Chris Fedderson — MacroFine Musings
Five by seven or eight by ten? So, which is it!?
So you have a square foot or two of wall space where you want to hang a piece of framed art. You visit a few booths at an Art Fair and find several images you like.
One Artist says, “this is an 8x10” so you know when framed it will probably be about 10x12 at its outside dimensions; perfect for your wall.
Another Artist says, “this print is 5x7” but you could swear it’s the same size as the first one.
A third Artist says, “this piece is 8x10” but you know it’s really more like a foot by a foot-and-a-quarter.
Are all these Artists from different planets?! No. You have just discovered the mysterious world of image/print size identification.
There are many ways that we ID a print’s size — some more sensible than others — and it also makes a difference whether we’re talking of just a print on a piece of paper or whether that print is already matted. Let’s start with just a print…
When speaking of just the print on paper — whether rolled in a tube or bagged with a backing board — the only consideration is the size of the actual printed area since that area will need to be either trapped with a mat or allowed to float within the mat cut-out together with some of the surrounding un-printed paper showing. So a 5x7 print has 5”x7” of printed area, an 8x10 has 8”x10” of printed area, etc.
BUT, when that print is matted (regardless of whether the image is trapped or is floating), there is another factor to consider… presumably it will be framed so it needs to coordinate with frame size designators. In the framing industry there is a coordination of mat sizes and corresponding frame sizes. An 8x10 mat will fit into an 8x10 frame — ANY 8x10 frame — regardless of the size of the printed image or the width of the frame stock. The outside of the mat is equal to the inside of the frame.
A 1”x1” print in an 8x10 mat [with a 1”x1” cut-out] will go in an 8x10 frame, even if that frame is made from stock that is a foot wide. Your finished Art piece will be 2’ 8” X 2’ 10” surrounding a 1”x1” picture — it’ll look ridiculous — but it will still be an 8x10!
Some people want to clarify — or confuse — the issue by saying, “a 5x7 print in an 8x10 mat”. To me, this is just unnecessary info/confusion. Very seldom is anyone concerned about whether their 8x10 matted piece has 5”x7” of printed area or 5.237816498” x 7.732943093”.
OK. So, now you know, but why do you care? Because when you buy un-matted or un-framed art, you will need to know what sizes of materials you’ll need to complete your artwork. The most economical deal for you will be, of course, to go with standard mat and frame sizing. And there are plenty of ‘standard’ sizes available. I use 8x10, 11x14, and 16x20 for any unframed work I sell so my patrons won’t have a framing headache on their hands.
I did an internet search and found some retail framing sources offering as many as 20 different ‘standard’ sizes, ranging from 3x5 to 30x40. Check frame shops and art/craft supply stores or do an internet search for sources for your requirements. Even if the art you fell in love with is an oddball size, not to worry. There are sources available that can frame virtually any size art. Search for ‘custom framing’ in your area to find a gazillion sources.
Thank You for visiting,
P.s. What is the most odd-ball sized piece of you have ever bought? Have you ever NOT bought a matted print because you didn’t want to mess with its odd sizing? What do you think of the aesthetics of prints matted with very wide mat borders? What about prints framed with no mat — with the image running edge to edge? Let us know in the comments section and we’ll chat about it.
I am a Virginia-based photographer and gather my images while hiking in parks and natural areas here at home and in the locations I travel to. I also love to visit arboretums and botanic gardens to find unusual and exotic subjects.