I have my first art festival coming up and I have some framed and unframed prints.  I’m not sure how to present my unframed ones. They are mostly 5x7 and 8x10.  I started trying to mat them myself with 2” borders, as that is what someone recommended, but I feel like they look strange. Like there is just too much white space. Is there a different size that people use or is that pretty standard and I am just not used to seeing it?

Also, do you suggest mounting and matting the pictures? What type of mount?

Sorry for my incessant questions, I just want to get this all right. Thanks!

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  • This is a huge help - thank you both! I am definitely going to take your advice. It means a lot to get help from people who are far more experienced than me, so thank you again.
  • Apologies for my delay. Robert, I can imagine how licking the gummed linen tape even once would be bad enough LOL! I use this product because it is super strong, but I moisten the adhesive with distilled water in a spray bottle. I use this tape for hinging mats together and to hold corner mounts to the backing board.

    You might want to get a copy of Greg Perkins' book, Guidelines for Great Frame Design, from Picture Framing Magazine HERE.

    Reading about matting and framing and presentation will be a big help. I have been a subscriber to PFM since 1999, but I have all 31 years of their magazine in my library. I went to West Coast Art & Frame Expo in Las Vegas for the first time in 2005 as a consumer, and then in 2017 I began teaching there for them and writing articles about framing, gilding and digital imaging that they've published.

    Whatever you do, use the opportunity to set your art apart from others in the show. Develop some kind of presentation skills that work with your art. You don't have to mat and frame everything, but it's the best idea and usually a show requiremet that all art hanging be "finished," whether it's with or without a frame. Not all art has to be framed. For artworks in a bin, you and have one bin with matted work and another with unmatted work. That would satisfy the price point game like this: Art on the walls is more expensive and then the price goes down for the matted work and then again for the unmatted work.

    Above all, be selective. Show fewer pieces than you might want to at first. Focus on the best work rather than including everything or this and that just because you can't decide on the best.

  • Matting prints yourself can be pretty tedious. I've found that buying precut mattes from https://www.matboardplus.com/ in quantity is cheaper than buying a few sheets of 32x40 locally and cutting them down.

    The 5x7 prints will go into 8x10 mattes with an inch and a half border on all sides. When ordering take into account the border on the print itself and make the opening a little smaller. The 8x10 is problematic, as a 2" border would give you a 12x14 matte. A standard 11x14 matte has a 7.5x9.5 opening. There is no right or wrong on how much border is used, I've seen 8x10 prints in 16x20 mattes.

    For myself, I don't print either 5x7 or 8x10 as both of those require image cropping of virtually any format digital camera used. I use 5x7.5/5.625 and 8x12/9x12 depending if I'm shooting with a 2x3 aspect or a 3x4. As an aside, the three fourths format fits an 8.5x11 with a half inch margin on the paper and is pretty close with 17x22 paper also. I matte the 5x7.5 and 8x12 prints in 12x16 mattes as I feel the borders with 11x14 are too small. I can mix the 12x16 order size with the two different cutouts for a 100 piece discount which brings the matte down to $1.40 each and a V groove can be added to bring the price up to $2 each.

    Matboardsplus also has packages that include the matte, a backer, and a clear acrylic bag to seal everything up in.

    As far as mounting, I use Lineco archival self adhesive linen tape and hinge the print to the back of the front matte. Small pieces take a couple of strips about 2" long, and bigger pieces take three strips. You can get the pregummed linen tape that have to wetted like an old postage stamp, but you'll hate the taste and feel of the tape after about a half dozen prints. Get the self-adhesive tape and do yourself a favor.

    Good luck!

  • Hi, Kristen. I have been absent from AFI for a while now since I'm doing fewer outdoor fairs and traveling less. And COVID stopped all motivation to stay informed about art fiars, anyway. But AFI has been an important asset to my career, so I like to pay attention here when I can. I just saw your post as I was getting a screen shot of the AFI website since I am preparing for a presentation about being a professional artist.

    I am in my 32nd year as a professional artist and have been a picture frame designer and maker since 1996. I have some perspective to share, but first I must attend a 7:30 Zoom prep-session for my presentation and then immediately afterward at 8:40 catch a ride into town to pick up my vehicle that the mechanic has fixed. I hope to have a little time later today to comment about your matting and framing questions.

    Warmest regards,


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