthetic.
Here are a few ways that the style of frame can help the artwork:
Traditional Wooden Frames
Traditional wooden frames can add a classic, timeless look to traditional, representational artwork such as oil paintings.
Modern Metal Frames
Sleek, modern metal frames can work well with contemporary art and can create a minimalist look that emphasises the artwork.
Ornate, decorative frames can add a sense of elegance and grandeur to formal, traditional art.
Distressed, rustic frames can give a piece of art a vintage or old-world feel.
Custom or speciality frames, as per the art, can be designed to match the specific aesthetic of the piece and to create a unique and harmonious look.
It is important to note that the style of frame should be chosen to match the style of the artwork, not to overpower it. The frame should enhance the artwork, not detract from it. It is also important to think about the context in which the artwork will be displayed, whether it will be hung in a gallery, a home, an office or any other place.
Off-the-shelf frames or custom frames
Off-the-shelf frames, are pre-made frames that are widely available and can be found at many retail stores and online shops. These frames come in a wide range of sizes, styles and finishes, and can be a more affordable option for those on a budget.
Custom frames, on the other hand, are frames that are made to order and are tailored to specific pieces of art. These frames are designed to suit the specific needs of the artwork, taking into account its size, style, and subject matter. These frames are typically made by a professional framer who will take measurements of the artwork and create a frame that is unique to that piece -making it more exclusive and increasing it’s perceived value.
The choice between cheap frames and custom frames depends on one’s personal preference and budget. To help you decide I have put together the pros and cons of each option below;
Off-the-shelf Framing: Pros & Cons
- Affordability: Off-the-shelf frames are widely available, and are generally more affordable than custom frames. They are a great option for those on a budget, or for those who need to frame a large number of pieces.
- Variety: Off-the-shelf frames come in a wide range of sizes, styles, and finishes, which makes it easy to find a frame that matches the aesthetic of the artwork.
- Convenience: Off-the-shelf frames are widely available, and can be easily found at retail stores and online shops. They are easy to purchase and easy to exchange or return if need be.
- Limited Customization: Off-the-shelf frames are pre-made and are not tailored to the specific needs of the artwork. They may not always be the best fit for the piece and may not offer the same level of protection and preservation as a custom frame.
- Quality: Off-the-shelf frames may not be of the same quality as custom frames, they may not have the same level of durability and protection.
- Limited options: Off-the-shelf frames may be limited in terms of design and customization options, if you are looking for something specific and unique, it might be difficult to find it amongst the pre-made frames.
Custom Framing: Pros & Cons
- Tailored to the artwork: Custom frames are made to order, which means that they can be tailored to the specific needs of the artwork. This includes factors such as size, style, and subject matter, making the finished product more complementary to the art.
- High Quality: Custom frames are often made from high-quality materials, and are built to last, providing better protection and preservation for the artwork.
- Unique and Exclusive: Custom frames are unique and exclusive to the piece of art, which makes it stand out and gives it an added value. It also allows for more creative and unique design options, which can enhance the artwork’s aesthetic and emotional impact.
- Cost: Custom framing can be more expensive than off-the-shelf framing, as it typically requires more time and resources to create.
- Lead time: Custom framing can take longer to complete than off-the-shelf framing as it needs to be made to order, it may take longer to receive the final product.
- Limited Access: Not all places have custom framing services available, it may be difficult to find a good framer in certain areas, or some people may not have the resources to go out and search for one.
Custom framing is a great option if you are looking for a unique, high-quality frame that is tailored to the specific needs of the artwork. However, it can be more expensive and time-consuming than off-the-shelf framing, and it may not be as easily accessible as off-the-shelf frames.
Framing as an Art-form
I believe that framing is an art-form in its own right. Framing well requires skill, creativity, and knowledge of materials and techniques that elevates and finishes off a piece of art.
A professional framer will take into account the style of the piece, the composition, the colour, the context of the space where it will be displayed, among other things.
A well-done frame can enhance the artwork and make it more visually appealing. It can also add to the overall ambiance of the room and protect the artwork from damage.
A frame that is not well-suited to the artwork or that does not complement the style and subject matter of the piece can detract from the artwork and make it look out of place, thus diminishing the viewer’s experience. It’s all subjective though.
A Look at Some Iconic Artwork Frames
How a frame destroyed a masterpiece
The frames of the above famous artworks were chosen to complement the style and subject matter of the piece and to enhance the overall experience. I don’t think we can talk about these great masters without mentioning the frame that enhanced it’s story by literally destroyed the artwork inside;
In 2018, Banksy pulled off a stunt that would shake the art world, when one of his works, “Girl with Balloon,” self-destructed inside its frame moments after it was sold for more than $1.4 million at Sotheby’s auction house.
Watch Banksy’s video of the how it all happened
The incident not only shocked and amazed the audience, but it also called attention to the artist’s commentary on the commercialisation and commodification of art. It added an extra layer of meaning and value to the artwork becoming more of an installation than a painting, as it now has a new story behind it, it is not only a painting but a time and place as well as a political statement.
It’s genius. By the frame destroying the artwork it became something totally more.
To sum up, framing artwork is an essential step in the process of displaying and preserving art. The right frame can greatly enhance the overall look and feel of a piece, while also protecting it from damage. From traditional wooden frames to modern metal frames, I have discussed the various types of frames available and their characteristics. I’ve highlighted how the style of frame can enhance the artwork’s aesthetic, emotional connection and atmosphere.
As a final thought, I highly encourage you to visit your local framer. They are experts in their field and can help you to choose the perfect frame for your masterpiece, ensuring that it is protected, preserved and displayed in the best possible way. I love visiting Sarah, my local framer at Blue Magpie Framing in Lavenham. Sarah always manages to surpass my expectations and push my reservations about how my work should be framed.