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Head Full of Frames

A couple years ago I saw the band Coldplay live in Portland on their "Head Full of Dreams" World Tour (get it? like head full of dreams but head full of frames instead? I know, I know...I promise that's the only pun in here!) I decided to pick up a concert poster while I was there because I liked the design of it. Aren't concert posters the best?! They are usually pretty cool designs (if you liked the band enough to go see a concert, at least), they remind you of a wonderful time you had, and they cost like $20! If you can manage to get it home safely, it'll pay for itself a thousand times over with the joy they can bring you when you remember that experience.

Side note on getting it home safely- if you like getting posters or artwork when you travel, take a plastic tube so you can safely get them home. This has saved me many times from the heartbreak of coming home from a trip and finding that the fun pieces I found were all bent up or squished and creased. This is one similar to what I have:


Since I got the poster, it had admittedly been living in a pre-made 18x24 frame that I picked up so I could get it on the wall right away. Over the past couple of years it has moved throughout my home and was most recently occupying the highly distinguished and coveted "over the toilet" spot. It was one of the first things I would see in the morning as I sleepily stumbled to turn the bathroom lights on, and it made me smile everyday!

After 2ish years, I decided it was finally time to give it the proper home it deserves. Good things, after all, do take time. So it came to work with me one day and I got to work designing.

When I first started brainstorming a design, I couldn't decide what approach to take. I could take the simple route and do just a frame and no matting. After all, it's just a poster, right? Or I could take advantage of the colorful nature of the poster and really just go for it.

In the end I decided on the "just go for it" route because as us millenials say- YOLO.

The fun thing about concert posters/movie posters/posters in general is that they don't have to be taken too seriously. Often they lend well to use of color and designs that might otherwise be too over the top and overpowering.

When I started playing with the mats, I quickly was drawn to the Crescent brand "Britecore" mats. A typical matboard that we use for most designs is one color on the front and then white on the back. When the matboard is cut on an angle or "bevel", the white part shows along the edge of the artwork. You can see this white bevel in the piece below, for example.


Probably 90% of the framing we do has the white bevel. Nothin' wrong with it! However, there are specialty techniques and matboards that can give a different effect. A reverse bevel, for example, is when the mat board is cut at the opposite angle so there is no white showing. Other mat boards have a "solid core" where it's the same color on the front and back or a "black core" which is exactly what it sounds like.

WOWIE aren't bevels fun?!

But I digress- then there are the aforementioned Crescent brand "Britecore" mats. With Britecore mats, they come in white or black for the front side then a variety of colors (bright ones, go figure) on the back. When I settled on the Britecore mats for this design, it's where I started to get a little...out of hand, perhaps.

Let me just say that I didn't set out to do a piece with 8 mats. I promise...I really wasn't trying to be difficult.

But once I started designing with the Britecore mats, I couldn't stop! I think I picked out 3 colors and thought "This looks pretty cool, but what if I threw another color in there?" 4 looked nice too. I would have been perfectly happy with 4 colors! But then the thought creeped in, "If I'm going to do 4, I might as well do a full rainbow! 6 mats- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet." PERFECT. But wait...

"Gosh, Maria. Don't you think you're going a little overboard with 6 mats?" I thought to myself. Then I found the pink one, then the light blue. That brought the total to 8 mats. Looking at the poster and the "flower of life" symbol that was used, I couldn't think of which color or colors I would possibly eliminate. The 8 colors together played so nicely off the rainbow gradient effect, and I was in love. Taking any of them away just made it look incomplete to me. I consulted coworkers and no one seemed to think I had lost it- so I went for it! Again- YOLO.

When it came to picking a frame, I knew that the mats would really carry the design and that I didn't want anything too crazy. 

But special considerations were taken when it came to the depth of the frame. Accounting for the glass, the 8 mats, and the foam core backing, it would have to house a bit more thickness than perhaps the average frame. That's a lot of stuff!

I ended up picking a simple black lacquered frame that would be deep enough to support all-the-things. I like that it's shiny and adds a bit of glamour and drama to an otherwise simple black frame.

The fun part (heck who am I kidding- it's all fun!) started when it came to putting the piece together. Framing inherently does involve some math. We measure things obsessively. When working with specialty materials, there's little to no room for error when it comes to the numbers. Measure twice, cut once, we say.

Lucky for us, there are some very fancy machines now that do most of the math for us! In our framing software, we are able to enter in dimensions for the piece itself and then put how much mat we want to show. It automatically adds up what the dimensions of the whole piece would be. When I started to put the mats in, I realized that the software only allowed you to enter 6 mats. I never knew that because I had never designed a piece with 6 mats! Or even 5!

Prior to this, I think 4 was the most I had used in a design. Definitely never 8!

For the last 2 mats, we calculated the measurements in the old fashioned way- good ole’ pencil and paper. The computerized mat cutter cut the first 6 all together then we used our manual measurements for cutting the last 2. It was a bit of extra measuring, but in the words of Coldplay's The Scientist, "Nobody said it was easy." In the end, it was so worth it for the rainbow gradient effect I had fallen in love with.

All said and done, I love how the piece turned out! I'm glad I didn't compromise the vision by taking away any of the colors. The concert itself was such a visually stunning performance with all the colors and the lights, and I feel like the frame is an homage to that colorful aesthetic. The addition of the mats as opposed to just the poster frame it was in previously gives the piece more breathing room and doesn't partially cover up the edge of the text around the poster.

I even moved it from the highly coveted, over the toilet spot to my actual living room. Now it's one of the first things I see when I come in the door.

In the words of Coldplay's Sky Full of Stars, "Such a heavenly view
You're such a heavenly view"

This was so fun to come see together, and I can't wait to frame more concert/movie posters! They really are a blast!

If you've got a sweet poster and would love to remember your experience and do it justice beyond thumbtacks on the wall, come see us at the gallery!

A piece like this with 8 mats was certainly an investment and not what I would consider inexpensive. But you probably already knew that custom framing in itself is not "inexpensive." We are, after all, trying to elevate the pieces we love and make them LOOK expensive and loved, right?! I decided that it was worth it to splurge for this piece, but we know it's not very practical to splurge for anything and everything we'd like to frame. With that in mind, we do offer economical, yet still custom, options with our flat rate framing value package.

It's worth noting too that no matter which option you choose- a fancy splurge or a more conservative flat rate framing option- we always use acid free materials that won't discolor your piece over time and UV resistant glass to resist fading from natural and artificial light sources.

Thanks so much for reading, and let me know what you think of this piece! And one last time in the words of Coldplay's True Love, "So tell me you love me (it), and if you don't then lie."

Artfully yours, 

Maria at Scanlon's

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