The Love & Hate of Framing Art Works

"Picking the right frame can make bad art good and good art great! "says every framer in the world!

WHY are you taking the time to frame your art properly? One has to think that art is more than furniture or more than just mere decoration and that the art you now own is a treasure for many generations. So it's more than just a pretty painting but also a part of history and portrays what is important and inspirational for the collector. Artworks collected & purchased should say something that touches the heart of the art collectors' life.

'Come Play with Tess & Penny in the Garden'

pastel  by Minaz Jantz
Commissioned and framed by art collector Alyssa

Love the art but hate the framing part? There are so many overwhelming choices, terminologies, and GASP for air when you get your framing bill!

First-time collectors will be in SHOCK when they get their first custom framing done and many will say, "But I ONLY paid this price for the art so how can the framing be so much more expensive?". This statement has been expressed by many art collectors to date when looking to get art framed dating back as far as the 13th century. Framing not only adds decoration to a room but also makes the art more protected, more transportable, and directs ambient light onto the art.

'Anytime for a Walk, Clam Harbour', pastel by Minaz Jantz

'Anytime for a Walk, Clam Harbour', 

pastel by Minaz Jantz

Years ago I had the experience of assisting in framing artworks for two Fine Art Galleries. I would see a variety of items framed from tapestries, 3D objects, & original fine art. There are many tips I learned along the way as an assistant framer and seen artworks transformed to the beauty they deserve.

1997 Minaz Jantz,  'Goddess of Wisdom',

1997 Minaz Jantz, 
'Goddess of Wisdom',
 Multi-media, Ink, watercolor, acrylic. 

The frame is a recycled frame attached to foam core 

with decorative frame detailed with jewels, cording, and acrylic paint.

Being an artist with little to no funds for custom framing, I have designed my own creative style of framing with recycled frames, as well as using a foam-core board where the frame becomes a part of the art. I will write more about my creative framing style at another time.

My recommendations in this article are for artworks that could be described as contemporary, modern, and newer art pieces. If you have older paintings needing framing & conservation concerns like cleaning a dirty oil painting, water damage, etc. then it's a must to seek out someone who is a certified framer/conservationist that specializes in working on older works of art.

To find the best framers one must hunt them down. You want a framer who will have a dedicated place to store your art out of harm's way until it's framed.

Talk to your local Art Museum and ask who they might recommend and go look for an ART Gallery that sells expensive paintings with nice frames. Ask someone who they hire for framing services and if he/she is an in-house framer or independent. Can you have their name, please, pretty please with cherries on top?! 

Sometimes great framers are kept secret from the public cause the galleries want to keep them busy with their own artworks so you might have to do some sleuthing!

Once you get a trusted framer you will want to keep them FOREVER! There are a few bad experiences I will share with you who have mishandled my art...for example, one framer actually VACUUMED my pastel painting, taking off the last layer of my thick Schminke pastel. 

Another framer left a BIG GREEN thumbprint with pastel from another part of the painting and left it showing up clearly on a red background also in pastel then framed it just like that and told me, "Tell the art collector that this is what I intended to have shown the thumbprint and tell them its art." I was gasping with anger, to say the least. These are just two situations I personally have had with inexperienced, neglectful, or disrespectful framers.

The first tip for contemporary art is to ENHANCE the original fine art and not detract from the art piece.  Keep the frame simple so that the art stands out more than the frame which is supportive with subtle nuances and not flashes.

Of course, like any rule or tip, you can ignore it and intentionally choose a flashy frame and yet be very suitable & unique to the collector so for those more daring personalities, go ahead and break the rules and go FLASH!

2001 Minaz Jantz, ' Portrait of Robbie Montgomery'

2001 Minaz Jantz, ' Portrait of Robbie Montgomery',

Ink on Paper, Simple Thin Black Wood Frame

Historically only elaborate frames were offered and were a showcase for the framing artisan who did detailed carving and gilding. Each frame was designed individually and could be designed with influences of the buildings' architectural details and also stylized to where the painting would be displayed. You can still find these old gorgeous frames sometimes at furniture auctions. Today there are still a few molding craftsmen and can be ordered through a high-end frame shop but be sure you will pay premium prices for this gorgeous style of handcrafted carved framing.

Link here to the Metropolitan Art Museum and learn more about the history of Italian Renaissance frames.

ADVICE: TO SAVE $...Buy a well-designed quality frame that can travel through various eras of interior design. Frame to the art rather than to your furniture so there is longevity with keeping the art in the same frame as it merges with the changes in home fashion.

Choosing a frame that enhances fine art can be easier said than done for the new art collector. For most of us, BUDGET is KING so state the top amount that you want to spend, and the framer should help you aim for that total!

There are sooo many choices a frame shop will present to you with a wall filled with right angle pieces of wood & metal samples that are all lined up neatly, beckoning you to buy the most expensive ones. You have to feel trust in your framer's guidance to help sift through it all and narrow down the choices.

Link here for some design tips and more about mats & frame choices at Larson Juhl Framing.

ADVICE: Aim to have a framer who has lots of fine art framing experience and is certified in various framing techniques. You want to be dealing with someone who handles original artworks every day and not just mass-produced commercial prints on paper and cheap canvas. Ask him/her all kinds of questions and they should be able to explain and educate you on your choices. You also want someone who will take the time with you and not try to rush you out the door. 

ADVICE: Start looking at the background walls everywhere to see how they present art in places such as interior and architectural magazines & TV shows. GO to art museums and art galleries just to browse art and how it is framed. If you buy your art directly from an artist, they may have suggestions of what could look best for the art. 

Many times the person handling you at the frame shop may not be the same person who works on your art framing but has interior decor talents and some framing experience that also can be very helpful in guiding you through the possibilities.

Second tip: When buying original fine art, the collector should get as much information about what the art is constructed & intended to be displayed: 

1. What mediums such as oil paint, acrylic, pastel, encaustic, charcoal, pencil, pen, etc. are the art made? Each medium has got to be framed accordingly, to preserve the art properly. This is very important information to the professional framer.

2. Does the art have RETOUCHING Varnish on it and does it still need a final varnish at a later date? Oil paintings can take over a year to dry so a Retouch Varnish is put on to protect the painting while it dries. Many oil painter artists will sell the painting still drying and then have it returned when it's dried thoroughly so as not to create the crackle on the surface when the final varnish is put on too soon. For artists who use mediums such as pastel, some will put a spray varnish over their art and some of us don't. Bottom line RULE for framers..never touch the art except for the edges and especially those who frame pastels, pencil, charcoal, photography, etc. and the art should have its own shelf spot to store so nothing else will smear or touch it. 
Art varnish information here.

3. Is the fine art mounted on a board already from the artist or does this service have to be added to the cost of framing? Typically this is for fine art photography but other types of artists might use this too. What is fine art mounting?..click here

4. Is the surface painted on wood, paper, canvas, etc.?

5. Does the art need to have glazing which is another term for glass or plexiglass to protect it? Then there is the choice of what kind of glass, like UV protected, non-breakable, non-glare, museum glass, etc. Link here to read about the various glazing types.

Fine Art Framers may encourage you to spend more $ than you expected but make sure it's truly the best choice you can afford and get them to explain all that they are suggesting as they have had many years of seeing good art be GREAT with framing!

When it's cool to be square...see you around! Minaz!

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