Thoughts on Framing Styles and Mats

I'm often asked about framing styles and whether prints should be framed with or without a mat. While I can’t claim to be a framing expert, I can share some thoughts on different framing styles a couple of examples from my own collection. Hopefully, these help you on your way to creating the ideal presentation for your print that works best in your space!

To mat, or not to mat?

Is a mat important to framing? I think it is. The main benefit of a mat is that it gives a print ‘room to breathe’ by creating and extra border between the image and the frame. This also scales up the overall presentation size to give and helps smaller pieces take up the space they deserve. 

Below a little 4" x 6" which I scaled up to 8" x 10" with a wide mat.

Susannah Bee abstract original painting framed with mat

 

Beyond the aesthetics, mats offer other benefits. They separate the image from the glazing, keep the print perfectly flat, and when you have your heart set on a certain frame that doesn’t quite conform to the dimensions of your print, a custom cut mat can help you bridge the difference.


As a rule, I suggest that people keep their mats simple and light. What a beautiful example of a framing 'Days Like These' above! Something light and simple like this is the best way to ensure your print will look just as fresh in 20 years as it does today.

Floating

A second approach to framing that can give the same feeling of ‘breathing space’ between the print and the frame is called floating. An image floating over a mat is something that you often see when the paper has an interesting texture or is finished with a detailed edge. However, even with straight-cut paper like my prints, floating style framing gives you a feeling of depth, as it creates some shadow between the print and the mat.
Photographic print floating frame

 

Whereas framing a print with a mat keeps the print perfectly flat, when you float a print in a frame the edges have some ‘play’ to them as they are not secured underneath anything.


The choice of framing style is a matter of personal taste, and there is no one right way to do it but good framing will help keep preserve the beauty of the print for years to come. Your framer can help you visualize your options and create a look that will highlight the beauty of the art on your walls!