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We put 10 questions on framing to William, our expert and the head of framing at DeSerres.
Always attuned to the most recent trends in his field, he shares with us some invaluable advice.


Several trends are emerging in the area of framing. Regarding artwork, there is a big demand for very large formats, mostly over-sized photos or abstract paintings. As for frames, the industrial style is all the rage, especially aged and hammered metal finishes. Repurposed and refurbished barn wood, which shows its imperfections and signs of use, as well as colours that align with those of floor coverings are also quite popular. I have also noticed the frequent addition of metal finishes on the wood, of different combinations of finishes on the same frame, and of precious metals.

First for the size: It is possible that your artwork is not a standard size for an off-the-shelf frame. But you may also want a unique custom frame made! Combining mouldings and matching colours might be the best way to display your artwork. As well, you can take advantage of the sound advice of a framer who, thanks to their know-how, will be able to ensure that the artwork is properly preserved.

Framing, first and foremost, serves the artwork, which must be the centre of attention. And in turn, the framed artwork will clearly be the central element for the decor. You cannot force a style upon it so that it fits into a planned decor. For example, the appeal of an abstract urban scene will likely be muted if framed in a rural style. If you wish to respect your decor, you must find a frame that will highlight the artwork while respecting the environment in which it is found.

Today, most decors are minimalist in style, so a basic contemporary frame is a safe bet if you wish to follow current trends. In my opinion, mixing genres and styles can produce pleasant results. There is no reason why you could not frame an abstract work of art in an old, museum style frame and display it in a minimalist decor. This kind of framing can set a tone for a work of art, making it the central element of the decor, regardless of its style. The basic rule still remains the same: the framing must, at all times, complement the artwork.

Framing a photo, like any kind of artwork on paper, should ideally be behind glass with a matting. The photo’s size, print quality and value will influence the type of mounting that should be done so that the framing is done within the accepted norms of the art. On the technical side, one or two mattings should be used to prevent the photo from coming into contact with the glass. If a matting is not used, spacers should be considered or a shadow box.

When choosing the glass, we suggest either glass with a protective UV coating to ensure that the image is preserved or anti-glare glass. This second type of glass is perfectly clear, yet prevents reflections from the ambient lighting.

Artwork on paper (posters, photos, lithographs, watercolour, etc.) should be framed behind glass with a matting and an adequate frame. Oil, acrylic paintings or artwork produced on canvas or wood panels are best exhibited when they are directly framed, with one or several mouldings and no other features.

Acid-free cardboard is cardboard that has been specifically treated to maintain a neutral pH and to limit the emission of acidic gases. This is very important because lignin – a naturally occurring material found in wood, notably the type of wood used in manufacturing paper to ensure the rigidity of the fibres – easily oxidises when it comes in contact with ultraviolet light. This causes paper made from wood pulp to degrade. Acid-free cardboard does not contain lignin, thus preserving the artwork from damage over time.

There are different grades of cardboard, with varying prices, available for framing. Conservation cardboard, once treated to prevent acidification, is acid-free and does not contain any lignin. Museum grade cardboard, made from cotton pulp, tends to be more durable and resistant, in addition to having a natural neutral pH. Framing not only enhances the artwork, but also preserves it.

Anti-UV glass guarantees colour conservation in the framed artwork. This is essential to preserve artwork made using light sensitive mediums, such as watercolours, as well as ink and markers. Although some pigments claim to be resistant to light, how artwork is displayed and how it is conserved will determine the lifespan of the pictorial layer.

You must never rush to choose the framing, nor sacrifice the best options due to concerns over the cost because you risk making the artwork appear ordinary and less appealing. More precisely, the most common errors are: framing the artwork by putting the frame directly on the work of art without any matting, choosing a frame that is too thin and does not respect the proportions of the artwork, or insisting on a style of framing that does not compliment the artwork.

The price will vary depending on the quality of the materials used and the work that must be done.

You must ask yourself several questions:
- Do you want glass with UV protection?
- What will the final size for the artwork be?
- How many mouldings will be used?
- What finish will the mouldings have?
- How many mattings must be cut and how will they be finished?
- Does a fillet have to be added or not?

In short, if you compare two similar products (the framing of two works of art of the same size, with a similar frame, a simple matting and basic glass), the custom framing will cost about twice the price – perhaps more – of an off-the-shelf product sold in the store. Yet, custom framing produces a superior quality product which is made to specific measures. It will enhance and conserve a work of art that you cherish, allowing you to appreciate it for years to come.