When we think of custom framed artwork, we often think of professional paintings and gallery-grade work. But student work also deserves a custom treatment, especially work by young students. Here are 4 reasons we think you should make sure to custom frame your child’s artwork.
Kid’s Art is Fragile, & Needs Extra Protection-
Kid’s art is often made with construction paper, crayons, finger paints, tempera paint, glitter, you name it. It often includes mixed media, recycled materials, and non-traditional materials like the popcorn kernels in the piece to the left. I doubt any fine art institution has ever tested the lightfastness of macaroni or pipe-cleaners! Kid’s art materials are made to be cheap and easy to clean, not to be lightfast or archival like fine art materials. Because of this hodge-podge of craft-quality materials, kids art can bleach, fade, become brittle, fall apart, and just generally deteriorate if it’s not stored or displayed correctly. (Check things that have been on the classroom wall in sunlight through the whole school year- I have some creations at home with clear fade lines that match up with the classroom’s window blinds!)
This is where custom framing shines. Framers can smooth out crumpled construction paper that came home shoved in the bottom of a backpack, or dry mount rolled or wrinkled drawings to keep them flat. Custom framers can even reinforce things like macaroni mosaics with strong silicone glue (as opposed to Elmer’s which can break down over time) to keep things together long term. Glazing and shadowboxing can protect mixed media pieces and prevent bits from being knocked off. Simply encasing the artwork in acid free materials and glazing with a UV protective glass or acrylic can extend the life of these treasured keepsakes for decades.
It Can Look Amazing!
If you’ve ever been in a museum, looking at an abstract painting and thinking “My kid could do that!”, this is the perfect way to prove it! Context is important with art, and you can get truly amazing results if you treat your kid’s scribbles like it’s an amazing original abstract and it’s framed accordingly. I’ve seen this done with a customer’s own elementary school artwork- we picked an exciting wide distressed frame, matted to match the paper color, and it looked like minimalist mid-century modern art. Her interior designer used it as the inspiration for her living room design! You can even get your kids to help you create a special piece for a specific room: Pick a limited color palette that goes with the space, and let them paint big on fine art paper like bristol or a cold press watercolor paper, with watercolor or acrylic (supervised PLEASE!) and mat it. For framed pieces hung at kid level, or really anywhere a kid could reach it, I recommend considering conservation acrylic to avoid breakages.
To Combine A Kid Aesthetic With Grown Up Decor –
If your kid’s bedroom decor is driving you crazy, this is a great way to take wall space away from Fortnite printouts and Frozen stickers. Have kids pick their favorite piece or pieces of artwork, and put them into a frame that coordinates with their furniture. You can even choose a deep metal frame or shadowbox for 3D pieces (especially collages and mixed media pieces) and bring it back to your custom framer to switch out the art every year or so to spotlight more current projects. Once you have the frame and glazing purchased, fitting and refitting is pretty easy and costs are minimal. If you’re going for this option, talk to your framer so they can help you choose a frame layout that allows for easier refitting.
To Encourage Them
This might be the most important reason to frame kids work! Posting your child’s artwork on the fridge is a time-tested tradition, but nothing makes a kid prouder of their artistic endeavors than framing it and hanging it like “grown up art”. In today’s high-stress educational world, kids can lose interest in when they start worrying that they’re “not good at art”. Art and creative skills, like any other skills, have to be encouraged and practiced to evolve. Treating a kid’s artwork like “real” artwork can give them the boost of confidence they need to continue to grow creatively.
Personal story: When I was a child, way back in the mid-nineties, I took an art class that had a “Gallery Show” every summer to show off what the students had done during the year. We framed our work, and gave it title cards complete with made-up prices, and held a public Opening Reception to enhance the gallery feeling. Every once in a while, customers at the gallery would actually make an offer to buy a student’s art for the listed price! For a lot of us, it was the first time we realized our art, and our effort, had worth and value. Some of the work my family custom framed for those Art Shows still hangs in my parent’s house, and even as an adult with an actual art career, I gotta say it makes me feel pretty proud. Locally, the Phebe Anna Thorne School at Bryn Mawr does a similar show for their students, and all of the art in this blog post is from Mira G., a young artist in that program! Nothing makes a kid feel more like a real artist than someone treating their creations as real art.