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Ditch the Professional Framer – 3 DIY Ways to Display Art

I think people get a little intimidated by art on paper. The idea that it needs to be professionally framed following the purchase may seem cost prohibitive to some buyers. And rightfully so.. custom framing isn’t cheap! Sometimes it can cost more than the art itself. But getting a piece professionally framed is not the only option – in fact what I’ve seen in the interior design world is a movement toward a more down-to-earth approach to displaying work on paper that adds character while keeping costs down.

Here are 3 alternatives to professional framing to consider.

1. Float it
This was a really interesting approach I found from an artist named name Lori Mcnee. She took special nails that she tapped into the wall, then attached the artwork onto the nails with little magnets to float the art away from the wall. More details on this process including the exact hanging materials she used here.

2. Clip it
There are lots of ways to clip art on paper to the wall. You can use bulldog clips or even clothes pins for example if you want a more rustic feel. From a design perspective, the clipping method I think works better when you are displaying multiple smaller works on paper in a cluster or row.

Like this:

Source: apartment therapy

If you want to take that look a step further, a cool approach is to create boards that you can clip the art to. The method below involves some DIY follow through, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as sanding and staining and all that. You could go to a local salvage yard and buy some reclaimed wood (in Detroit check out the Architectural Salvage Warehouse), or search on craigslist for people getting rid of wood, or get creative with other found surfaces. All you have to do then is just cut it to the right size.

If a rustic look is not your home’s style, you could get small floating shelves from Ikea or Target and just hang them flat, and clip the art to that. The shelf below is from Ikea, and you can get them in various dimensions based on the size of the art you’re displaying. You can get floating shelves anywhere though.. Target, Home Depot, or my favorite: Amazon.

3. Custom Mats
One interesting solution to avoid custom framing is to just use frames that you find, maybe at a thrift store or on Ebay. There are tons of vintage frames out there that really add character any space or they can just be a mix of wood tones and styles. The problem that creates is that it might be tough to find art that fits those frames. The solution? Custom mats.

Source: @homepolish

Using a custom mat to make the artwork fit the frame is a really great solution and it really opens up a lot of options because you can use pretty much any size frame that is larger than the artwork, and just let the mat fill in the blank space. Plus incorporating a mat gives the artwork some space to breath away from the frame and prevents the frame from stealing the viewer’s attention away from the art.

A company I really love is Matboard & More. They make buying custom mats REALLY easy. All you have to know is the inner dimensions of your frame (the area where the art is placed inside.. not the outer dimensions of the frame itself) and the size of the art you are wanting to mat. They have a handy calculator that will tell you how big the opening of the mat should be to fit that artwork. That way, if you’re clumsy at math like me, you don’t have to worry about ordering the wrong size by mistake.












Bonus Tip: If you don’t mind the additional cost of professional framing and you just want to buy art that is ready to hang, see if the artist will handle the framing. If you’re buying from me, I can work with you on framing and handle everything on my end so when you receive your artwork, it’s completely ready for its new home in your space. Check out my shop for originals and prints on paper for purchase, and ask me about framing.

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