8 Great Tips for Pictures and Frames

Have questions about your frame choice, hanging your art, or getting creative with your display? You’ve come to the right place!

Tip #1 – Standard vs. Custom

Small budget? Standard size-it. Going all out? Get custom.
Small budget? Standard size-it. Going all out? Get custom.

If you know your budget, chances are that will help you decide on a custom picture frame, or a standard one. Standard frames come in a set selection of styles, and are generally cheaper due to the fact they are mass-produced.

Custom frames can be made to any size specifications, and let you pick the exact moulding style, type of glazing, and backing. But with that flexibility comes a higher price tag.

Tip #2 – Going Archival

If you’re displaying an original artwork or a special, limited edition print, you may want to opt for preservation-quality materials that will guarantee no acids seep into your art and damage it over time.

Just framing some family photos? Archival probably isn’t worth the extra cost.

Wide mat? Thin mat?
Wide mat? Thin mat?

Tip #3 – The Mat Dilemma

The right mat size depends on the size of the picture, and the face width of the frame. As a general rule, you always want your mat to be at least 1.5x the width of the frame. And the larger the image, the wider the mat.

(Get custom matboards)

Tip #4 – Fitting Your Artwork; Hinge-huh?

Taping your art on all sides to the backing board is a big no-no.   This keeps the paper from being able to expand and contract – a natural occurrence – and can cause warping and buckling. Instead, “hinge” your artwork in the top two corners and let the rest hang free!

Tip #5 – Perfect Hanging Height

57″ – the sweet spot!

Want to make sure you only need to make one hole in the wall when hanging your artwork? Follow this basic rule of thumb for height: The center (or focal point) of the artwork should be 57″ above the floor.  Problem solved.

Tip #6 – Branch Out with Decor

If you’re a big art lover, chances are you have … just a few prints and framed artworks lying around your home.  Don’t limit those lovely images to the living room! It’s the most obvious place to display art, but the kitchen, bedroom, hallway – even the bathroom – can benefit from a pop of color or class, too!

A note on bathroom prints: the humidity from your shower can cause problems. Your best bet is an inexpensive poster print, or a laminated image. You don’t want your limited edition Picasso getting wrinkly.

Just think of the possibilities for all those frames!
Just think of the possibilities for all those frames!

Tip #7 – Have Fun with Frames

A lot of people just can’t resist picking up frames wherever they see them: thrift stores, bargain bins, liquidation sales.  If you have more frames than art prints, consider expanding their horizon.  Frame needlework, kids’ drawings, relief carvings, fabric, or a chalkboard!

Tip #8 – Get Custom Frames from KeenART Media!

It really is a good tip! The savings we get from working out of a warehouse instead of a retail store are passed right along to you with great prices on top-of-the-line, solid wood picture frames, museum-quality content materials, and too many printing and display services to count!

Check out our amazing array of custom picture frame mouldings, and start home decorating today!

Want to keep reading? Check out our full list of 20 PictureFrame Tips and Tricks on the website!

Do you have some helpful framing tips of your own? We’d love for you to share them with the community in the comments below!

As always, we’re more than happy to help with advice, troubleshooting, or tough questions.  Don’t hesitate to contact us; our knowledgeable staff are always willing to help!

Picture Frame Spacers: The What and the Why

Most of us have done this: We take a photograph we like, and a frame we like.  Then we open the back of the frame, set the photo in, and replace the back.  We set it on the desk, or hang it on the wall, and move on.

If your photo was printed at Walmart from a digital file, you probably spent 20 cents on it, and if you’re anything like me, you plan to save that photo on your hard drive until the end of time.  So if anything happens to the framed piece, no big deal.

The problem arises when folks transfer this framing method to higher quality artworks – say, a signed photographic print you bought from a gallery, or a Giclee print on fine art paper that cost a pretty penny.

When working with fine art items, commit this phrase to memory: The artwork should never, ever come in contact with the glass (or plexiglass).”

There are a couple reasons for this hard and fast rule.

  1. Changes in humidity will often cause condensation to form on the inside of the glazing.If your artwork is pressed against the glass, one of two things can happen: the moisture can seep into the paper, removing the ink or causing discoloration, or the image can adhere to the glazing as the moisture dries, resulting in ripping or peeling when removed.This adhesion can also occur unrelated to moisture, if the inks were still slightly damp, or the media of the original piece is soft or tacky.
  2. Also related to temperature, glazing is a pro at heat transfer, which is a problem for the paper.  Having your artwork pressed against the glass makes it more likely to buckle or warp.
The "how" of art buckling
The “how” of art buckling

Now that you know, what do you do?


Adding a window mat to border you artwork is one painless way of creating that necessary separation between glazing and artwork.  Though only a couple millimeters thick it will do the trick, as long as your artwork isn’t raised off the paper.

But if you need more space, you’ll want to check out:

Frame Spacers

These nifty little plastic or foam board pieces are custom-made to keep your art away from the glazing.

You know the lip of your frame – the piece that overlaps the contents so they don’t fall through? Well, spacers hide behind this lip, invisible to the viewer, but wide enough to hold a space between the glazing and the artwork (or the mat and the artwork, if you want to do it that way).

S-shaped Frame Spacer
S-shaped Frame Spacer

Some plastic frame spacers clip around the glazing, then jut out to form an S-shaped divider.  Others may be tube-shaped, and placed right between, often adhering to the rabbet of the frame (see the diagram for these terms).

Foam board spacers are similar to this latter style, and are custom-cut by us, here at USAonCanvas.  A sheet of foam board with an adhesive on one side is cut into strips exactly the depth you need.

Foam or Tube-Shaped Frame Spacer
Foam or Tube-Shaped Frame Spacer

If you’re using a regular picture frame, you probably only need a depth of a 1/8 – 1/4 inch (remember, the backing needs to go in there, too).  If you’ve purchased a shadow box for an edgy, modern look, or to house a thicker art piece, you could need a spacer as deep as one inch!

We ship the spacers to you – four per frame, one for each side – and you attach them when you fit your artwork.  If we’re not supplying the artwork, we can’t put them in for you, because they must be stuck on after the glazing is in place.

Our custom foam spacers come in white and black, and are only 3/16″ thick.

Frame spacers sit behind the glazing
Frame spacers sit behind the glazing

Ordering Frame Spacers

That 2.5″ is the rabbet

When you request spacers (and you have to let us know in the notes section of your order), do the math and indicate exactly how much space they need to fill: the frame rabbet (always shown on the order page) minus the glazing (3mm if it’s ordered from us), the backing (depends on the style), and the artwork (probably less than a mm).

If you’re uncertain, it’s always best to estimate too deep – since they’re just made of foam board, you can cut them down if need be.

Pumped to get started? Check out our Picture Frame Mouldings and place your order today!

If you want more information, read our full article all about Picture Frame Spacers.  For the full low-down on conservation (archival) framing, check out our article Conservation Picture Framing.

As always, if you have any questions about our services or products, you can contact us.  We’re happy to help!

What is a Certified Picture Framer?

You probably know someone who has had a photograph or artwork professionally framed – maybe you’ve even done so yourself.  But did you know some of those custom framers have actually gone through a certification process and can proudly call themselves CPFs or MCPFs?

It all started with The Professional Picture Framer’s Association.  Established in Virginia in 1971, the PPFA has organized worldwide chapters, annual conferences and competitions, and certification programs sought after by picture framing addicts everywhere.

The group, which now boasts 62 chapters throughout the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, is largely volunteer run, with only a few paid employees at their home base.  Every chapter is manned by dedicated volunteers who just love picture framing!

Picture framer know-how
Picture framer know-how

The first framing competition was held in 1971, the year the PPFA was founded.  Today, the annual competitions take place during the convention in Las Vegas.  There are Open Framing and Print Framing events, along with lots of networking, and opportunities to sit for the CPF exam (which was instigated in 1986).

Yes, there’s an exam! In order to qualify for Certified Picture Framer status, the person in question must fulfil these two criteria:

  • Have a minimum of one year’s experience as a picture framer
  • Have sat for, and successfully completed, the 3-1/2 hour, multiple choice exam

If they just can’t make it to Vegas, though, the exams are also offered at each PPFA chapter, or online.

Framers get to work with beautiful art – the frame and the image!

Evidently, though, CPF isn’t a high enough honor for the most dedicated framers. In 2003, the Master Certified Picture Framer program began. In order to qualify for this elite title, the following criteria must be met:

  • In possession of current CPF certification
  • Have recertified for CPF at least once
  • Prepare and submit four framed items to be examined by a panel of adjudicators
  • Assemble a framed piece on-site, in front of adjudicators
  • Write a condition report for an artwork

As you can see, it’s no walk in the park! This is evidenced by the fact that as of a couple years ago, there were less than 70 MCPFs worldwide.

In addition to all these offerings, the PPFA also manages some publications, including books, newsletters, and DVDs.  Members of the PPFA can access technical articles and online forums on the association’s website.

Framers learn about different styles, eras, textures.
Framers learn about different styles, eras, textures.

All this isn’t to imply that you should only trust a CPF.  There are countless talented picture framers all over the world who just haven’t sat for the exam.   When considering a picture framing business, take a look at work they’ve done in the past – either samples, or ask for names – and get some word of mouth online or from people you know.

(If you want to get a glimpse into the complex world of picture framing, check out our article on Conservation Framing.)

If you want to see what people think of our work at USAonCanvas, check out our Testimonials!  And if you have any questions about our picture framing services, or any of our many other products, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Now it’s your turn.  Have you ever had an artwork custom framed?  Were you happy with the result? Or, if you’re a framer yourself, have you considered or pursued CPF status?


If you’ve ever visited a custom framing shop, or browsed our website, you may have been taken aback by the price of the picture frames.  “Why would I pay $25 for a basic 8×10″ frame when I could grab it off the shelf at Ikea for ten bucks?” you might ask yourself.

It’s a perfectly valid question!

At KeenART Media (I’ll use our own store to represent most custom shops), we offer you high quality, solid wood picture frame mouldings, a selection of more than 500 frame styles (natural wood, rustic wood, gilded, beaded, contemporary, scooped, sloped, curved, bevelled, ornate), mats cut exactly to size, and your choice of backing and acrylic glass.

But good retail shops will also offer high-quality wood frames, and with the lower price, you could always swap out your backing, glazing, or mat if you didn’t like it (we’re happy to do just that for you, too!).

So that’s not necessarily where the difference lies.

So many choices!
So many choices from KeenART Media!

Here’s the thing: custom framing shops are there for custom framing orders.  Certainly we’d love you to order your 8×10″, 16×20″ or 24×36″ picture frame from us and we’re always more than happy to make it for you (we’ll humbly state: we probably have more frame moulding choices than a retail store), but that’s not the primary reason we’re here.

We’re here to build frames for the people who need a 19×21.5″ picture frame with a 4″ mat, in which to display their strangely sized, impossible to fit 11×13.5″ original painting.  We’re here for the edgy interior decorator who wants to frame a teeny tiny 3×3″ print within an 8″ mat with a sliver-thin, shiny gold frame.

In other words, we’re here to make frames that aren’t sold at craft and home decor stores, whether the elusive factor is an unpopular face width, wonky artwork size, or completely unique mat dimensions.  Because those retail stores have to keep all those finished frames in stock, naturally they aren’t going to have room to offer every single frame size from 6.25″ to 48.625″.  They’d need a warehouse the size of Manhattan.  And if they did have room, they’d probably be buying those frames from us!

4×6″ frames with 5″ mouldings, or 24×36″ frames with 1″ mouldings!

Because we cut our mouldings to size when you order a frame, our stock is made up of 12-14 foot lengths of moulding.  As soon as the frame is made, it’s shipped out to you, so we don’t end up with a backlog of frames no one wants to buy.

And since every frame will be cut to size based on the customer’s specifications, everything is cut and assembled by one lucky person.  Retail stores, on the other hand, mostly stock mass-produced, machine-built frames. This doesn’t mean they have lower quality frames, it just means those frames cost less to manufacture.

Our method takes more time, manpower, and human expertise than the retail store’s method.  Add to that the fact that many custom framers are small companies who aren’t buying three hundred pallets of wood at a time, and you can begin to see where that price difference comes from.

Custom, made-to-order, personalized, specialty – whatever you want to call it, we’re setting you up with something you couldn’t get elsewhere, so yes, it might cost a bit more.

Want some quick clarification? Unless you need a specific, unique frame style, the following sizes should be available to you in retail stores:

  • 2.5 x 3.5″ (wallet)
  • 4 x 6″ (common photograph)
  • 5 x 7″
  • 8 x 10″
  • 11 x 14″
  • 16 x 20″
  • 20 x 24″
  • 24 x 36″
This 5x7
This 5×7″ frame can be bought off the shelf, unless you need a specific, unique moulding! Then we’re your go to!

If you have any questions about our myriad frame mouldings, the sizes we offer, our mat, backing, or acrylic glass options, or anything else relating to our various services and products, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our helpful, knowledgeable staff are always happy to set you on the right path!

And now it’s your turn.  What’s your take on the custom framing world? Would you pay more for a special moulding, or settle for your second choice to save money? We’re not judging, we’re just curious!  Get the conversation going in the comments section ↓ .

Finesse your Canvas Print with a Floater Frame

As you probably know, canvas prints are a fantastic option for frameless display.  Because the canvas is stretched and folded around the internal wooden frame, and stapled or nailed only on the back, the front and sides are perfectly presentable without any added embellishment.

But if you’re the kind of person who can’t hang an artwork without the perfect frame, worry not! There are still canvas print options for you.

Besides framing your print in a traditional picture frame (yes, it’s possible!), you should consider choosing a modern, solid wood and crisp lined Canvas Floater Frame.  These unique frames – available mostly in slim, simple lines and classic colors – have a few key qualities that make them a great choice for canvas prints, wood panel prints, and even plaque mounts!


floater_frame_sampleIf you have ever ordered a traditional picture frame, you may be aware that the frame size – 8×10″ for instance, is actually the space across the back opening of the frame, behind the lip.  The lip, then, overlaps each side of the image by about 1/4″.

While this is unavoidable, and prevents the picture or window mat from falling through the frame, it can be problematic when a signature or important detail is located along the edge of an artwork.

Floater frames remove this obstacle.  Because they attach to the internal wood frame on the back of the canvas, they overlap there, instead of in the front.

The result is a frame that showcases the smooth curve of the wrapped canvas edge.


Tapered Edge >> Stair Step Edge >> L-Shape Edge

Speaking of edges, floater frames are designed to allow for 1/4″ of space between the outer edge of the canvas and the inner edge of the frame.  This creates a “floating” appearance within the frame, and an aesthetically pleasing shadow that further highlights the sides of the canvas.

There are three different edge options available.  

Tapered Edge

The frame face of this style comes nearly to a point, for an extremely subtle border.  The edge widens as it recedes toward the back of the frame, ending 1/4″ offset from the face, and forcing the above-mentioned 1/4″ gap.

Stair Step Edge

This floater frame style also forces the gap.  The wider face is still quite narrow, and widens part way toward the back of the frame.

L-Shape Edge

This simple frame style comes in various face widths and shapes. Because there is no step or taper, the frame is purposely cut to be 1/4″ larger on each side, so the canvas can sit in the center in all its shadowed glory.

For more information on edge styles and other inner workings, see our Floater Frames article (you’ll be redirected to our website).


Floater frames come in a number of great, modern styles and shapes.  Instead of extolling their virtues in type, how about I just show you!

Shiny gold stair-step frames
Au naturale pinewood frames
Chunky black (and other color) frames
Art deco silver frames

Rustic, raw wood frames

As you can see – lots of fun and unique styles, one of which is bound to suit your beautiful canvas art print, or even a special original.

Floater frames are an excellent alternative to a traditional frame or a frameless display for your canvas print.  If you have any questions about our selection, the fitting process, or any of our other products and services, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Picking the Right Paper

Unfortunately for the busy artist, deciding to order prints of a painting, digital artwork, or drawing isn’t as simple as sending the image to a printer.

Most print shops have a variety of fine art and photographic papers to choose from, and KeenART Media is no exception!  We currently offer four fine art papers and four photographic papers, in addition to our digital canvas, and we plan to stock even more styles in the future.

At the end of the day, the “best” paper for an image must be determined by the artist.  Different papers are different shades of white, and have different textures and thicknesses.  They may be glossy, matte, or somewhere in between.

For the amateur, however, the discoveries of established artists can be very helpful in selecting a paper for a fine art or photographic print.

Shiny chrome and metal look good on metallic paper.
Shiny chrome and metal look good on metallic paper.
Rough images look good on textured paper
Rough images look good on textured paper

Some Tips:

  • Order the same print on a few different papers so you can see how each turns out.  It
    Left: Textured cold press. Right: Smooth hot press
    Left: Textured cold press. Right: Smooth hot press

    shouldn’t be difficult to choose the best outcome from these sample images.

  • Narrow down your options based on the desired permanence of your print. If you intend for it to last centuries, only look at archival papers.  If you only envision it upon the wall for about 100 years, you needn’t pay extra for archival (non-archival papers are still high quality).
  • Consider the original material.  If you are printing a watercolor, you may want to choose a textured paper that mimics the tooth of the paper on which the image was painted.

Suggestions from Professionals:

High contrast black and white (grayscale) or color images Gloss, semi-gloss, or metallic photographic, or baryta, paper
Low resolution (due to camera quality or large print size) Canvas, or textured watercolor paper
Simple subject matter, no small details (ie: pure blue sky) Canvas, or textured watercolor paper will add interest. Smooth photo rag papers will also work.
A lot of fine detail, distinct design or distant subjects Smooth photo rag matte, or gloss photograph papers
Been digitized from an original watercolor painting A textured, cold press watercolor paper similar to the original
Been digitized from an original acrylic or oil painting A smooth, matte photo rag paper
A lot of dark areas, perhaps with low contrast Glossy or smooth photo rag papers; avoid canvas
A lot of color variation and vibrancy Photographic papers, any paper with a high color gamut.
A lot of modern or metal details, or a moody quality Metallic photographic paper
Very rich, deep blacks A paper with a DMax value of 2.0 for photographic papers, and minimum 1.7 for matte papers.
A wide range of colors, with many different tints or shades of certain colors. A paper with a wide color gamut. This is generally included in the basic description of the paper. Look for “very wide” or “very large.”
Crisp, sharp images such as HDR photographs A smooth photo paper with a wide color gamut. Gloss, semi-gloss or metallic is best.
The need for very smooth transitions between different tones, shades, tints of the same color A smooth, untextured paper. Photo rag is ideal, though semi-gloss and metallic photo papers work as well.
Left: 99% brightness. Right: 104% brightness
Left: 99% brightness. Right: 104% brightness

Papers Available from KeenART Media:

  • Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, Bright White
  • Hahnemuhle German Etching, Textured
  • Moab Photo Rag
  • Epson Enhanced Matte Paper
  • Metallic Photographic Paper
  • Luster Photographic Paper
  • Glossy Photographic Paper
  • Semi-Gloss Photographic Paper

For our full article about printing paper types – including a glossary of terms and more in-depth information – please read Choosing The Right Paper for Printing.  You will be redirected to our website.

As always, if you have any questions about our printing process, fine art papers, or any other products or services, don`t hesitate to contact us.  Our knowledgeable staff are happy to help.

What is a Linen Liner?

If you’re curious about that, you’re definitely not alone.  Though most people have probably seen a linen liner before, they may not be aware, or not have realized this mat-like frame accessory has a different name.

Let's Talk Liners!
Let’s Talk Liners!


Linen liners are basically the canvas version of the mat you’d find around a photograph or drawing in glass-covered picture frame.  Like mats, linen liners are often used when using a frame, as opposed to simply placing the frame directly on top of the canvas.

Because a canvas print – or an original painting on canvas – does not need glazing, a regular paper mat is not used for these displays.  Paper or cotton mats collect dust easily, and can warp or wrinkle from moisture in the air.  As such, you don’t want to leave one out, unprotected by glass.

The same goes for a fine art paper or photographic print.  A canvas, however, is perfectly safe in the open air, as long as it has been treated with a protective coating, and is properly cared for.  At KeenART Media, all our canvas prints have a coating that guards against scuffs, scratches, and UV light damage, and can be wiped with a damp cloth.

Though a canvas artwork can be hung on the wall as is, many people choose to use a frame.  Think of all the classic paintings on canvas in museums – they almost always have an ornate golden frame surrounding them.  Since they don’t usually have a linen liner, though, it’s safe to assume this accessory is a more modern creation.


Most linen liners are made from solid wood, cut in much the same way as a picture frame

moulding, with a lip on one side.  They are sold from the manufacturer in lengths of 12 or 14 feet, just like mouldings.  As their name implies, however, they have been covered with a sheet of linen, which is glued to the wood to give it a soft, fabric texture.  The ends of the liner are unfinished.

Real linen texture
Real linen texture

When a liner is ordered, the framer cuts and creates it just like he or she would a picture frame.  The lengths are mitered – cut at 45 degree angles – and fastened together using an “underpinner,” which shoots L-shaped nails into the bottom of the wood.

You can see the L-shaped
You can see the L-shaped “wedge nails”


Just like a mat, a linen liner serves as a break between the artwork and the frame.  Liners are generally a solid color – often black, white, or beige/natural – with a flat face and slightly bevelled lip.  Sometimes the lip is painted in gold or silver, or covered in a thin sheet of metal for a more ornate look.

Breathing space between frame and art
Breathing space between frame and art

Again, like a mat, the artwork sits within the liner. In this case, however, the art is not taped in place, but attached using offset clips.  Then the liner is set in the frame, also with clips.

Offset clips hole the liner in the frame, much as they will hold the art in the liner
Offset clips hold the liner in the frame, much as they will hold the art in the liner


If you would like a linen liner to accompany your canvas artwork, you must decide how wide you want the liner border to be, just like in the case of a mat.

At KeenART Media, we sell linen liners in seven different widths, three styles, and three colors.  The standard rule is the same for liners as for mats: the border should be no less than double the width of the frame, in order to capitalize on the intended purpose of the liner or mat.

(Not all styles are available in all widths.)


  • 1 inch
  • 1-1/4 inch
  • 1-1/2 inch
  • 1-3/4 inch
  • 2 inch
  • 3 inch
  • 4 inch


  • Plain Face
  • Metal Lip (gold or silver)
  • Painted Lip (gold or silver)

If you’re not sure what liner will work best for your artwork, don’t hesitate to ask! Our knowledgeable staff is always happy to help you troubleshoot, make suggestions, or give advice!  Contact us any time.

Our full article, “Linen Liners,” is available on our website.

Happy Friendship Day!

Your best friend.

She may be someone connected at the hip since kindergarten, or maybe you bonded with him over cocktails just last week.

Your friends are hugely significant factors in your life. Fights with friends rend our hearts, and evenings spent together leave our stomachs sore from laughter.  Like the saying goes, a good friend is hard to find.  So when you find one, make sure you let them know how much they mean!friendship_day_silly

National Friendship Day – which falls on the first Sunday of August – is the perfect opportunity to do or say just a little bit more.  Sure you hug or high five them all the time, but this August 2nd, take it up a notch.

A Giclée Canvas Print is a great way to remind your favorite gal or fella how much they mean to you.  You send us the picture, and KeenART Media does the rest – we can even ship it straight to your pal, all ready to display.

Need some ideas? How about:

  • The cover of the novel the two of you bonded over.  Whether it’s an old classic like Pride and Prejudice, or the third Twilight novelfriends_sketch_canvas, who wouldn’t want a reminder of their favorite story, direct from their favorite friend?
  • A fun picture of the two of you, taken during a night on the town, or that vacation last summer.  If you love the pose but aren’t crazy about the background, our awesome graphic designer can give it a Pop Art effect for a funky, unique look.
  • An image of their favorite flower, motorcycle, painting, or locale.  Whether you take the photo yourself or get the picture second hand, they’ll love that you know just what they like.
  • If your bestie really doesn’t strike you as the Canvas type, order your chosen image with a different display! We have a great selection of services and products, from Fine Art Paper Prints, to Plexi Face Mounts, to Resin Coatings for an edgy, high shine look.

Whatever you decide on, remember to pick something you think they’ll love, not just something you know you’d like.  If no image comes immediately to mind, you might try some of these general gift-picking tips:

  • Snoop around their house. Not into drawers and closets, but try to get a feel for their decorating scheme. If they like simple wallpapers and light shades, go for a picture in this same vein, perhaps pastels or simple floral abstracts. Are they more into bold colors and styles? Choose a photo that reflects this wilder version of their personality.
  • Bring up home decor-related conversations, and then listen. Do they mention an area they wish was better decorated? How about a color scheme in the planning stages? If a blank wall is a subject of despair, sneak a measurement so you can order an artwork of the perfect size.
  • If you’re unable to browse yourself, make use of your own knowledge or chat with otherfriends_adventure_canvas people who know them. What hobbies does the lucky person enjoy? A beautiful mountain vista may be the perfect choice for an avid climber, while a bucolic country or forest scene suits people who just love to commune with nature.
  • Concerned about picking the right thing? Consider ordering a small image. No less thoughtful or eye-catching, a little 10×10″ or 15×20″ print fits perfectly in the front hall, office, or stairwell, and won’t take over. Or, if you really have no idea, you can always just ask! It might not be a complete surprise, but it won’t be any less appreciated.

Have fun, and be creative!

As always, if you have any questions about our products or services, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’re always happy to help, with answers, suggestions, or alternatives!

Deep Dream Effect: Automated Digital Art

Ever wondered what computers dream about when you aren’t pestering them to tell you nearest ice cream shop?

Well, according to Google – some pretty trippy things.

Deep Dream is a computer code, recently released to the public, that originated as part of Google’s foray into Artificial Intelligence. More specifically, their work with image recognition.

Very simply (since it’s all much too dense for my comprehension): Google’s magical ability to understand what you’re looking at (like when you use Google Goggles) comes from the application of dozens of layers, called “artificial neurons.”

Each individual neuron was trained by being shown images of a specific thing (ants, daisies, puppies, etc) until it was able to recognize that thing in any picture.  So now, if you are looking at a picture of Fido playing in the garden, Google should be able to tell you where Fido is, and maybe even specify some individual blooms.

It’s all pretty science fiction, when you get right down to it.  The future of computers, right?

But perhaps the coolest part – at least for those of us who aren’t programming-savvy – is the discovery of what happens when images are put through filters using only one of these many layers.  The result is Van Gogh-esque art, vibrant, conglomerations of pixels, and even flowers in clouds.

Wait – flowers in clouds?

That’s right.  If you put a picture with no flowers in sight – let’s say a clear blue sky with some clouds – through a filter trained to find flowers, it doesn’t come back with an error, as you might expect.

Rather, the filter creates flowers where there were none.

Yep. Those are gerber daisies.
Yep. Those are gerber daisies, or something. (Trippy filter)

So you can understand why this is a pretty exciting development in the tech world.  But it’s actually a pretty great coup for us art-lovers as well.

Some of the filters are great at disguising pixelation.

Fuzzy, blurry horse. Cool painted horse!
Fuzzy, blurry horse –> Cool painted horse! (Facelift filter)

Some just turn you photo into a spectacular artwork.

Plain old beautiful landscape. Artified landscape!
Plain old beautiful landscape –> Artified landscape! (Inceptionist Painting filter)

And others can creep out your sister.

Pretty girl in scarf  –> Terrifying alien-human hybrid! (“Trippy” filter) 

All games aside, here are some examples of the very beautiful textures and artworks possible with Deep Dream:

Clockwise from top left: Botanical Dimensions; Mirage; Art Deco; Inceptionist Painting
Filters, clockwise from top left: Botanical Dimensions; Mirage; Art Deco; Inceptionist Painting

Want to get your hands on your very own Dream-ified print?  Simply check out the full array of sample images in our Deep Dream article.

Then Upload your image, and select the Effect you want from the drop down menu in your cart!

As always, if you have any questions about this fantastic new service, or any of our other products, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Your First Art Show – 10 Tips to Rock It

There are a few unavoidable things that come along with having your first gallery opening and art exhibition. Primarily among them: Nerves.  You’re also bound to face a few glitches – hopefully minor – feel exceedingly overwhelmed, and get that first delightful taste of a complete stranger walking up to you to say how much they love your work.national-gallery

These things are largely unavoidable – and why would you want to avoid them? – but if you follow the advice from successful artists, you can minimize the not-so-nice occurrences, and capitalize on the good ones.


1. Communicate with the Curator

As appreciative as you will no doubt be for this person opening their gallery or store to your art, don’t forget you have a right to be happy with your show, and understand every aspect.

Make sure the terms of the agreement between you and the host are very clear.  Get everything on paper, even little mentions that might make you feel petty.  Unless this is their first show too, they’ll understand why you’re pushing for clarity.

And don’t stop at the curator herself. Speak with anyone else who will be at the opening in a professional capacity.  They should be able to answer some basic questions about you, should they be sought out by a curious guest.

2. Promote, Promote, Promote

Begin promotion for your show a month in advance. Drop off handbills at restaurants and shops around the neighborhood. Consider putting fliers on community bulletin boards.

Get online and tout your show on every social media site you can think of.  Put ads on local buy and sell sites (why not?) and contact any companies who disseminate event information around your area.

3. Prepare the Art

modigliani_gallery_wallThough tempting, it’s generally not advisable to show every piece of art you’ve ever created.  Make sure you are clear on the dimensions of the space and choose accordingly.  Select pieces in a theme, or go for an eclectic array (this may not always be up to you).

Don’t just bring a bunch of originals you plan to price at $100+ each.  Remember that most of the people who come to the exhibit won’t be rich (unless it’s that kind of exhibit and in that case, good for you!). Bring prints of some of your most popular pieces, or even greeting cards.  It’s often more likely that 20 people will buy a greeting card, than that someone will shell out $100 for an original.

4. Gallery Preparations

If you luck into the chance to set up the day before the show, take it! This will give you time to breathe, and you won’t have to bring a change of clothes for the evening.

Make sure you have your cards ready a few days early.  Each card should list the name of the work, the media and substrate, dimensions, and price. If this is a group show, the card also needs your name.  Spellcheck til your eyes bleed!

If it’s up to the curator to set up your art, you can still wander through, making sure everything is level, the correct cards are on the correct pieces, and there are no distracting shadows or bright spots.

5. Prepare Yourself

Mentally. Have ready answers for the questions guests often ask.  You don’t want to reply with a nervous “I dunno,” but you also don’t want to assault their ears with a lofty speech full of thousand dollar words that just leaves them more confused.  Have concise, perhaps humorous comebacks ready for questions like “What is your inspiration?”, “Who are your favorite artists?”, and “How long did this piece take?”.

Emotionally. This step is often overlooked.  You can do everything else just right, and work yourself to the bone setting up the best exhibit ever.  But if you’re exhausted, starving, and cranky by the time the doors open, the guests are going to pick up on that.

6. Ambiance

It is often the task of the curator to set up the entertainment and noshes for a gallery opening, but you’ll want to know what to expect.  Ask questions. Make sure they aren’t serving cold cuts in the midst of your artistic attack on factory farms.  Double check they won’t be playing Bach among your retrospective of 70s rock gods.


7. Have Reasonable Expectations

Remember an art exhibit is as much about networkingart_show_impressionism as selling your art – if not more.  Don’t let yourself get distracted watching for red dots, or discouraged by the lack of personal cheques changing hands.

Even if you end up carting most or all of your originals back home with you at the end of the run, don’t underestimate word of mouth.  Chances are a good number of those browsers passed your card along to a friend who they just know would love your work.

8. Promote Yourself

If you’ve taken care of all the visual aspects early, you’ll be prepared to really jump into the networking scheme of things once the show opens.  Make sure you have business cards on hand, and pass them out to anyone you talk to.

Approach people who are looking at your work. Don’t be presumptuous and try to sell to them, but introduce yourself, let them know you’re around if they have questions.

And remember networking is a two-way street.  Don’t just field inquiries about your work – actually interact.  And collect as many of their business cards as you can.  You never known when you might need to get ahold of a fellow artist, publicist, or gallery owner.

9. Talk To, Not Over

People are bound to ask about your work.  As mentioned above, you should have some statements prepared (memorized, of course), but be conscious of the tone.  You don’t want to simplify everything into one syllable words, but avoid sounding like the stereotypical, esoteric artist whose work can only be understood by minds of the highest caliber. Be humble, honest, and direct.

10. Keep Promoting

Your opening night is over. Congratulations, you survived it! But the work of an artist who wants to make a living is never done.  If you had a mailing list set out at the show, send out a thank you within the next day or so.  Not only is this the polite thing to do, but it will bring the memory of your show back into the guests’ minds.

Be rigorous about updating your social media pages and website in the days following the opening. This is when people will be looking you up, and they shouldn’t see an abandoned Instagram or unattended Twitter.  Be present and you’ll have a better chance of staying on their radar.

These tips from exhibiting artists provide the bones of a great checklist for your first show.  Scour the internet for other advice and feedback to get yourself as prepared as possible.

Have any pointers you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments!

artist_gallery_programBrick and mortar walls are rarely the only place artists show their work.  If you’re looking for an online outlet for your 2-dimensional art, check out our own Artist Gallery Program.  We offer a place to show your paintings, photographs, drawings, or digital artwork at no cost to you.  If a customer orders a print, we do all the work and send you the commission.

As always, if you have any questions about our products and services, our blogs, or your own art, don’t hesitate to contact us!