Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Getting Creative with Mats

A collection of frames in a similar color or style is a great way to unify a series of photography or artwork. But it’s not the only technique you can use. Sometimes, the creative use of mat boards is the best way to weave a common thread through your display.
Color and texture can be used to bring diverse pieces of art together. Our website design tool facilitates easy creation of double and triple mats, giving work added dimension and allowing the artist to incorporate various textures and thicknesses of mat boards. We suggest choosing a hue that mimics a color found in the photos or paintings.

 For even more color, use multiple mats on each frame. It gives your work added dimension, and allows you to experiment with colors and thicknesses. Choose high-textured rag or linen mats for even more visual interest.  Using a metallic mat or a black mat in a double-mat treatment can create eye-catching unexpected impact, giving your art depth and distinction.. You could even get playful by using one color for one of the mats in each treatment, while varying the hues of the second or third mats to create a more subtle unifying visual theme.
Another way to visually connect art is through collage mats. We can custom-cut one mat to showcase multiple photos or pieces of art, so you can frame them together in the same frame.  And since you choose the size of the mat as well as the size, number, and shape of the cuts, the options are limitless. To order a collage mat, simply draw out your diagram including all window openings and mat borders and email to us at Need help? Give us a call.
Have more mat questions? Contact us.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

How to Market Your Art on Social Media

Artists: How to Market Your Art on Social Media
 Being a professional artist is two jobs in one. The first job is expressing yourself through your painting or photography. And the other is marketing the finished product to the audience that will buy it. Each half of the equation depends on the other.

One easy way to market your art is through social media. It’s a free, fast way to build an audience, show them what makes your art different, and eventually make sales. Here are some tips to get started.

Create a Page
First thing’s first, create a separate profile for your art. Playwright and Social Media Expert Carlotta Zimmerman calls it “announcing yourself to the world.” It sets your intention as a serious artist, and filters out the content on your personal page – memes, pet photos, political content– that could distract from your professional brand and turn followers off.

Let People Know Who You Are
Your bio section is a great place to tell people what you’re about and draw them to you. Think of it as an elevator pitch. In a few sentences, tell newcomers to your page why they should follow you. Don’t be afraid to sprinkle in some interesting facts to help you stand out. Did you spend a year teaching art abroad? Was your work in the background of a popular TV show? Did you create a series of art using only pencil shavings, or inspired completely by characters from ‘70s sit-coms? By all means, include it. Your bio is a place to tease readers with a few nuggets that will leave them wanting more, in the hopes they’ll follow you.

Choose a Brand Voice
When you think of a brand, you probably imagine huge companies with recognizable logos and catchy jingles. But if you’re selling something, you have a brand too. And everything you write on social media should reflect that brand and the audience who buys it. The tone of your writing should match your art and the people who buy it, while still sounding like you. If you’re painting peaceful watercolors usually purchased by retirees, for example, you’ll want to avoid stuffing your posts full of the latest slang. It won’t reflect you or the audience you hope to engage.

Keep it Consistent
Make it easy for followers to find you across social media platforms by sticking to one brand name. Claim your professional name, such as “Michael Smith Art” across as many sites as possible before another Michael Smith grabs it out from underneath you. You may not use Snap Chat, Instagram, or Twitter regularly, but you never know when they might come in handy. So, it’s best to claim them while they’re still available.

Focus In
Now that you have a presence on all social media platforms, use them wisely. You don’t have unlimited time to update your pages constantly, so play to each platform’s strengths. Showing examples of your latest work? Instagram and Facebook are great for sharing visuals. Inviting people to an event? Facebook and Twitter let you reach wide audiences. Doing a demonstration or time-lapse video of your art? Try a Facebook Live or upload a video to YouTube and link to it across your accounts, like we do for visiting artists and framing demos. Sharing brief, witty observations about art? That has “Twitter” written all over it. 
Use the 80/20 Rule

The end goal of marketing is to sell your art. So it may seem counterintuitive to post anything that’s not sales-driven. But your followers want to be entertained  ̶  not sold to. So shoot for 80 percent entertaining content, and 20 percent sales content. Share photos of your latest painting with an interesting story about what inspired it. Add tips you’ve learned throughout your career, candid shots of you working in your studio, and how-to videos about your techniques. If you give your viewers content they like, they’ll be warmed up and more apt to engage with sales, promotions, and offers.

It’s called social media for a reason. It’s meant to be a two-way connection between you and your audience. So, if someone leaves a compliment about your work or asks a question about your process, respond to them just like you would if they had spoken to you in person. Engaging fans on social media is a chance to solidify relationships that could turn into connections or even sales. And steer clear of canned responses. If a follower can see you’re copying and pasting a scripted message to everyone who comments, they’ll feel like they wasted their time writing to you. So craft a short, heartfelt response to anyone who comments on your content.
Get social with us. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or LinkedIn for How-Tos, the latest news and offers, and other great content.

Give Your Art Dramatic Distinction

Selling your art is about drawing the right eyes to it. So, how can you make your painting or photography stand out at a gallery show or art fair? By adding a dash of drama. And one easy way to do that is with our 8-ply mat boards.
Measuring 1/8 inch thick, they’re twice as thick as standard mat boards, with an extra deep bevel cut to garner attention. The result is a sophisticated, upscale look that sets your work apart in an elegant, high-value way.

American Frame carries two types of 8-ply mat board. Both types feature Bainbridge’s signature ArtcareTM technology, which actively protects your art from harmful gases and pollutants. They are acid and lignin free, as well as fade and bleed resistant.
Bainbridge Artcare Alpharag

These mats are made from 100% pure cotton fiber, which provides extra strength and rigidity. They feature a solid-color core ensuring continuous color throughout the mat.
Bainbridge Artcare Alpha Essentials

When framing older items or your favorite pieces, archival mats are key. Like all things Artcare, mat boards feature an alkaline pH that meets all museum protection specifications and a solid color core for a seamless transition from surface to bevel. But because they are made of alpha-cellulose as opposed to cotton rag, the price point is a bit lower.
Pair these eye-catching mats with a bold frame for even more excitement, or keep it subtle with a basic black metal frame. 

Love your results? Share them with us. Tweet a photo of your 8-ply mats in use to @AmericanFrame using #AmericanFramed or email it to

Have questions? We’re happy to help. Contact our customer service experts.

For tips and exciting offers, sign up for our e-Tip newsletter.

The Right Paper for the Right Results

At American Frame, we think quality fine art or photographic printing starts with the best paper. That’s why we stock a wide variety of darkroom and gallery-quality papers.
The right paper can go a long way in creating the desired effect in your art. And we have a paper for nearly any look, from glossy photographic papers to textured watercolor papers, each with an archival rating of at least 60 years, which means it will be six decades before any change to the art under normal environmental conditions. Papers vary in the way they absorb ink and reflect light. Our resin-coated photographic papers are Epson Premium Glossy, and Epson Premium Luster, which are the same paper with either a glossy or lustrous finish. We also offer Canson Baryta Photographique 310, typically used for black and white photography, features a clay-coat finish mimicking traditional dark-room papers and lastly in the coated category, the Slickrock Metallic Pearl has an extra shiny finish to make colors pop with the edginess of a metallic finish. The matte-finished photographic paper is Moab Lasal Photo Matte, an exceptional choice for image sharpness and thus is our recommended all-purpose paper. Our selection of matte, fine art papers include Epson Hot Press Bright, perfect to capture geometric shapes, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, a great pick for organic or nature scenes, EpsonSomerset Velvet, which gives images a soft, warm and slightly textured appearance, and Canson Infinity Arches Aquarelle, which we recommend for watercolor art.

Each paper has an intended purpose, but feel free to use them creatively. A textured paper can make a reproduction of a painting look more like the brushstrokes of the original, for instance, but some artists want their prints to look glossy, so their originals stand out. In that case, a photographic paper works well. Feeling adventurous? You can also print on canvas, acrylic, or aluminum.
How do you choose the right paper for your project? Follow this handy flowchart or read our blog post.

Trying a new paper? Order a proof. We offer color and resolution proofs on any paper of your choice for $9.50. 

Need more advice on choosing the right paper? Our customer service team is happy to help.

Fall Was Made for Artists

Picture it: The trees are ablaze with rich reds, gorgeous golds, and vibrant oranges. Autumn makes anyone with a creative streak want to grab their camera or pack up their canvases and paints and head outside to capture the natural beauty they see.
And some locales boast exceptionally stunning fall scenes. So hop in the car and drive to one of these cities to find your autumn inspiration.

Aspen, Colorado
If you’re going after fall colors, It’s hard to overlook a city named after trees. And while the town’s namesakes are demure-looking most of the year, in the fall they turn a glittering yellow hue, providing a perfect contrast to the Evergreens dotting the mountainous landscape. Go from mid to late September, while the leaves are still on the trees, rather than the ground.

Bar Harbor, Maine
The scenic Acadia National Park turns into a visual feast for artists by mid-October. And with 158 miles of rock-studded trails, quaint stone bridges, and serene coastline, you’ll have plenty of places to let nature inspire you.

Russellville, Arkansas
Southern-based photographers swear by the Ozark National Forest. With 1.2 million acres of mountains, springs, rivers, and parks, you’ll never fall short of photo-worthy scenery. The colors are in full glory through October, so plan your trip for then.

Windham, New York
The Catskill Mountains are synonymous with fall photography, and there are a variety of charming small towns from which to choose. But we favor peaceful Windham. It’s known as the “Gem of the Catskills,” and we can see why. You can photograph the historic town-owned Centre Presbyterian Church with sprawling mountains in the background, then head to cute country stores and dine at local French bistros.

Hood River, Oregon
If you like waterfalls with your fall colors, head to Columbia River Gorge, a National Scenic Area boasting 80 miles of beautiful canyon and over 50 waterfalls. The leaves stay vibrant through October and November, so you have plenty of time to create.

Taos, New Mexico
The Southwest isn’t necessarily an autumn-color desert. Artists there head to Taos, New Mexico to take in the Enchanted Circle, an 83-mile drive containing a symphony of splendid fall hues. Turning leaf timetables are unpredictable in the region, so ask your hotel for a suggested date range when you call to book.

Munising, Michigan
You don’t have to hit the desert to see dramatic, multicolored cliffs. You can just visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, home to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The area’s gorgeous sandstone formations are accentuated by picturesque lighthouses and white birch forests. Schedule your trip for October, when the trees are alight with color.

Logan, Ohio
Brilliant fall scenery can also be found closer to home. Ohio residents can head to Hocking Hills State Park for 2,000-plus acres of rich fall colors, hiking trails, and stunning rock formations.  Visits in late September to mid-October will yield the most colorful photographs.

After you take your photos or create your paintings, don’t forget to frame and display them through the season. Our print and frame services let you choose the perfect frame, and we’ll send you the ready-to-hang display.
Share your seasonal photos with us. Tweet a photo of your creation to @AmericanFrame using #AmericanFramed or email it to For tips and exciting offers, sign up for our e-Tip newsletter.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Reframing a Thrift Store Project

It’s easy to see the thrill of thrift store shopping. It gives DIY framers the chance to find something interesting but in need of TLC and transform it into a vibrant focal point. And resale shops are full of neglected artwork begging to be paired with a new frame and mat and injected with new life.

But thrift store finds can present unique challenges. It’s impossible to tell what kinds of materials were originally used to frame them. If conservation-quality materials were not used, removing the frame and backing materials could reveal yellowing and damage. There are other questions that can’t be answered until the frame comes off: Was the artwork mounted with glue or transfer tape, or was it dry mounted? Will it be easy to remove the backing materials and mats, or will doing so tear the artwork? Has the artwork attached itself to the glazing? Until you start removing the old frame, everything’s a mystery.

Recently, we embarked on our own thrift store reframe project, and we faced the same challenges. We located three watercolor prints depicting the streets of York, England at resale shop. As soon as we took the dust cover off the backs and removed the points, we realized the original materials were not conservation grade. The backing of each piece was corrugated cardboard and the watercolor artwork was fastened with either tape or glue to a second piece of corrugated cardboard. Though cardboard is not acid-free and can damage artwork, we decided against removing the cardboard attached to the watercolors because we didn’t want to further damage them.

When it came to the mats, however, we decided to take our chances. They were dirty, and acids had already begun to turn their cores brown, so we opted to carefully remove them.

Then came the new frame treatment. Since we couldn’t detach the cardboard from the art, we needed to incorporate acid-free materials wherever we could. ArtCare mats were the perfect choice. They contain patented microchambers that trap and neutralize acids to help actively protect artwork. Since the art and signature were starting to fade from the pieces, we chose UV protected acrylic glazing to prevent further loss.

The artwork needed a modern touch, so we chose to frame all three pieces together vertically in one frame with a custom-designed mat. We selected a Silver Wood picture frame and layered several mats. For the bottom layer, we used an AlphaEssentials mat with a solid core in black to outline each image, and then put a rich linen textured Bainbridge Artcare AlphaLinen mat in Heather Grey on top.

“I think the reframe project turned out great and it was completely worth the hour or so it took,” Showroom Manager Lindsey Harrison said.
Need help with your framing project? Explore our How-To section or contact us.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Concert Creations: Framing Rock Posters

Summer was made for outdoor concerts.
Nothing beats belting out your favorite songs under the stars, scant feet from your favorite band.

It’s the kind of moment we wish could last forever. And one way to preserve the memory is taking home a concert poster.

Here are some tips and inspiration to keep your musical memories looking pristine for years to come.
Posters are usually sold rolled up. That’s perfect for toting them home from the venue, but not so great for long-term storage. It can cause wrinkles, tears, and other damage. So, if your poster was stored rolled up, we recommend flattening it and storing it in an acid-free portfolio or mounting it on an acid-free self-adhesive mounting board. Steer clear of cardboard, as it contains acid, which could discolor the poster.



It’s important to use acid-free materials to preserve the poster. Try UV resistant acrylic glazing, especially for signed posters.
Posters are often glossy, so consider using mats or spacers to keep the acrylic from sticking to the poster. Otherwise, the poster can eventually fuse itself to the acrylic or the pigment in the poster can transfer onto the acrylic.

Be on the lookout for acid when it comes to mounting the poster as well. Typically, concert posters should not be dry-mounted but rather hinged to a mat board with an acid-free linen tape so you can reframe the poster without damage, especially if it is signed.

Now the fun part choosing the frame and accessories to go with the poster. Because posters often have vibrant colors and unique design details, try using mats and frames that will highlight them. In our examples, we used the following materials.

KISS poster

TW235 Tangerine Metal Frame – we selected this frame to emphasize the skull on the boot

8474 Persian Saphhire Mat – we chose this as a bottom mat to draw further attention boot and the details
8433 Jet Mat – This was the perfect top mat to give the eye a break between the graphics/bright blue mat and the orange frame

Ace Frehley poster

TW233 Purple Haze Metal Frame – We chose this frame to match the purples within the poster.

8003 Gold Mat – This mat with a ½” reveal was selected to draw attention to the rings and sunglasses in the poster.
8107 Peacock Mat – We chose this mat to highlight the intricate design of the jacket.

Ready to frame your poster? Share the results with us. Take a photo of your creation and Tweet it to @AmericanFrame using #AmericanFramed or email it to

Have framing questions? Our experts are here to help. Contact our customer service experts.
For tips and exciting offers, sign up for our e-Tip newsletter.
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