Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Don’t Hide Your Art! Frame for Minimalism


Eye-catching. Simple. Timeless. These three words capture the essence of a design style that has spanned the centuries: minimalism. Minimalism has been applied to a wide range of art forms, from graphic design to sculpture and photography, and it has a particular role to play in art frames.

What is minimalism?

Minimalism looks exactly the way it sounds. It is characterized by overt simplicity, pronounced contrast, and lots of open space. According to Design Shack, here are a few basic principles of this design theory that will guide you in your framing:
  • Limit yourself to one central visual; your artwork should not compete with the frame, the mat, or any other supporting elements.
  • Focus on content; everything about your framing should drive the eye toward the main subject of your artwork.
  • Stick with sans serif typography (if used).
  • Aim for grid-based images to keep the artwork simple and organized.
  • Let your artwork breathe — cluttering in color or imaging is a no-no.
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Images from photographer Darren White, framed with Ridgeline frames.

What does a minimalist frame look like?

Several types of frames lend themselves to minimalist design. Because this timeless style requires the use of only the absolute basics for functionality, avoiding ornate or detailed frames is a great start.


Keep it simple. Although metal custom frames tend to work best in minimalism, any sleek wood, like a frame from our American Hardwoods Collection, can work as long as it doesn’t distract from the artwork. You may find yourself assuming that thin frames are the way to go, and you wouldn’t be wrong — thin frames tend to work best. But a thick frame can serve a minimalist purpose in the right context as well.

Wider mats are common simply because they add space and breathability to the artwork. Pale-toned linen mats and mats in varied shades of white will simplify the look as well. When selecting colors, consider the elements of contrast and keep in mind that the frame shouldn’t overshadow the painting. And always keep the color palette of the display location top of mind.

What types of artwork are best for this style?

Luckily, minimalism lends itself to a range of art styles; it all comes down to how you pair the painting with the mat and frame. Empty Easel suggests that for a more edgy, contemporary art tends to flourish with plain geometric frames, whereas portraits and landscapes can achieve minimalist looks with more traditional frames.

Images from Stephen Petegorsky, framed with Standard Plus Three frames

For maximum compatibility, consider ordering a custom frame designed to your specifications. Remember, your overall goal is to stick to the bare bones basics so the eyes of your viewers will be drawn to the elegance of your artwork.

These guidelines will give you an excellent starting point, but ultimately, if you can meet the overall goals of minimalism — simplicity, contrast, and focus — while breaking some of the specific tenets of the design style, your artwork will stand out for its own beauty and worth.

Ready to try your hand at minimalist framing? Ridgeline frames are now 20% off, with free shipping on orders of $125 or more!* Contact us at (800) 537-0944 or AmericanFrame.com for more information!

*One coupon per order.

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to  "A Good Frame of Mind."  Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.


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