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Picture Framing and Art Preservation/matting a signed artists proof print


I am a custom framer and have never had this come up before..The print is a signed/numbered artists proof. The printed area is 21"hx 27"w. The paper has the artists proof # and which copy it is on the left, the artists signature on the right-  which is  common- and I mat the print accordingly, dropping the mat to include all of that- in this case, about an inch . But a celebrity/athlete is the subject of this particular print and has signed the print, as well. The signature is placed in the center of the white area at the bottom- which is fine if the size of the signature was close to the size of the artist's pencil signature. Instead- it is quite large- almost 3 times that of the artist signature- and it's in red sharpie, to boot. When I dropped the mat to accomodate it, it looks awkward and unbalanced. How would you cut the mat? I also tried cutting the mat with a drop down in the center- but it only makes a busy print look even busier. Is there an uncompromising rule to do it one way over the other? any suggestions would be helpful.

Hi Kim,

I'm afraid there isn't one uncompromising rule about this. Design would be a lot easier if there were, but there are only guidelines and sometimes you get great results by breaking the rules.

First, are you showing some white around the image on the top and sides as well as the bottom? If not try doing so to make things more balanced. I'll normally show around 1/4" to 1/2" depending on the overall size, mat reveals and so on. In your case since you need to show much more of the white area on the bottom I would go wider to keep it in proportion.

I would have been tempted to try the drop-down opening too, but those usually end up looking busy, as you mentioned. To balance things out a bit try bottom weighting the mat and make sure your overall mat width is fairly generous. A narrow mat along with everything else would look very awkward.

I'm sorry there's not an ideal solution, but this is one of those times where we just have to work with what we're given.

Picture Framing and Art Preservation

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David Lantrip, MCPF, GCF


I can answer questions about all aspects of framing, with special emphasis on preservation framing. Categories of artwork include works of art on paper, needlework, textiles, paintings on canvas and three-dimensional objects. Components of framing includes frames, glass/glazing, mats, mounting, their features and how to select them.


I have been a professional picture framer and educator in the field since 1994, including framing education for a major franchisor encompassing three brands and the Professional Picture Framers Association, and writing and teaching for DECOR Magazine.

Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) > Board member, PPFA > Member, Certification Board > Member, Chapter relations Committee National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR)

DECOR Magazine, 2005 - 2010 PPFA For Members Only newsletter Member of the PPFA Guidelines task force, assisted in writing PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Paper and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Canvas, and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Textiles and Needlework. Picture Framing Magazine, 2012

Georgia State University, many classes as a student and educator through the Professional Picture Framers Association and DECOR Magazine. Current member of the PPFA guidelines task force and certification board.

Awards and Honors
Earned Certified Picture Framer (CPF) designation in 1996, Master Certified Picture Framer (MCPF) designation in 2004 and Guild Commended Framer (GCF) status in 2008.

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