How do you frame your artwork if you have a limited budget but still want a professional look? Buying a standard sized frame and mount is the most cost-effective way approach and is a fraction of the price of a custom-made frame.
There are many ready-made frames available that will enable you to display the majority of the artwork you have; whether you look in the high street or the internet, you will find a huge range. I, and many artists, produce the majority of artwork for print runs to standard sizes so the client can pick their own frame yet still keep within a reasonable budget.
What should I look for?
For the front of the frame – the ‘glass’ – try and get high quality acrylic or actual glass – if it is safe to do so – as it will display the artwork much more attractively than a cheaper version would. I would recommend buying frames that include a ready-made mount as I think it adds a professional look and helps the artwork ‘breathe’.
The ‘mount’ is the card surround that actually frames the picture and the internal dimensions of the mount must be matched to the overall size of the image you want to frame.
Get your sizes right
Generally speaking, there are two systems in use for standard size frames and mounts: metric and imperial. The metric sizes use the ‘A’ series of sizes, each size being approximately 70% bigger or smaller than the previous one and these are usually referred to as A3, A4, A5 etc.
The imperial system uses standard size frames based on photograph dimensions: 7 inches by 5 inches, 9 inches by 7 inches etc. and are usually shown as 7″ x 5″, 9″ x 7″ etc.
The sizes refer to width first and then height, so a 7″ x 5″ frame is longer than it is tall or ‘landscape’, whereas a 5″ x 7″ frame, termed ‘portrait’, is taller than it is wide.
First of all, get your artwork – a print, original watercolour, pencil drawing, photograph etc. – and measure the size that you will see in millimetres and inches until you arrive at a standard size that corresponds to the table above. This will be the internal size for the mount.
It is important to remember that you can ‘hide’ some of the image behind the mount card if you don’t want it including as long as it doesn’t detract from the overall look of the image.
After you have settled on a internal mount size, only then can you buy your frame. The internal sizing dictates only what you see; generally speaking, the outside of the mount will be one or two sizes bigger. For example, a picture that needs an internal mount A4 in size (297mm x 210mm) may well have an outside mount size of A3 (420mm x 297mm).
These sizes are usually stated on the display sheet that is inserted in the frame before you buy it, but if you are not sure, either ask a shop assistant to measure it for you or take a tape measure with you.
The next in the series: adding your artwork to your new frame.