Profile color is one of the more distinctive features we notice when first looking at a frame, and the right one can complement the artwork perfectly. But not paying enough attention to this choice can lead to a frame that either overpowers the artwork inside, or doesn't give it the sense of importance it deserves.
We've compiled a quick list of things to consider when you're choosing a frame color to best suit the art you're looking to frame.
1. What is the medium of the art?
Medium refers to the different types of materials used in the art process. Any material can be used as a medium, here are the most common types you’ll run into:
Posters, Prints, & Photographs
Source: Mike Wrobel
Because of their diversity in subject-matter and affordability, posters and prints are a crowd favorite when it comes to purchasing wall art. Never let your poster go bare on a wall because you couldn’t decide on which color frame to choose - aim for a color that’s already used in the piece. Struggling to decide if you should add a mat? We provide some insight into choosing the right frame and mat combos in another blog post.
Source: Denys Argyriou, Jeremy Bishop
Black and white photos are generally accompanied by black and white frames. Frames for colored photos, much like prints, should ideally complement the dominant colors in the photo.
In the photos above, the natural walnut and white frames share the same image. However, while the natural walnut could work, it doesn't do the image justice quite like the white frame.
Paintings and Drawings
Traditional works such as charcoal, pastel, and watercolor go well with modest natural walnut or natural maple frames. Level's natural profiles shows off the wood's grain beautifully which lends itself to a more unrefined, rustic feel.
2. What are you trying to emphasize?
Source: Joel Filipe
Determining the focal point of an artwork is often a subjective task, so you as the art enthusiast should determine what you want the eyes to focus on. You can call out specific elements, tones and emotions by utilizing opposing subject and frame colors.
You can also manipulate the mood of your subject simply by changing the color of the frame.
Pictured above, two identical prints rest side by side. However, the black frame feels heavier while accentuating the deeper, downcast tones, while the white softens and draws attention towards the less saturated parts of the art. The interpretations and emotions are drastically changed when frame colors are interchanged, rendering each print almost unrelated.
3. What is your interior?
The location and hanging placement of your artwork is just as meaningful as its accompanying frame. Decide where you would like your art to reside. If you’re selling the work this may remain a mystery but if you’re responsible for its final resting spot, you don’t want it to look out of place.
If your gallery comes in the form of a residential home then it will come down to your current surroundings, style and personal taste. Modern, industrial, and contemporary homes pair well with white or black frames. In rustic, vintage, and bohemian dwellings, natural wood tones would look right at home. Don't be afraid to match your frame color with existing furniture you may have to create a cohesive space with various complementary features. Just reach out if you'd like us to match a specific shade from your room and we'll see track down any frames that'll fit.
4. When in doubt, black or white
Black and white are classic choices that don't appear everywhere just by chance. This duo is the most situationally-friendly when it comes to framing as they work well with most interiors, artworks, and photographs.
Timeless black frames offer a nice touch of drama while providing your art with a defined territory and personal space. Conversely, white frames work very well with colorful content and allow for soft emphasis on the artwork. White frames on a white wall is especially alluring, giving the illusion of free floating artwork without borders that's one with its surroundings, perfect if you feel like your space is cramped or needs to be lightened up.
An awesome work of art is just not the same when it's in an inappropriate frame. Follow these quick tips and you'll have a clearer idea on what frame colors will work best. We're here to help if you ever need a second opinion, and can track down other styles if you are looking for something beyond our four main frame colors of black, white, natural maple, and natural walnut.
Got a poster, print or photo to frame? Then it's time to get started on customizing your own frame.