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Image taken by Emily Bers for Athleta

Framing artwork can be hard (and it can get very expensive… *sigh*). Do you want a mat or no mat? What even is a mat?! Okay fine, yes, I want a matted frame.. but then how do I calculate how much larger I want the dimensions of the frame to be? Now I have my frame picked out, but why is it 3 times the price of the actual artwork going in it?!?

Stop right there — Don’t worry, Aleisha’s here to help! Follow her Guide to Framing and you’ll find some peace of mind and eventually end up with a beautiful wall full of perfectly framed artwork (*sigh of relief*).

From sizing guides to frame brand recommendations and actual links to Aleisha’s favorite frames of all time after buying them for years, you’ll find all of the information you need below!





When picking out frames for your artwork, the first order of business is to decide whether or not you want your artwork to have a mat around it. This will ultimately help you determine what size frame to get. Below, you can work your way through the info-graphic that Aleisha created to help you make your decision!


Infographic hand-illustrated by Aleisha Nelson — Art By Aleisha, LLC


Um.. what is a mat? Let me show you some examples.

We’ve framed two of Aleisha’s map prints below in different styles so that you can see the difference. On the left, you’ll see that the Los Angeles print is in a matted frame (this means there is additional space around the art print. The “white” area between the art print and the wooden frame is the “mat.” On the right, you’ll see that Aleisha’s Copenhagen Map Print goes right up to the edge of the wooden frame. This is an example of a frame that doesn’t have a mat.


Art By Aleisha’s Copenhagen Map Print in a NON-MATTED FRAME — Photo by Art By Aleisha, LLC

Art By Aleisha’s Los Angeles Map Print in a MATTED FRAME — Photo by Art By Aleisha, LLC



When you first walk into a framing store or Google frames online, you might have a bit of sticker shock. When this happens, you might opt for the cheaper options on Amazon, but with that comes the risk of a very cheap quality frame being delivered. I’m talking about the kind of frame that’s made entirely of plastic.. the frame AND the “glass” in it. You may encounter issues when trying to hang the frame because sometime the cheaper options don’t come with hanging hooks on the back (which means you’ll have to dish out more money just to get the frame onto your wall).
After buying frames for various gallery wall projects at home, for art gallery shows, and for craft fair events I’ve done — I’ve curated a list of my favorite brands and specifically my favorite frames. They’re affordable and I’m so impressed with their quality. These are the places (and the exact frames) that I used to frame almost all of the artwork you see below in my Living Room’s Gallery Wall.



    This is my #1 go-to for buying frames, specifically their Made By Design brand frames. They are available at GREAT low prices and they have some of the best quality I have seen (at this point in time, they’re the cheapest ones I can find without sacrificing quality in any way) . I love their white and black frames (and you can see them being used in the photo of my gallery wall above.) Sometimes I also go with the light brown wood frames that Target sells (which are similar to the ones you see in many of the product images on my site).

    Target also has great gold colored frames that look beautiful when framing one of my custom, hand-painted maps with gold borders. It makes the heat-embossed, metallic edges on the map really pop on your wall.



    This is my second pick for shopping for frames when you’re looking for a good deal. At first glance, Michael’s frames can seem expensive, but if you Google around for some discount codes online then the price can be cut in half. I do this all the time and I’ve never really had a hard time finding discounts online. If you’re really on a budget, buy one frame at a time and use the 50% Off One Item coupon you get from your previous purchase on the next item.

    Michael’s has SO many frames to pick from and they have different styles too. Whether you’re looking for more of a woodsy farmhouse aesthetic or a more modern one, they typically have some really great options for every kind of shopper.



    Framebridge can be quite a bit more expensive, but when you’re working on a project where you need a custom size or you have some original artwork that’s made in an unordinary size, then Framebridge has your back. Their site is super fun and I love how modern and unique all of their frame options are. If you have the money to spend, you can’t go wrong with this option.



    Pottery Barn has really great, high quality frames. When you’re looking for a specific wood color, they’re the perfect option. They’re a bit on the pricier side, but when you need to match an exact color scheme it can be worth the cost. You’ll never sacrifice quality with PB, so I always encourage people to take a peek and consider it as an option before knocking it off the list.



So you’ve decided whether or not you want a mat and you’ve decided what size frame you want. You also know where to start looking… but when you get to the search page, BE CAREFUL. I am including this part not because I want to scare you (haha), but because I’ve been fooled by it myself and if I can save one of YOU from making the same mistake, then this was worth it. Let me explain in detail:
EXAMPLE: Let’s say I have an 8”x10” Art By Aleisha Map Print and I’m looking for a 8”x10” size frame so that I won’t have a mat around my artwork. I head to Target’s website to start searching, and I find this product:


The title of this product is “8”x10” Matted Wood Frame White - Made By Design” which makes ME think that this is a frame that is 8” long and 10” wide and will fit some artwork that is either that exact same size OR smaller than that, likely a piece that’s 5”x7” or so. So this frame is perfect! BUT WAIT… when I scroll down and click “About This Item” and look at the actual dimensions, I find that it’s actually 19.02” Long and 15.04” wide. Much larger than what I want. So now I realize that this frame will fit an 8”x10” print with a 3” mat around all sides.
MY FRIENDLY WARNING TO YOU: Just be careful when searching for frames and relying solely on the title. Make sure to always check the product specifications and make sure the dimensions match exactly what you’re looking for. I would also suggest not worrying too much about the size of the actual mat in the frame. This one above, for example, has the perfect mat for an 8”x10” art print. But I’ve purchased this exact frame and I sometimes will put an 11”x14” print in FRONT of the mat (against the glass) and it still allows for some space between the artwork and the edge of the frame. You can always go to Michael’s or a custom frame shop to have them cut out a custom size mat to fit your frame + artwork.


Art By Aleisha Santa Clara University Campus Map Print Framed with a Mat

Art By Aleisha Los Angeles Map Print Framed with No Mat



Below is a list of links to the frames that have become my all-time favorites. I use them for almost any project I do when I’m not looking to spend a ton of money, but still want high quality frames made with glass and wood or metal (not plastic). Let’s keep this list between us, okay?! Because if these go out of stock… I’ll know why.



(They come in various colors — white, black, gold, and wood)

8”x10” Matted Frame (Frame Dimensions: 15”x19”) — Made By Design, Sold at Target (Perfect for 8”x10”, 9”x12” AND 11”x14” size art prints. I use this frame for my 11”x15” Hand-Painted maps too, I just put the map in FRONT of the Mat!). Click here to View this frame on Target.com.

11”x14” Matted Frame (Frame Dimensions: 20.4” L x 16.4” W) — Project 62, Sold at Target (Perfect for 8”x10”, 9”x12” AND 11”x14” size art prints. I use this frame for my 11”x15” Hand-Painted maps specifically, especially ones with gold borders since the frame makes them stand out more on the wall!)

Click here to view this frame on Target.com.

Frame Dimensions: 12”x15” — Made By Design, Sold at Target. (Perfect for 8”x10” and 9”x12” size art prints)

Click here to view this frame on Target.com.



Frame Dimensions: 12”x15” — Made By Design, Sold at Target. (Perfect for 8”x10” and 9”x12” size art prints)

Click here to view this frame on Target.com.

11”x14” MATTED Frame (Actual Dimensions: 21.02” (L), 17.01” (W)). These are great for 8”x10”, 9”x12”, AND 11”x14” prints as well as hand-painted maps in 11”x15” size. The wood color of these in my experience is much lighter than what they look like online, but I cannot guarantee that they are all made the same).

Click here to view this frame on Target.com.

Frame Dimensions: 16.87” L, 20.87” W (Mattedd to 8”x10”) — other sizes available, including options for Square prints.

Click here to view this frame on Target.com.



Great price for a set of 3 frames. They come in different sizes, so they’re perfect if you’re trying to buy frames for a gallery wall.

Reminder: Always make sure that the 3 sizes will fit the artwork that you have.. OR buy these first, then find artwork in the exact sizes to fill them!



Click here to view frames on Pottery Barn's Website!

If you made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read this guide. I hope it helps you in some way to create the perfect wall of art in your space. I cannot wait to see what you create! Have any other questions? Send us an email at contact@artbyaleisha.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can! 


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