How to Choose the Right Frame Style For Your Art (And You)

With so many framing styles available, we understand that choosing the right frame and mat combo for your art can be confusing. We've outlined below some of the differences between a number of options, including tips and recommendations to help you narrow them down and finally choose the perfect frame for your art.


Full-bleed printing is when the image covers the paper from edge to edge without any standard borders or margins. Full-bleed framing is when you frame around the full paper dimensions without any matting, with only a thin margin of the print overlapped by the frame on each side.

The Grand Tour, Bon Iver and Ben Harper posters from Invisible Creature.

When your poster or print is a full-bleed, the frame can act as the border around the art. Movie, music posters and any print with a lot of negative (or white) space look great in this full-bleed frame treatment. This can also work well for large and especially oversize pieces, for which a mat may not be necessary and sometimes not recommended.


A mat is a classic way to enhance the artwork within the frame. Level is committed to using only conservation grade mat boards that will look great and safely preserve your art for the long haul. It's essential that the mat you choose is archival in quality, as cheaper mats and anything acidic will yellow and ruin paper-based artwork in even a short period of time.

Moonset, Cache Valley, Utah by Robby Bowles. Wildlife Analysis 02 by Alex G. Griffiths.

When should you opt to add a mat? It's a great call with anything small or when framing items such as memorabilia, personal photos and various artistic prints. Matting adds more impact and allure to your artwork or photo, creating extra space around it and giving the eye breathing room that will naturally draw it towards the center.

For anything smaller than 8 x 8", we highly recommend adding a minimum 1" mat or wider depending on your preference. A slimmer mat provides a more classic look, while a wider mat (2.5" or more) can create a more dramatic focal point and contemporary-feel.

Bag End by Matt Ferguson without matting and with black 2" matting per the 'Golden Ratio' recommendation.

If you have decided to add a mat, how do you determine the right mat width for your art? We have the perfect solution! When you customize a frame for your print, we present a 'Golden Ratio' button that optimizes the mat width for you in a single click based on the the full dimensions of the art being framed.

This will lock in a nice balance between the width of the profile, the size of the mat and your artwork. Of course, it's only a recommendation; you can deviate from our golden ratio to choose a profile and mat width that works best for you and your space.

Sizing a mat to expose the signature of Elliot McDowell at the bottom of "Ancient Mariner", a 20" x 20" archival ink print.

A final note on matting: If you have a specific size you'd like for the mat window opening, just let us know and we'd be happy to accommodate. Sometimes this is necessary if your print has a very wide border, or if there is a signature or edition number on the print that you would like to display.

Float Mounting

Depending on the aesthetic of your print and the type of paper it's printed on, we may recommend floating as an option. Floating a print means that it will sit on top of the matting, as opposed to being partially overlapped by the mat.

Diamond Girl by David Welker, framed in black 3/4" gallery frame, a beveled float mount, and 1/2" spacers to create depth.

When a print has deckled or uneven edges, we typically suggest this treatment to emphasize and showcase the texture and shape of the paper. Floating artwork creates a subtle but dramatic effect that can enhance the overall beauty of the artwork and look great on any wall. If you are curious about float mounting, you can learn about the different ways we can float your artwork.

The Profile

Shop from our Gallery Collection comprised of modern and timeless frames that'll perfectly match almost anything you're looking to frame, or our Rustic Collection that's filled with weathered woods that have plenty of character, or finally our Classic Collection that visually elevates your artwork and photos with a vintage touch.

If you have something different in mind, don't hesitate to let us know. We love custom orders and chances are we've got the style you are looking for!

Unsure about what frame specs work best? Just send us a picture of your art along with it's dimensions. Without having to leave your house, we'll provide a free consult plus selection of mock ups to help you decide. It's one of the reasons why online custom framing is so convenient.

And sometimes it helps to see what other people are framing and the choices they've made for their own artwork and photos. Our Instagram feed chronicles many of the framing projects we're proud of and highlights some of the final results our customers have been kind enough to share.

We constantly strive to make framing more intuitive, interactive and fun, and hope this post has given you a better idea of the various framing options available and what might work well for your items. If you are ready, you can get started on customizing your perfect frame.

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