7 tips for framing your art without breaking the bank

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Custom framing can be expensive, I have on more than one occasion spent more on framing than on the art itself. And sometimes custom framing is the way to go, but if that isn’t in your budget here are some easy tips on doing it yourself.

Black and metallic watercolor art print in framePictured Mini Poster Print Stream 8x10

Selecting the Frame

There are a few things you can do in purchasing a frame that will save you quite a bit.

1. Buy art in standard sizes

Art comes in an endless number of sizes depending on what the artist was working with… but there are some basic sizes that frames come in, so if you have the choice make sure you stick with the standards. What are the standard sizes you ask? Using photography sizing is a good guide… most people know 5x7, 8x10 and maybe even 11x14, but did you know they continue on up? 12x16 and 12x18 are both pretty common, next we have 16x20 and 24x30 (think standard poster size), but also 30x40 and 36x48.

2. Select off the shelf frames

When you go to select your frame pick an off the shelf option as opposed to selecting from the example frame corners on the wall. Even if you opt to have the store install your art into the frame selecting a pre-constructed frame from the shelf typically saves you A LOT of money vs having one manufactured to your specs. 

3. Shop for frames second hand

Thrift and antique stores can be fun places to find unique frames. Sometimes the art is damaged or out of style but often times the frame has held up well and can be reused for new art.

The finishing details

Now that you have a frame, let's talk about the details of assembling your art into the frame.

Pictured Mini Poster Print Arch (Silver) 12x16

4. Forgo the mat

I personally like framing art un-matted. My art generally works well this way since I don't paint off the edge of the paper and there is a natural margin. But even some prints that bleed to the edge of the printed area can look amazing with just a frame!

5. Buy mats precut or buy separately and have it cut

If you do want to mat your print, there are pre-cut mats available at most framing places or craft/art supply stores. But you can also get them on Amazon. If an off the shelf mat won't work you can buy just the mat and have it cut to your specifications. You don't have to purchase the entire framing package and it's pretty affordable to have a mat cut.

6. Position offset

Sometimes you have an odd sized piece of art that doesn't fit evenly in a standard size frame. In this case, positioning the art offset in the mat can give a more aesthetic intentional look vs un-even edging. It can be a nice alternative to still allow you to work with a standard size frame when you have a non-standard size piece of art.

7. Use acid free double sided tape

This isn't a tip that will save you money in a direct way. But it will help to preserve your art, and ensure your DIY framing job lasts for as long as you want it to. It's not an expensive purchase, usually around $5 and is readily available at craft and framing stores or online.

If you found this article helpful, consider sharing it with a friend. Have fun framing!