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Matting Your Artwork? Read This First.

Whether you’ve taken the perfect photo and you want to create an eye-catching display or you’re looking for the best way to showcase your soundwave art print, chances are that you’ve considered matting your art. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re choosing a mat for your artwork.

Types of Mats

There are three main types of mats that are used when framing artwork, including paper, alpha cellulose, and rag. Paper mats are the most economical option, but over time, these mats degrade and can stain the photograph or print underneath. That’s not a dealbreaker, but it does mean that you’ll need to keep an eye on the mat, particularly if it’s exposed to sunlight. As soon as the mat begins to look faded or show signs of degradation, it’s time to replace it. Alpha cellulose mats are specially treated to maintain a neutral pH, meaning that they do a better job preserving the artwork. Rag mats are made from 100 percent cotton and do not need to be treated to neutralize the pH. These mats are considered to be museum quality and generally have a price tag to match.

Choosing the Mat Color

Once you’ve determined which type of mat will be best for your needs and budget, it’s time to choose the color. This part of the process is generally the most intimidating, as choosing the right mat color can beautifully accent your piece while choosing the wrong color can overwhelm or draw the eye away from the artwork. Here are three different approaches you can take when selecting the mat color.

Choose a Dominant Color to Create a Customized Look

By pulling out the dominant color in your artwork and choosing a mat in that matches it, you can draw the eye to the artwork rather than to the framing. If you’re matting a photo, for example, you may choose a mat in a color that’s in the background of the picture and select an accent mat that is a darker, stronger color in the art. This creates a customized look that makes a statement.

Choose a Neutral Color to Create a Cohesive Look

In some cases, a neutral color does a good job accenting your artwork without bringing colors that you don’t want into your home décor. Neutral mats that share the same color or are complementing colors can have a unifying effect when you’re hanging several pieces of artwork in different styles, bringing a cohesive look to a gallery wall. Neutral colors can vary from warm to cool and from creams to grays.

Choose a High-Contrast Color Scheme to Make a Statement

To create a high-contrast look for an extra punch, consider using a dark mat on light art or a light mat on dark art. This is particularly effective with brightly colored art that is almost impossible to mat in any hue other than black or white. It also works well for multi-colored art that doesn’t have a dominant color.

The right mat makes a huge difference in the finished product. Ultimately, you can trust your eye to guide you; try a few different mats with your artwork and go with the one that you feel accents your artwork the best.

Mike LaTour - Co-founder Mike LaTour  Soundwave Art
2019 Finalist - Digital Innovation In Art Award

I spent 17 years in the music industry and have always had a love of art. Combining music, sound, and art was a perfect fit.

I’d like to thank you for visiting us and invite you to have a look around. Express your creativity and record a sentiment that will last for generations!