Frames - The Word
with Heather René Dunaway

Mark Albertin's black and white portraits of local artists hanging in the city gallery
Mark Albertin's Framed photographs hanging on the Walker display system in the City Gallery 2022

The name of the game is Frames.


I get questioned about framing with every show I put together. Do I need a frame? What type of frames do I need? Will I need wire?


Pretty common questions really. Especially with artists who are new to the frame game and showing their work in galleries or in art shows. The answer to these questions is typically dependent on who is putting the artwork up and what type of hanging system they have in place.


There are some pretty common systems in town. There is the Walker Display System, which is the most common in Historic Downtown. This is a rod-and-rail system. It uses rods that have a hook to a hang from molding or rail above and have adjustable 

hooks or French cleats that can slide up and down the rods. Super easy to get the hang of. It’s used in places like the 600 Broad Gallery, 4P Studios Gallery, The Sacred Heart Hall Gallery and in the Arts Council galleries at City Gallery and the Augusta & Co. Gallery. My understanding is that it puts less wear on the walls as you’re not making a million holes with nails to hang artwork. A lot of the buildings in Downtown are historic and this is kept in mind when creating a space for rotating artwork.


Other methods include S-Hooks that hang on a rail or molding where you can thread monofilament or cord to hoist up the artwork with. Then, there is the tried-and-true nail method. Now, it’s different strokes for different folks, but if I had to pick, I’d go with the nail. Not only does it look clean, but it doesn’t detract from the artwork. As a bonus you get to use a hammer and then have the satisfaction of spackling the hole after its all over. Mama loves to spackle.


So, what does this all mean when it comes to your artwork? Really, the main thing is to make sure your work is wired. Wire works with all of these hanging systems. And it elevates your work to buyers who can easily hang the work in their own home without having to jump through too many hoops.

Now, not all frames work best with wiring. If you’re doing a DIY frame job for some artwork, keep an eye out for wood or composite frames. Plastic, thin frames won’t take wiring, at least not easily. You can learn how to wire on this wikihow.


One easy, no worry way to make sure your work is ready to hang in a gallery is to take it to a local frame shop. Places like Art on Broad, The Frame Shoppe , The Beveled Edge, Summerville Art and Framing and 4P Studios Custom Framing.


There are other options if you want to save and do it yourself. There are premade frames you can buy at craft stores or even thrift at secondhand stores (which I totally do and 100% recommend). Another thing to consider, is mat. Does your piece need it?

It can really highlight an artwork. I for one always use it my framed paper-based pieces. I even invested in my own mat cutter. You can watch the BLICK Youtube video above to learn more.


If you plan to frame your work a lot, you can buy your own mat cutter, or you can just get pre-cut mat. If you make some standard sized pieces on the regular, that might be the option for you. Heck, some store-bought frames even come with mat. Or don’t cut the mat and float-mount your piece. The main point of it is to give your work a solid backdrop to funnel the viewers eye to your art. So however which way you see that working is the way to go. You’re the artist.


Well, that’s the word. Go play the frame game.