To frame or not to frame?


A frame, particularly one that is of archival quality, will protect your work and see that it lasts for years to come. Of course, a framed piece of art is also very aesthetically pleasing, drawing the viewer’s eye towards the work. We would further argue that a good frame shows that you care and value the artwork and artist’s hard work.

Framing an artwork properly is in itself an art, and a good framer is a skilled artisan. Yes, getting art professionally framed is more expensive than the DIY method, but is well worth it if you want to protect and cherish your piece long term. It will be more eyeball-pleasing too, as you can choose a matboard and frame colour that really makes the artwork stand out.

A framer will provide advice about what kind of frame would look the best, but if you’re going down the DIY path and contemplating which kind of frame might work best, consider the following:

  • Style of art. Aside from the considerations of colours and era of art, it may also look better with a mat board around it, rather than being flush up against the frame (a matboard is the strong card that sits between the art and frame). This is particularly so if there is detail right to the border of the artwork - sitting right up against a frame without any kind of visual break may cause shadows, which will hide those details. Some pre-made frames will have a matboard included already.

  • Your space. Combined with the style of art, this will also determine whether you lean more towards a darker or heavier style frame, or a lighter and more modern style.

  • Sustainability. You know that cheap pre-made frame that you bought at that ginormous multinational company’s store? Where did the timber come from to make that frame? A sustainable plantation or recycled source - or an unsustainable plantation or worse still.. Oldgrowth forests? Eek! We’re not sure, because there’s no transparency! Try to find a sustainably-sourced and if possible locally made frame for your beloved piece of art. Another great option is to buy second hand - there is always a pile of frames at op-shops.

BUT, after all this, framing is definitely not the only option! Especially for all the renters out there (which is a lot of us, roughly 30% of Australians!) We explore some excellent alternatives to framing here.

Fiona Hagger