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Author Topic: Custom mat size versus standard mat size  (Read 7440 times)
therron36
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« on: August 29, 2012, 10:57:12 PM »
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Hi guys,

Just starting to stock my gallery with matted prints for sale and was wondering which would be the best approach:

1. Offer a standard mat size eg. 16 x 20" and try to make my prints conform by cropping the image, or having more paper reveal, or by varying the size of the mat opening to suit the image.

2. Just go ahead and mat to suit the print resulting (for the most part) in the need for a custom frame job, but I think a better overall presentation.

3. Give up on the idea of selling matted prints and just sell them framed.

I like to mat my prints with a reveal all round that is thicker at the bottom where I sign and title the print.

For those that have faced this situation, what was your solution? Will option 2 have a big impact on sales?
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Johnny_Boy
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2012, 05:04:35 AM »
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Skip #2. People do not buy matted pictures that are not the standard sizes that they can get cheap frames for.
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k bennett
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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2012, 06:18:28 AM »
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Agree with Johnny, unless you have a very high end clientele, most of your customers will be annoyed by odd mat sizes.

You might look around your town at any shops selling pre-made frames and see what sizes they commonly offer. That way you could make a recommendation if anyone asks. You could also make arrangements with a local custom frame shop to offer a discount on custom frames to your customers. Good framing shops are always looking to partner with good artists -- it's just good for everyone's business.
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Gary Brown
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« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2012, 07:00:00 AM »
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There's an article by Alain Briot on this site about that topic, Matting: The Why & How of Matting Photographs. The first section addresses your question. Basically, he suggests that you do mat your prints, but use a standard (outer) size, customizing the opening if you wish.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2012, 07:41:58 AM »
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FWIW I agree with the others.  Selling matted prints in non-stock sizes isn't going to be overly popular.  Custom framing can be very expensive. 

Using different sized window openings with stock mat sizes is a good idea.  I've got a simple calculator on my server that calculates mat border dimensions.  You can include a paper reveal and there are sheets for both symmetrical and non-symmetrical mat borders and both stock and non-stock mat sizes.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2012, 08:55:44 AM »
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That's a great little tool. Thanks for making that available. I just had a chance to glance at it really, but it doesn't allow for "weighting" the image window (slightly above center) does it?
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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2012, 12:26:55 PM »
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It does.  That's what the 'Non Symmetrical' sheets do.  Have a look and if you've got any questions email me - photog@rf-photography.ca

I created it for myself a few years ago because I was tired of trying to do some of the fractional math in my head and getting it wrong.  Roll Eyes
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AndyS
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« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2012, 01:22:49 PM »
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Would also agree with others - standard mat sizes seem to be much preferred by Customers.

For 3x2 aspect ration prints I currently offer:

9"x6"  - Mat to A4 (am UK based)
12"x8" - Mat to 16"x12"
18"x12" - Mat to 24"x18"


Andrew.

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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2012, 01:24:20 PM »
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It does.  That's what the 'Non Symmetrical' sheets do.  Have a look and if you've got any questions email me - photog@rf-photography.ca

I created it for myself a few years ago because I was tired of trying to do some of the fractional math in my head and getting it wrong.  Roll Eyes

You don't think your alone in that do you? Smiley
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therron36
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« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2012, 05:11:19 PM »
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Great response guys. Thanks for your input and thanks Bob for the link to your calculator.

I think I'll offer my A3 prints in 16x20 mats, that way I can fully utilize a sheet of matboard and foamcore and that size is readily available in pre-made frames.

Guess I just have to get use to asymmetric mats!

Steven.

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framah
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2012, 09:02:17 AM »
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The proper thing to do when using standard mat sizes is to use the opposites equal system.

The top and bottom are the same size and the sides are the same size. That gives it a better sense of balance than having the sides the same and the top and bottom different sizes. THAT way makes it look unbalanced.... because IT IS.

If you really want bottom weighted mats, then you HAVE to cut custom mats, making the top and sides one size and the bottom larger.

Nothing wrong with using standard frame sizes, just make sure they really ARE standard sizes.

If you are unsure about any of this, I suggest you go find a book on mat cutting from the PPFA. (professional picture framers association). They have books about this that framers use to learn the proper way to work and for taking the CPF test. (certified picture framer)
They also have books about the proper ways to mount art.

Suggestions from  fellow photographers is not the way to go as they aren't in the framing business. Most just do it their way because that is what either some other photographer told them or they made it up themselves.

If you want to know how to do something right, go to the people who do it all the time for a living.
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framah
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2012, 09:21:53 AM »
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I went and read Alains matting page and there is only one thing I would disagree with...


DO NOT tape your photo to the back of the mat!!!!   Angry

I cannot stress this enough!!!

First reason:  If someone has to open the package and lifts the mat, there is always the chance of tearing the photo (or whatever).

Second: If the mat gets damaged and has to be replaced, the image is already in place and the new mat just needs to be put back on. The other way, you have to remove the image from the damaged mat, possibly damaging it and then you still have to remount the image. Waste of time and possibly damaging to the art.

Always mount to the backer board, whatever it may be... rag mat or acid free foam core, or whatever you use.

One other thing that bugs the he** out of me... Angry

Do not tape it all the way across the top of the paper, or all the way around the paper!!!
That is what makes the paper ripple and buckle. You have given it no room for expansion and so it does the only thing it can do, ripple in the middle of the paper, and then I'M supposed to remove the tape and then magically make it flat again.

...and do not use masking tape, duct tape, brown packing tape or even bandaids!!!  All of which I have encountered upon opening artists  framing jobs.
OK???

Whew! I feel MUCH better now.  Grin
I can now get back to framing.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2012, 01:22:26 PM »
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Quote
The proper thing to do when

Who says it is proper? In my and many peoples opinion centering the image makes it actually appear slightly below center-hence the reasoning of having the print slightly above center. That was the standard when I got into photography for Adams, Weston everyone that I knew of. I see no reason to change it as I am about to hang my 85th exhibit this year. Many of my exhibits have been framed by professional framers for museums shows (or framed by the museums themselves and their practice has been the same.
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David Eichler
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« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2012, 07:20:56 PM »
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Who says it is proper? In my and many peoples opinion centering the image makes it actually appear slightly below center-hence the reasoning of having the print slightly above center. That was the standard when I got into photography for Adams, Weston everyone that I knew of. I see no reason to change it as I am about to hang my 85th exhibit this year. Many of my exhibits have been framed by professional framers for museums shows (or framed by the museums themselves and their practice has been the same.

Agree with Kirk. That is the way I was trained at NESOP by former students of Minor White, Harry Callahan, etc..
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2012, 08:52:43 PM »
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Agree with Kirk. That is the way I was trained at NESOP by former students of Minor White, Harry Callahan, etc..
As a former student of Minor White and of Paul Caponigro, I fully agree with Kirk and David.   Wink

For a print framed 20x16" I will generally have about a half inch more white space below the image than above.

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JeffKohn
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« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2012, 09:42:05 PM »
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Who says it is proper? In my and many peoples opinion centering the image makes it actually appear slightly below center-hence the reasoning of having the print slightly above center. That was the standard when I got into photography for Adams, Weston everyone that I knew of. I see no reason to change it as I am about to hang my 85th exhibit this year. Many of my exhibits have been framed by professional framers for museums shows (or framed by the museums themselves and their practice has been the same.
I read framah's reply to be that bottom-weighting is fine if the side and top mat borders are the same size (eg equal all around except for the bottom-weight). But if you're trying to fit a custom image size into a standard mat size, such that the top/bottom thickness needs to be different than the sides, then bottom-weighting won't look right.

For instance, if you were to mat a horizontal 12x18" image for an 18x24", framah is saying that 3" mat all around would look better than 3" on the sides, 2.5" on the top, and 3.5" on the bottom.

On the other hand, if matting 10x15 horizontal for 16x20 frame, I think you could go with 2.5" for the top/sides and 3.5" for the bottom.

Personally, I don't like the look of having the side borders be different than the top (regardless of any bottom-weighting); I'd much rather go with a custom size.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2012, 09:55:42 PM »
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And I don't agree as a general rule (bottom weighting yes). If I have vertical image, slightly more room at the top and bottom (still weighted) than the sides can emphasize the verticality and vice versa with horizontal images.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 10:37:26 PM by Kirk Gittings » Logged

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Justan
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« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2012, 09:40:53 AM »
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If you are unsure about any of this, I suggest you go find a book on mat cutting from the PPFA. (professional picture framers association). They have books about this that framers use to learn the proper way to work and for taking the CPF test. (certified picture framer)
They also have books about the proper ways to mount art.

If you want to know how to do something right, go to the people who do it all the time for a living.

Great points! Wish i knew about that book several years ago when i started doing my own matting.
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2012, 07:37:16 AM »
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DO NOT tape your photo to the back of the mat!!!!   Angry

I cannot stress this enough!!!

First reason:  If someone has to open the package and lifts the mat, there is always the chance of tearing the photo (or whatever).

Second: If the mat gets damaged and has to be replaced, the image is already in place and the new mat just needs to be put back on. The other way, you have to remove the image from the damaged mat, possibly damaging it and then you still have to remount the image. Waste of time and possibly damaging to the art.

Always mount to the backer board, whatever it may be... rag mat or acid free foam core, or whatever you use.

One other thing that bugs the he** out of me... Angry

Do not tape it all the way across the top of the paper, or all the way around the paper!!!
That is what makes the paper ripple and buckle. You have given it no room for expansion and so it does the only thing it can do, ripple in the middle of the paper, and then I'M supposed to remove the tape and then magically make it flat again.


Framah... when mounting the photograph to the backer board, how are you securing it?  And to avoid the 'ripples', where do you suggest taping the print?  I never tape the sides or bottom but saw a local "professional" framer use two small strips of (the proper) tape - one at each top corner. This would seem to me to cause the ripple you mention.  I know it uses up more tape, but wouldn't it be better to use a longer piece along 'most' of the top middle, maybe leaving an inch or so on the ends?
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elolaugesen
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« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2012, 02:29:47 PM »
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Framah is correct on all counts.   Framing art properly and preserve value, is not easy nor cheap.

Unfortunately when it comes to the low cost prints I sometime cheat for speed reason.  However only two small pieces of  acid free tape, acid free backing and acid free paper on back of mount.

Then the customer will use a cheap frame, lousy glass(no UVA protection).  Hang it in place with direct sunlight, over a fireplace with spotlights on it.

In no time it will be at a garage sale/car boot sale, or an auction.

I have seen it all happen.

We can only do our best and hope it is appreciated by some of our clients/buyers.

Cheers elo


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