Bobby’s Guide To Framing (And The Best Printable Art Starting At Just $5)

Photo: Shade Degges
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Design: Grisoro Designs

Art is a great way to bring interest, color, and a personal touch to a space.  But oftentimes, art can be pricey, especially when it comes to custom framing. However, there is a more affordable option – to print and frame your own art – and today we’re showing you how. 

Printing and framing your own art is not only a more economical option, but it also allows you to totally customize your piece to the size you are looking for, as well as the style and type of frame to complement it. And whether you prefer photography, abstract art, landscapes or portraits, there are tons of great options for art that can be downloaded and printed right at home. Ready to see just how easy it is?

 

Keep scrolling to see our tips for how to download, print, and frame art – and shop our favorite printable art and frames (starting at just $5). 

 

Want to see even more art options? Be sure to check out our post Affordable Art Upgrade: 84 Options for Every Style and shop all our favorite art here.

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Design: Brady Tolbert
Photo: Bess Friday
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Photo: Jeff Mindell
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How To Download (& Print) Art

 

So you’ve found a piece of downloadable art that you love (yay!) To purchase a digital download, you proceed just like you would with a physical product, but instead of getting sent an actual piece of art,  you’ll typically receive an e-mail with the digital file attached. Most purchases come with the image in multiple sizes (as separate jpg files), so you have the option of printing at whatever size works best for you.

Once you have downloaded the file, you can simply print the image on your home printer, or if you want to print a larger size, you’ll need to send the file to a local printer. Walgreens, Staples, and Fed-Ex Office all allow you to upload the file and send it to them digitally to be printed and picked up (usually on the same day) at your local store. Or, you can always add your download to an external hard drive and take it to the store for assistance in person.

 

 

BOBBY’S TIP
Be sure to print your art on a heavier weight fine art paper, or a glossy photo paper for photography, which are ideal for bringing out the details and color of the work.

Photo: Amy Bartlam
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Framing 101

 

Once you’ve got your art printed and ready to go, it’s time to add a frame. The right framing can really elevate a piece, so it’s important to consider a number of factors when choosing a frame.

 

  • The Frame
    Frames come in a variety of widths and materials, anywhere from 1/4″ to 3″ wide and usually in wood, metal, or plastic.A thin frame is ideal for smaller pieces and works that feel delicate, while a thicker and deeper frame will make a piece feel more substantial and works well with larger pieces. We typically like to stick to white, black, brass and wood frames, as they work with most pieces of art and design styles.
  • Glass vs. Acrylic
    Frames either have a piece of glass or acrylic to protect your artwork. The size of your frame, and where it’s going to be hung will help determine which is the best option for you.  Glass is going to be heavier and more breakable, but more scratch-resistant. It also provides the clearest view of the work. While acrylic is lighter, more durable, and can be treated to be anti-glare and protect from UV rays.
  • Matting
    A mat is a separate border around the artwork, typically between 1 and 3 inches (but can be larger or smaller) A mat helps highlight artwork by separating it from the frame and drawing your attention to the piece of art. You can also frame a small piece of art with an extra-large mat to give the piece more prominence. Many frames come with a mat, but you can easily create your own using a mat board and mat cutter.
  • Full Bleed
    Full bleed means that the piece of art is flush with the frame, with no space between the art and frame. This style typically works best with larger pieces of art and photography or bold pieces that don’t need any additional emphasis.
  • Floating
    Certain frames allow you to “float” a piece of art. This means the art is not flush with the frame and doesn’t have a mat, rather it is floating between the glass and either the back panel of the frame or another piece of glass. This is a unique way to show off a piece that has an irregular edge, or thicker paper with lots of texture.

 

BOBBY’S TIP
The width of your frame should be skinnier than the mat. So if you have a 1-inch frame, the mat should be at least 1 1/2 inches wide to look best visually.

To give you more framing options, all of these frames offer multiple size options ranging from 4″ x 6″ all the way up to 24″ x 36″ (which is the largest size available in a pre-made frame).

 

1. Thin Black Gallery Matted Frame | 2. Ribba White Frame | 3. Wood and Metal Edge Frame | 4. Thin Brass Poster Frame | 5. Gallery Walnut Picture Frame | 6. Hovsta Birch Frame | 7. Black Poster Frame | 8. White Belmont Frame | 9. Gallery Brushed Silver Frame | 10. Floating Wood Gallery Frame | 11. Brushed Gold Frame | 12. Sherborne Barnwood Picture Frame 

 

 

  1. Thanks for the great tips. Love your blog! One question:. When layering art and leaning it how do you keep it from slipping or scuffing the wall or the other art it is leaning on?

    1. The best way to keep art from scuffing is to add felt pads to the back of the frames. And you can use some putty to attach the art to the surface to keep it from sliding. Thanks for your comment! xx -B

      1. Do you have a budget-friendly suggestion for prints that are a non-standard size (i.e. 11 x 14, 18 x 24)? To me, it’s been, “This will need custom framing.” I’ve considered cutting/trimming the print to make it fit within a mat…which will likely fit in a standard sized frame; I’d rather not.

        1. Almost all pre-made frames are going to be in standard sizes. Instead of cropping the print itself, you could use a standard size frame and cut the mat to fit the print. The mat may not be the same dimensions on all sides, but it’s a good hack to avoid custom framing. Hope that helps! xx -B

      2. Hi! When you say the mat needs to be 1/12 of the frame is that supposed to be 1 and 1/2 ?

        1. Yes, it should be 1 and 1/2″ wide. Thanks for pointing that out – it’s been corrected in the post. xx -B

          1. Any tips on decorating with large pieces of art? I have a few (3-4) I want to put onto the same wall. Should they be staggered? What are your thoughts?

          2. Yes, I would definitely stagger them, keeping about 4-6 inches between each piece. Check out my Creative Director Brady Tolbert’s kitchen for a good example of hanging larger pieces together. Thanks for reading! xx -B

  2. Man oh man. I just live that you explained , so nicely, without condescending, how to do affordable art pieces. Thank you. We love Queer Eye ( and great decorating tips) in Canada. Thanks Bobby.

    1. Thanks for reading love! Glad you found our story helpful. Wishing you all the best in Canada. xx -B

  3. Such great tips thank you! I do have a question, I’m thinking of doing a gallery wall in my living room which has a ceiling all the way to the second floor, and shares a wall with the stairs. Do you think it’s best to take the wall all the way up to the top, or stop partway?

    Thank you!

    1. I would definitely take the gallery wall the whole way up. If you stop halfway, it would look unfinished. Thanks so much for reading! xx -B

  4. Thanks for sharing ideas that us regular folk who don’t have a lot of extra cash can do. It really means a lot that you think of creative ideas for us, too – lack of money doesn’t mean lack of desire to live with good design!

    1. Thanks so much! Design should be enjoyed and available to everyone. Hope you were able to find some inspiration from our art & frame story! xx -B

  5. Do you have any tips for mixing and matching different color frames? I see this done but it never seems to look right when I try. Should the frames be the same thickness or style if they are different colors and sized picture frames? Thanks for the tips!

    1. I recommend sticking to three finishes at most. Black, white, and brass or light wood, silver, and white are both good combinations. They don’t have to be the same thickness but should be similar styles. Going clean and simple with frames is always a good bet, and helps from the pairings looking overly complicated. Hope this helps! xx -B