Framing 101: How to Get the Perfect Frame for Your Art

Leah Bourne

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So you’ve just invested in your first major piece of art—whether it’s a cool piece from that up-and-coming downtown artist or a Mark Rothko you scooped up at Sotheby’s for $75 million—and now you are going to have to frame it. To get the lowdown on the things to consider when framing a piece of art we consulted Steve Cornell, the owner of Gallery 69 & Tribeca Framing in New York City, an art and framing expert who can seriously frame anything and everything (and has!). Here are his tips on how to do it exactly right:
1. Assess Your Goals. Steve advises before you bring your piece of art in to be framed, think about what you are trying to achieve by framing something. “Ask yourself what your goal is—is it decorative, is it conservation based, is it an investment piece?” Steve says. “Consider that your starting point. Investing in a young artist you really believe in versus a piece that you are trying to conserve—your frame is going to be very different.”
2. Take Your Personal Style Into Consideration. “I’m basically a matchmaker,” Steve says of his role in helping clients pick out frames. The best indicator of your frame style, according to Steve, is taking a look at the decor of your apartment. What you would want to hang in your apartment in going to look very different from what a classic Manhattan gallery would hang.
3. You Can Frame Almost Anything. You really can frame basically anything. Steve shared with us that he has framed rugs, Monopoly boards, gun collections, paper weights, and a set of soldier figurines on horseback.
4. Know the Lingo. There are seriously thousands of options when it comes to framing something, according to Steve, so know your lingo. “Matting” is the term used to describe the “window-cut” material placed around an image within a frame. “Glazing” refers to the glass or acrylic material covering the artwork as a means of protection. “Museum mounting,” commonly known as “hinging,” attaches the art with Japanese paper hinges to the board. And a “fillet” is a small piece of moulding which fits inside a larger frame used for decorative purposes.
5. This Isn’t Ikea. Getting a piece custom framed is far more involved than most people imagine. “I’ve had clients say, ‘Give me the oxygen mask’ when they hear the price—they’ve never had anything custom before and are used to the $50 frames from Ikea,” Steve says. “It is ultimately worth the investment.”
Gallery 69 & Tribeca Framing, 69 Leonard Street, New York City, nygallery69.com.

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