How to Choose, Frame and Hang an art collection
Good art is the one thing that I will continue to hoard no matter how much stuff I accumulate. I simply can’t get enough art is the ultimate room changer. So today we are talking about how to shop, frame and hang a gallery wall and breaking the whole process down with Etsy and Framebridge. Click on through to see the whole post.
Shopping for and purchasing art used to be degrading, difficult and just generally humiliating with only a couple of options – either generic mass-produced pieces from Big Box stores by nameless ‘artists’ (some of which are still selling these and should just stop), or from art galleries … which are generally wildly more expensive, not to mention just not convenient, so just not terribly accessible. The internet changed everything and made being an artist a real profitable career and democratized it for us non-artist art lovers. Nice job, Al Gore and nice job major retailers that have partnered with real artists 🙂
There are a few power players in the selling of art online, and one of them is our famous friend, Etsy. Most of you know that anybody can sell anything that they make (or vintage) on Etsy without being filtered which means that no one is dictating what they think is ‘good’ and nothing is marked up. Some are cheap, some are expensive, but all of them are available with pricing controlled by the artist. It’s really been a game changer and I can’t tell you how much art we have bought on Etsy over the years.
The only caveat is that the art is often unframed, and framing can be just so tricky, stressful, overwhelming and expensive. Like lampshades with lamps and good pots with plants, custom framing can often be even more expensive than the art itself. I typically use ready-made frames for standard sizes because they are wildly less expensive, and just easier, but when things aren’t standard sizes and you care about them, then you typically have to go to a frame store and choose between 10, 000 different frames with different pricing, and 200 different mattes and then you get your quote and you cry because it came out to $800 for that 8×15 drawing that you bought for $8 from the flea market. Through experience I know how to spot the cheaper frames and I’m already braced for the price, but it’s typically not an enjoyable experience for most people.
But now there are services, like Framebridge, that are taking some of the stress and cost away from framing your favorite pieces and making the whole process so much more convenient.
So here’s what we did: we picked out 16 or so pieces of art from Etsy and then had them custom framed by Framebridge and put them in a couple different gallery walls and now we are going to break down the whole process.
Step 1: Choose a color story and purchase within that palette. We chose two color-stories or themes for these walls – one that was bright and light and happy and one that was darker and a bit moodier.
Step 2: Start shopping (in this case we shopped exclusively on Etsy). We started plugging in our search terms – ‘watercolor’ ‘abstract’ ‘original’ ‘graphic’ ‘bright’ ‘modern’, etc. Generally I like a mix of originals and prints and different mediums. You don’t want all abstract or all graphic photos, and if you can throw something in there that is 3 dimensional (like a collage or a paper sculpture) then that is always a nice addition, too.
Step 3: Get a mix of sizes and orientations. You need a few bigger pieces to ‘ground it’ but you ALSO need a few smaller pieces to help round it out. Make sure you have vertical, horizontal, square and the more strange sized the better. Sometimes when you have a whole wall of standard sizes your eye can just tell – so throw in a few that are odd sizes (like that abstract that is really vertical or the small squares.
Step 4: Choose your frames. Here’s the general rule (that I haven’t always followed, mind you): frame for the art, not for the home. The style of the frame should enhance the piece of art by matching it in style or just being so simple that it goes away and disappears. If the piece if visually light, go for a lighter frame (like most of these). I used to think that the frame had to be proportioned to the size of the piece but I actually really like thin frames on big pieces of art (like the big photo above). And sometimes I really even like big mattes on small pieces of art (like the car photo). There really isn’t a rule about how wide your matte should be, but typically they are at least 2″, with the idea that it helps just give the piece more presence.
Then there are pieces like the bird print, above, which is really small but the frame is thick and I love how it makes the simple bird print feel more important, old world and regal.
Now onto the darker/moodier set:
For this one we chose pieces that were a bit edgier, moodier and had some black in it – because I fully realize that not everyone in the world loves light and airy as much as this chick.
Step 5: Go to the Framebridge site and choose the frame style, size and matte size you want. You can upload the picture of the art into their program so you can see it in multiple frames which we found EXTREMELY helpful and a fun little tool. Once you’ve finalized the pieces then they send you pre-addressed mailers (either tubes or boxes) for you to send your art to them and then a few weeks later you get the art in the mail. They have over 30 different frames in all different styles and widths. Some are more classic (like the bamboo) and some are just really simple (like the floater that is around the large abstract painting).
As a tactile person the only tricky part was choosing the frame without seeing it in person. We had ordered some before this post to make sure that we liked the product so I already had some that I knew I liked. So just know that every piece I got framed looked great in their frames (and all the pieces and coordinating frames are linked below so less work for you).
We got a combination of traditional frames (with glass or plexi) and floaters for the paintings. If you have a large painting on a stretched canvas get it floated – it basically just means that a frame is built around the painting and looks like the painting is, yes, just floating in a simple frame. It’s typically thin and just lets the piece of art shine, and without glass or plexi you can really see brushstrokes. It makes it look really high-end and gallery-like and typically isn’t very expensive.
For this collection we did all black frames, but of various widths and styles so it still looked custom but it has a striking repetition to it.
Step #6: Hang all your new art up. I’ve done a few different tutorials on gallery walls, but I’ll break it down real quick for you: start with art that you love, of various sizing and orientations and just go for it. Start with the big one, put it off-center then build around it making sure that you pepper the colors around evenly. Don’t put two really heavy pieces next to each other OR really light pieces next to each other. Don’t keep all the paintings in one corner and all the photography in the other.
Vintage Blue Sofa from Amsterdam Modern| Cream Pillow | Chevron Blue Denim Pillow | Blue Plaid Throw | Leather Pouf | Marble Side Table (vintage) | Pottery Vase | Gold Wire Lamp | Black Lamp Shade | Rug
Generally this process was pretty darn great – and obviously way faster and easier than shopping for art in person and framing art at a frame shop. Framebridge was extremely easy to work with and produced a very simple, classic and affordable product. The pricing for each piece is different but they all ranged from $80 – $200. Not nothing, but cheaper than most frame stores for sure. Plus getting them in the mail and opening them felt like Christmas.
Now, for some details of the pieces in their frames and links to all those goodies for you to purchase yourself:
1. Cactus Garden Print by Laura Garcia Serventi in White Irvine Frame 2. The Drive Home Original by Brenna Giessen in White Float Frame ($139) 3. Grapefruit Still Life by Elizabeth Mayville in Natural Marin Frame ($59) 4. Laguna Beach Print by Sybil Maxine in Natural Marin Frame ($59) 5. Vase 6. Will You Please Print by Matt Adrian in Potomac Gold Frame ($59) 7. Pink Pillow 8. Color Block Pillow in Lagoon 9. Key Lime Sofa 10. Metaphysical Libertarianism by Suzanne Koett in White Irvine Frame ($139) 11. Happy Day Original by Leah Jesse in Gold Float Frame ($59) 12. Last One In Print by Lisa Golightly in Natural Marin Frame ($139) 13. White Lamp Shade 14. Blue Lamp Base 15. Similar Platner Side Table (ours was vintage)
1. Abstract Original by Reina Abelshauser in Black Float Frame ($159) 2. Vase 3. Coast Print by Anna Magruder in Tacoma ($99) 4. Stone White Pillow Cover 5. Navy Lumbar Pillow 6. Sofa 7. Plaid Throw 8. Black Lamp Shade 9.Gold Cage Lamp 10. Rug 11. Oil Landscape by Pamela Munger in Black Float Frame ($79) 12. Leather Ottoman 13. Picnic In The Park Print by Lisa Golightly in Black Mercer Frame ($79) 14. Above Print by Kai Samuel Davis in Black Bali Frame ($99) 15. Nude Figure by David Lloyd in Black Bali Frame ($59)
*This post was in collaboration with Etsy and Framebridge who has been kind enough to offer 15% off for new Framebridge customers, just use the promo code EMILY (expires 12/31/2015). Photography by Jessica Isaac, art direction/writing by me and styling by Brady Tolbert for EHD. Thanks to Amsterdam Modern for letting us borrow those beautiful simple vintage sofas.