How to Choose the Right Frame for Your Artwork
News / Collecting

How to Choose the Right Frame for Your Artwork

Sep 27, 2020

Framing is an art in itself and selecting the right frame can transform an artwork, while the wrong one may overpower or distract from it. There are various factors and options to take into consideration when framing your artwork, which we unpack below to help make the decision as easy as possible.

Framing Techniques

Box Frame

When an artwork is box framed there is no space between the print and frame, the artwork sits neatly within it. The only gap is between the print and the glazing. A box frame is used most frequently with prints that have straight, crisp edges as this allows for a neat fit and a polished, contemporary finish.

Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home by Nancy Fouts in a black box frame

Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home by Nancy Fouts in a black box frame

Tim Fishlock editions often have a white border around them so a box frame may work best

Tim Fishlock editions often have a white border around them so a box frame may work best

Floated Framed

When a piece is floated, there is a border between the artwork and the frame. The artwork is flat on the back-board and usually there is a surrounding border space of around 2-3 cm, depending on the desired aesthetic. A floated frame works particularly well for pieces with deckled edges to highlight them.

Bonnie and Clyde's 'Slow Dive' looks perfect in this white floated frame

Bonnie and Clyde's 'Slow Dive' looks perfect in this white floated frame

David Shrigley editions in a floated frame

David Shrigley editions in a floated frame

High Floated Frame

High float is likely the most popular choice right now. It is similar to a floated frame because there is a border surrounding the print but it differs in that the artwork is raised from the back-board, not flat. The print sits on a foam board, which is usually around 5mm in depth, creating a slight shadow below the print for an added effect. As the name suggests, this type of frame has a floating aesthetic - the artwork appears to be suspended slightly within its frame. It gives the piece a subtly dramatic and contemporary finish.

A couple more David Shrigley pieces, in a high-floated frame at our show TYPE

A couple more David Shrigley pieces, in a high-floated frame at our show TYPE

Our clients at No. 29 Power Station West also chose a high float for their Connor Brothers editions

Our clients at No. 29 Power Station West also chose a high float for their Connor Brothers editions

Window Mount

If an image is window mounted it is framed behind a mounting board, which is usually cut with a bevelled edge and sits between the glass and artwork. The mounting board sits on top of the print slightly, which can be useful when cropping or levelling an image. This separates the print from touching the glass, which helps to prevent both ink residue on the glass and any damages related to condensation. This style of framing has a classic, clean-cut appearance which draws the eye to the image. A window mount can also be a decorative choice as these types of frame can be intricately designed and add depth to the work.

These Keith Haring lithographs look very slick with a white mount frame

These Keith Haring lithographs look very slick with a white mount frame

A piece from The Connor Brothers 'Pulp Fiction' series with a window mount

A piece from The Connor Brothers 'Pulp Fiction' series with a window mount

Two window mounted 'Soup Cans' and a high floated 'Very Little Helps'

Two window mounted 'Soup Cans' and a high floated 'Very Little Helps'

"You will be living with your frame, it must appeal to you and it should enhance the art. Choose a frame that best complements the artwork and keep an open mind to explore new ideas with your framer."

Tim Blake, Darbyshire Framers

Glaze

Glass or Perspex?

The glaze you choose for the frame is also worth consideration. With a glass frame there is risk of breakage, unlike perspex which is shatter resistant. Therefore, although perspex is more expensive than having a glass frame it is worth the money when dealing with expensive prints. (You do not want glass shattering over your Banksy!)

Glass is also much heavier than perspex so it can be inconvenient, particularly when framing or hanging large pieces. On the other hand, perspex does require more care when handling because it scratches easier than glass does.

UV Material

Without UV protective material covering the artwork you are more likely to encounter bleaching. Bleaching is where a surface becomes lighter due to damage from sunlight's ultraviolet components.

Anti-Reflective Glaze

For artworks hung in areas where lighting causes reflection, anti-reflective glass or perspex is a great solution. This is produced with an anti-glare coating which reduces unwelcome reflection and glare.

Ideally it is best to have a UV, non-reflective, perspex frame, but of course this depends on where your artwork will hang and your budget.

"Employing appropriate framing materials will ensure the longevity of your artwork. Always specify archival framing components and use a UV filtering glazing material regardless of the hanging location."

Tim Blake, Darbyshire Framers

Kehind Wiley's 'Head of a Young Girl Veiled' in a mounted frame

Kehind Wiley's 'Head of a Young Girl Veiled' in a mounted frame

Artwork Damage as a Result of Framing

Apart from a frame’s aesthetic features, there are other factors to be considered when choosing the right frame, such as accommodating for the environmental factors that may affect your artwork and protecting it in the long run from damage and degradation. We cannot stress the importance of having your artwork framed professionally at a high standard enough. We often encounter Banksy prints that have not been framed to conservation standards and are damaged as a result. Since Banksy editions were not seen as valuable initially as they are today, collectors often did not invest in the quality of their frame resulting in damage. In short, framing is always worth the investment. Below we look at some ways framing could cause damage to your work when it's not done right.

Acid Migration

It is important that prints are mounted both using and onto acid-free products to prevent acids from discolouring the print.

Mounting With Tape

It is important that artwork is mounted using the correct substance to prevent issues such as tape marks. If the wrong tape is used it can lead to unwanted marks and even skinning of the piece. This term refers to the removal of the top layer of a material due to the physical act of removing sticky tape.

Dry mounting is a collector's nightmare and should never be used when dealing with expensive artwork. A dry mount refers to when the print is stuck directly to the back of the frame with glue. The process involves permanently sealing the artwork to an aluminium or paper mount using a specialist tissue or film... and there is no going back!

Environment

Be aware of the environment that your artwork is kept or stored in. Factors like humidity and temperature can affect the framing. For example, perspex is not totally rigid therefore high temperatures or humid conditions can cause a bowed frame.

Humid environments can also lead to foxing. This is a term used to describe localised discolouration of paper, which appears as random rust-coloured spots, usually resulting from humid environments.

"You have a responsibility to maintain a safe and sensible location for your framed artwork; avoid radiators, extreme temperatures, uncontrolled changes in humidity, and direct sunlight."

Tim Blake, Darbyshire Framers

More Framing Inspiration...

In conclusion the options are countless. One final tip if you are unsure of how you would like a certain piece framed is to look into how the artwork at hand has been framed in the past, and take into account how it has been presented by galleries or the artists themselves.

Two ways of framing the same picture - the high float works great for the smaller edition whilst the tray frame is great for the canvas hand-finished version
Two ways of framing the same picture - the high float works great for the smaller edition whilst the tray frame is great for the canvas hand-finished version

Two ways of framing the same picture - the high float works great for the smaller edition whilst the tray frame is great for the canvas hand-finished version

A contemporary frame may not always be the answer... Some classic, ornate framing inspiration from Nancy Fouts
A contemporary frame may not always be the answer... Some classic, ornate framing inspiration from Nancy Fouts

A contemporary frame may not always be the answer... Some classic, ornate framing inspiration from Nancy Fouts

In some cases the right frame may be no frame at all. For example certain originals on board or canvas may work best on their own.

These Tim Fishlock originals on board work best with no frame at all
These Tim Fishlock originals on board work best with no frame at all

These Tim Fishlock originals on board work best with no frame at all

Here you can see the works in situ, no frame needed

Here you can see the works in situ, no frame needed

The high-float frame shows off the edges of this Harland Miller beautifully

The high-float frame shows off the edges of this Harland Miller beautifully

A window mounted, high floated and ornate tray frame respectively for each Banksy piece in our Hang-Up Collections show

A window mounted, high floated and ornate tray frame respectively for each Banksy piece in our Hang-Up Collections show

High float Shrigley at No. 29 Power Station West, Battersea

High float Shrigley at No. 29 Power Station West, Battersea

This high float frame complements the colorful borders of Grayson Perry's latest release

This high float frame complements the colorful borders of Grayson Perry's latest release

A window mount adds the right amount of depth and drama to Joe Webb's 'Goodnight'

A window mount adds the right amount of depth and drama to Joe Webb's 'Goodnight'

Works by Harland Miller, The Connor Brothers and David Shrigley all framed with a high float

Works by Harland Miller, The Connor Brothers and David Shrigley all framed with a high float

We hope this helps make your decision, any questions at all don't hesitate to drop us an email on info@hanguppictures.com or call in on 02036674550. Thanks for reading.

Hang-Up updates.
New works, new shows, new stuff. Cancel anytime.