First, let’s talk about margins. What are margins on an art print?
Margins are the white space around the image on a paper print. All art prints, unless they are digitally created, are created from an original piece of art that was created onto board or paper or fabric or canvas (or whatever else the artist works with!).
The artist will photograph the finished piece, hopefully with an excellent camera and excellent preparation.
The size of the image on the print will vary depending upon the size of the finished artwork and/or if the artist has decided to carefully crop the image to make a different-sized print.
The print will then be printed onto paper. Ready to ship to you for framing and hanging!
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The size of the paper for the print will vary depending upon the artist’s desires and also the standard sizes in their locale.
In the USA, we have standard sizes (meaning you can buy pre-made frames in these sizes) such as 5x5, 5x7, 8x8, 8x10, 11x14, 12x12, 16x20.
Considering that the finished original painting that was photographed could have been a VARIETY of shapes – the artist may have created on a long thin board, or a square canvas, or a rectangular piece of paper – the artist will then need to decide which sizes of print(s) will suit the shape of the print. And which sizes they'd like to offer for this print design.
Unless they are offering full-bleed prints – meaning the artwork bleeds off the paper and there is no white margin – there will need to be a margin around the image, on the paper.
Sometimes margins are equal on all sides, such as a square image on a square print. Sometimes margins are equal on the top and bottom but thicker on the sides – imagine that tall thin painting we talked about above? That image on an 8x10 print would look more like the below sample.
Sometimes the margins will be thicker on the top and bottom vs on the sides – think of a horizontal rectangle painting print image placed on a square print paper.
The point is, margins vary. SO:
- Your first job is to look at the OUTSIDE dimensions of the print. Is it a 12x12 inch print? Is it an 11x14 inch print? Pay close attention to the artist’s verbiage as to what size the image is in comparison to the paper.
►Sometimes the description of the print will be “12x12 outer edge size” meaning the outside of the print paper is 12x12 – meaning a 12x12 inch frame will fit the print. The description may or may NOT say the actual dimensions of the artwork ON the print, but hopefully you will have plenty of images of the product that give you an idea of this.
►Sometimes the description of the print will state that the print is “8x10 inch print on an 11x14 inch paper” or “8x10 inch image on an 11x14 inch print”. Pay attention to the larger size. That should determine the size of the paper that the print is one. That is the size you would want to look for in a frame.
- You would then purchase a frame to match the outer size of the paper, and let the pre-set-up margin act as a faux mat inside your frame. You can also choose a pre-made frame with a window opening the size of the outer edge of the print – this would mean the finished product for your wall would be much larger than the print, but the print would sit nicely inside the window.
In order to make a variety of original paintings available in standard sized prints such as 8x10 and 12x12 inch without cropping off a portion of the image (for example, part of the original painting image would be lost if I cropped a square painting into a rectangular print (8x10) or cropped a rectangular painting into a square print (12x12), there is a white border to cushion the painting image on the print surface. The white border is called a margin.
This white border gives space between the image and frame. Allowing the image to “float” inside the frame, with a clean white border, or margin, all around.
If you’d like your print to NOT have a white margin inside the frame, you will want to purchase a print with tiny or no margins on the paper and place it directly into the frame. Or choose a frame that matches the size of the image ON the print vs the outside edges of the print (you may need to contact the artist if this size is not shown in the description) and cut the white margins off of your print when you receive it, to pop it into your frame. Always measure twice and cut once!!
For KmBerggren prints, I offer square paper prints in sizes 5x5, 8x8 and 12x12 inch. I use these print sizes for my art that is created onto a square surface. A square original of any size can be reproduced into a square print.
For rectangular artwork, I offer 5x7, 8x10, 9x12 and 13x19 inch paper prints.
I also offer Stretched Canvas Prints in a variety of sizes, printed by my professional photography lab. Both my paper and canvas prints often feature a lot of Visual Texture, which is when you can see the texture of the original painting, represented in the print.
Art prints that you are framing should NEVER have a blurry look, or a fuzzy look. Read this post to learn what this means, what you should do, and how you can maybe help an artist who has potentially had their art images stolen.
Please Note: KmBerggren stretched canvas prints do NOT have white margins/borders, but are printed full color with a printed dark color wrapped around the edge. Stretched canvas prints arrive wired and ready to hang on the wall, with no framing or matting required, and no staples on the edges.
Would you like a free copy
of my Framing E-Book? Get it here:
When are art prints more DIFFICULT to frame? When the art print is created WITHOUT standard sizes in mind. When an artist offers a print as a 4x12 inch size, or a 3x9 inch size. Maybe a 7x14 inch size or a 13x13 inch size? You can certainly still frame these! You’ll just need a little more time and resources.
You’ll want to find out FOR SURE what size the artwork on the print is (not counting any white margins) and then have the piece custom framed with a custom sized window mat that just hugs the art print image. If you love the print, your finished piece will still be gorgeous, you’ll just need to get a bit more creative.
Thank goodness for custom framing shops that do beautiful work!
And remember, an art print that you purchase from an artist that is shipped to you for hanging, should NEVER have a watermark! Watermarks are for images that are being shared online, to help prevent theft.