Imagine. The doorbell rings. You’ve been waiting for this delivery all day. It’s either your limited-edition print from BetterShared, or sadly your routine mid-week delivery from a non-descript online company. You look down at your doorstep to a package somewhat resembling what you very much hope is inside. Restraining yourself from breaking into your happy dance in case the neighbours are watching, you quickly turn and shut the door. Removing the packing, you gently unroll your print artwork playing with different ideas in your mind of where you could hang your new prized possession. You don’t have a frame yet, or any idea of how you will hang the piece. But not to worry, as we at BetterShared spoke to industry experts Jack Dormon from Art Install London and interior designers Natasha Landers, Laquita Tate and Kara Thomas to put together a comprehensive guide compiling tips and advice on how to frame, hang and style your art.
To Frame or Not to Frame
Now, you may be thinking what’s all the fuss about framing- it’s quite simple really. Isn't it?
Of course not all artwork needs to be framed. When talking about when would be appropriate to start thinking about the kind of frames that you may want to use, Interior Designer Laquita says that “some original art pieces have the sides of the canvases painted. So, you may choose to expose that. Artwork that is not a typical size needs a custom frame”. When it comes to choosing a frame for your art, you don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to achieve your desired look. For artwork prints you can find affordable frames that suit your own personal style and budget. Try visiting sites like Amazon and eBay, or try your local Michaels, Ikea, charity shop or even a flea market.
It’s All in the Frame
It all depends on the look that you are going for. In regard to framing choices Natasha says: “My key advice would be, are you just looking for something to hang it in because the picture does all it needs to and anything else would distract from that picture, or are you wanting to pick up on some of the colour and opulence of that picture, so the frame becomes part of that picture. For instance, I’ve got some replica 70’s flashcards with all sorts of black imagery. I wanted to create some framing that really showed off what they were, they were quite simple. What I got my framer to do was to mount them so that they look as though they’re float mounting, and then I have a simple frame around them. That to me enhanced what those pictures where”. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your frames. Experiment with different colours and styles. If you want neon pink frames, get neon pink frames. Kara advises that we should “never follow trends, especially when it comes to art. Art is subjective and framing should complement each specific piece. Mixing frames makes art feel more like a curated collection with personality”. The frames that you choose are as much as a mode of self-expression as the other furnishings in your homes are themselves. It can’t be said enough that it’s all about what you like, and what you want to draw attention to through the art that you select.
Kara Thomas @itskarathomas
Art Hanging 101
Hanging art can at first seem quite intimidating because there’s a lot of information out there that promotes the use of nails to fix your art to your walls. This may leave you feeling hesitant to decorate your home in case you make a mistake, especially if you are renting or hoping to sell on your property. For Interior Designer Kara, “blue painter’s tape is your best friend! Map out dimensions and placement on the wall”. Using materials like blue painter’s tape or Velcro strips are an effective and easy way to hang your art on your walls with minimal damage, particularly if you are new to art installation. However, these methods may only work for pieces like prints. For heavier artwork you may have to use a more “invasive” method to ensure that your art is securely attached to the wall.
The dimensions that you will use to decide where to place your art will depend entirely on the height of the walls of your home. We spoke to Jack Dormon from Art Install London who gave his advice on art installation. He says: “a good starting point is to hang at your eye-level to the centre height of the artwork. Do take the ceiling height into account as the positioning will look strange if it is too tight to a joining wall or ceiling. A lot of the time, you may feel inclined to mount your artwork in the middle of a wall (horizontally.) This is not always the best way. If there are any dominant pieces of furniture such as a sofa, you may want to mount your art directly above it, this gives the positioning some purpose. When hanging frames by wire or string, I would recommend using two contact points on the wall spread as wide as possible. This will increase the chances of your artwork staying level over time”.
If you didn’t realise before, art doesn’t always have to be hung on a wall or even from the ceiling. When it comes to experimenting with different ways of your displaying art Laquita told us: “I love layering artwork and leaning artwork against the wall on the floor. Artwork can be placed on picture stands where you place the larger one behind the smaller one”.
Laquita Tate @quitatate
Finding a “Home” for Your Art
There is no correct location to place your art in your home. Art can truly go anywhere. Natasha says that “even when you have a place in mind, unless you have the physical piece on you, it will look different in your place than it would in the gallery. My thing is, have art that you like and even a place in mind for where it might go, but be open to the fact that once it’s in-situ it might not look the same”. One of the reasons for this is because of lighting. Light can truly make a difference to your perception of a piece of art. It can dull or even exaggerate certain colours used within the piece. Jack advises that “if possible, avoid hanging above radiators and in direct sunlight. Over time this can compromise your artwork or frame”. Artworks created using textiles and watercolours are especially sensitive to harsh light, whereas pieces made with oil paints are less likely to be damaged by direct sunlight. A general rule however would be to try to find a place in the shade in order to preserve the quality of your art and frame over time.
The Famed Gallery Wall
Ah, the famous gallery wall. We’ve all seen pictures of enviable gallery walls in many interior design magazines, or saved images for inspiration that we hope to later emulate. If you have a lot of art, a gallery wall can be a fun and creative way to showcase your collection. In terms of getting started, Laquita says: “Start with the larger piece, and then lay out the other medium and small pieces around it. The gallery wall should tell a story, but it should be your story”. You don’t need to have all the pieces of your gallery wall yet. You can always add to it or swap out pieces over time as your collection grows. Also, think about where you might want to display your gallery wall, and where it might have the most impact. Before hanging the pieces that will make up your gallery wall, try out different compositions on the floor to see what works best for you. Natasha says: “I like to use them in places like the stairwell. That can be really difficult to fill. The thing about hanging at eyeline is that you would only create interest at one level but having the feature of a gallery means that you would have lots of different pieces of art in different positions. It’s a bit like filling in a jigsaw".
Natasha Landers @untillemonsrsweet
Styling Your Art
So, what now? You’ve framed your art and it’s now up on the wall. Perhaps you may be thinking about a way to add further zest to your art or give it another dimension. Laquita, Kara and Natasha shared with us their ideas for jazzing up your interiors:
Natasha: “Something that I saw recently and that I’m going to use with one of my clients who has a lot of pop art is that whilst I think I’m going to keep the frames the same, the mounts that they come with I’m going to paint those different colours. Even in a standard frame that you might get from Ikea, they come with a mount that goes around the picture. They’re always white or off-white. But, how about experimenting with colour by painting those in a pop of colour? This could in fact make your piece of art pop. So, it could be something that compliments it.”
Laquita: “You can drape a necklace over the artwork for an additional art piece. You can lean artwork against a mirror or stack it on coffee table books.”
Kara: “Get creative- there are other things that can be framed outside of an art print or photograph. Look through family heirlooms or things collected during traveling such as a silk scarf, baby shoes, or a brooch.”
Now that you've read through our guide, hopefully you're feeling a bit more confident and informed about the different elements of art installation. Feel free to come back to this post to refresh yourself when you need to, and check out the socials of Jack, Natasha, Laquita and Kara to keep up with their latest tips, projects and ventures.
Until next time.