Tag Archives: print racks

Matting supplies: Clearbags, mats, double stick tape and print racks

Matting supplies: Clear bags, mats, framing supplies, double stick tape and print racks

Clear Bags:

www.clearbags.com – These are the clear plastic sleeves that go over matted prints and come in a variety of sizes for most needs.

To be cost effective, you usually need to buy in quantity’s of 100 in each size needed. Listed below are some common sizes to fit 5 x 7 ClearBags (cards),

8 x 10 ClearBags, 11 x 14 ClearBags, 16 x 20 ClearBags and18 x 24 ClearBags matted prints in quantity of 100 from Amazon. Amazon also sells in quantity of 25 in many sizes. Clearbags come in a variety of size and different types of bags for jewelry or many other products that you may sell.

While I recommend the quality of Clearbags, if you have a Hobby Lobby nearby you can purchase smaller quantities locally at a reasonable price with their one item for 40% off coupon they have (Crystal Clear bags link).

I recommend the bags called “Protective Closure”, for matted prints, which are the ones with the adhesive strip on the bag. I do not recommend the bags with the adhesive strip on the flap because the print will stick to the flap when pulling out the print. The clear bag shown to the right is over a matted print before the top flap is folded to the back.

You can see a short video showing the protective closure Clearbag here.


I usually purchase my mats in bulk. I always have my outside mat dimensions at a standard frame size but my inside opening is custom sized to display as much of my image in the 2 x 3 proportion I print at. Many artist select the mat color of white, but some use a black or colored mat. I currently use Antique white with a white core. I recommnet using white core mat for artwork. White core mats will show a white center that you see in the inside cut beveled edge. White core has only a slightly higher cost and avoids seeing that more yellow or off color on the inside cut beveled edge found on cheaper mats.

When I list a mat size for the customer, I give the mat outside dimensions and not the picture opening size which I feel is standard in the industry. This better allows the customer to know the size of frame the matted print will fit in. In general, the more you purchase in quantity of a given size, the larger discount you get. Since mats in bulk can be heavy, take into consideration the mailing cost. Some places may seem more expensive but include the shipping into the price.

You can get custom mats cut at Mat board Plus or Dixie Matting listed below as well as many other suppliers.

Matboard Plus: Matboard Plus  Wholesale matting at good prices.

Dixie Matting:   www.dixiematting.com   Wholesale matting – good prices. Call Bevin to order.

Purchase Pre-cut Mats:

Another popular option is purchasing matting kits that contain a quantity of pre-cut front mats and matching rear backing mats as well as sleeved bags. These matting kits come in a variety of pre-cut mat sizes as well as quantities. You can also purchase the pre-cut front and backing board seperately.
Amazon: US Art Supply and Golden State Art (Pre-cut art mat link).

Some common mat kit sizes: Pre-Cut 8×10 Mats

, Pre-Cut 11×14 Mats

, Pre-Cut 16X20 Mats

and Pre-cut 18×24 mats.

Sample 16 x 20 mat kit:

High Quality Acid-Free Pre-Cut 16X20 White Picture Mat Matte Sets. Includes a Pack of 25 White Core Bevel Cut Mattes for 11×14 Photos, Pack of 25 Backers & Pack of 25 Crystal Clear Plastic Sleeves Bags.

Some common pre-cut front mat sizes (acid-free with white core bevel):

8×10 mats ,

11×14 mats ,

16×20 mats and

18×24 mats .


Some common 4 ply backing boards sizes:

8×10 Backing Board ,

11×14 Backing Board ,

12×18 Backing Board ,

16×20 Backing Board and

18×24 Backing Board.


Framing Suppies:

Some of my favorite framing supplies are shown below. One is picture wire in bulk that is vinyl coated which is much easier to work with and will not hurt your fingers when winding up the ends.

I also find that using D-rings and matching screws work well to wire the back of a frame with the vinyl coated picture wire.

Over my art work table, I use a larger protective green mat that is very cut resistant and come in a variety of sizes. I have used an X-Acto knife cutting mats on it for many years and it still looks good. These mats not only provide a flat surface with a grid pattern to align things up with but keep your art table from being cut up.

You can never have too many picture hangers. The picture hangers come in a variety of weights to hang frames of 10 lbs, 20 lbs, 30 lbs and heavy frames. When you sell a canvas or framed print, it is nice to supply the customer a picture hanger along with the purchase. This allows the customers to be able to hang the artwork when they get home. The brass ones make a nicer presentation.

Many artist use hinging tape to attatch the front mat to the backing board and self sticking mounting strips to attatch the artwork to the backing board. Click on the photos below for further information.


ATG Gun with double stick tape and photo corners:

You can purchase the (Scotch ATG 700 Adhesive Applicator link)
and (Scotch ATG 1/2 inch 36 yard double stick tape link)
from Amazon by clicking on photos to the right.

This device makes it easy to dispense the tape to your mats allowing you to quickly put your front and back mat together. I found that this tape gives you the opportunity to separate your mats if you need to reuse them without any damage.

I use this applicator device and tape along with the photo corners shown below for a great combination in my matting method. This tape is also convenient to tack on your artist bio page to the back of your matted prints with a small amount of tape on the bio page’s back four corners. See video below on how to use photo corners.

One of my favorite products is Lineco Archival Polypropylene 1-1/4″ Full-View Mounting Corners (250 corners). These make matting my 16×20 prints or smaller much easier and faster. These require very little white border or image space of your print and you can easily remove your print from the corners with no damage and reuse your print or the mat.


Print Racks:

art display rack

The small and medium print racks shown to the right, that I use, are very common at art shows. These print racks are reasonably priced and can be purchased from Jerry’s Artarama (print rack link). Other print racks can be purchased from Amazon as shown below.

I also purchase better quality rubber leg tips from Home Depot (print rack rubber leg tips, 4 pack link). Amazon also sells in larger quantities (1-Inch Rubber Leg Tips, 24-Pack link).
These give the print racks more stability on uneven ground and only cost slightly over $2.00 for a set of four. These higher quality rubber leg tips work well to replace the original plastic leg tips when they break off or you can fit them over the existing leg tips on a new print rack.

One advantage of using print racks is that you can place a lot more art in a smaller area. While you may have some of your art on the walls, you could have many times that number of art pieces in your print racks or print bins. In my case, I have most of my photography images matted and placed in print bins. A painter could also make prints of their paintings and place them in print bins. Having prints of your art can also add another pricing option to your customers who can not afford the originals.

I have seen other artist put original paintings in print bins with a foam core or cardboard backing and clear bag. I recommend to artist that put original art in the print bin to state that it is an original painting or your art medium name on each piece. This is so the customer does not confuse an original with a print. Basically any art medium that is flat in nature and can handle customers repeatedly flipping through the different pieces would work well in a print rack.

A special note on print racks, you do not want the type that comes to a V point at the bottom as this damages the prints. The print racks with a flat base are much better on this and also hold more prints. Most artist use the canvas print racks but they also come in wood. You can use a small print rack to place mats about 11″ x 14″ in size and display on a table top. A medium floor standing print rack will hold 16″ x 20″ mats with the jumbo print rack holding larger mat sizes. You can also use the jumbo print rack, shown to the right, to hold panoramic prints or a combination of mat sizes together such as two columns of 16×20 prints next to each other. I prefer the canvas print racks that fold flat for easier storage. One recommendation is to tighten the screws on these canvas print racks every few months during the season since they tend to get loose, fall out and it is hard to find replacements for these screws.

Above are a few examples of two medium sized print racks and two large or jumbo print racks available from Amazon.

Do not overcrowd your print racks with too many prints. Sometimes more is not always better in displaying art. If you have too many prints, then pick out a combination of your favorites, newest or best sellers to be included. With too many prints, you not only can damage the prints but it may be hard for the customer to see the whole image if not enough of an angle or space is permitted for optimum viewing.

Another option for displaying 11″ x 14″ matted prints or other similar small mat sizes, on a table top are using rectangular baskets that you can find at a variety of stores such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. These baskets are often on sale for 40% off or you can bring a coupon for 40-50 off that these stores offer. To make sure you get the right size basket, you will need to bring a sample mat to the store and try it out in the basket to make sure works for you. Some people make their own custom wood boxes to display matted prints.


Art shows: Selling matted photographs

Selling matted prints:

I sometimes print new images in the smaller sizes, mat them and place them in the print rack. I then see what the customer response is.  If a specific art piece gets a good response or sells in the smaller size, I then print that image up in a larger size.

You do not want to make 2 or 10 of the same images and size with the idea that if you sell one you have a replacement so you do not run out.  Start off with one or one of the same images in two sizes to see if it is popular with the customers.  If you have a selected group of photographs that sell more often, then I would have a spare replacement print for just those images. For full time traveling artist, you need to have more duplicate prints.

If the customer is looking for a smaller or larger print of a photograph they see, let them know you can custom print it for them and mail them the print.  In this situation, I charge a reasonable shipping cost. Many people traveling do not want to carry larger artwork with them. If they live out of State and you mail it to them, you most likely do not need to charge sales tax which makes up for the additional shipping costs. You just cannot keep every image in stock of all sizes.  The availability to print on demand and this mailing option is how I handle this.   Larger prints can be rolled up in a tube for mailing and do not need to be mailed flat.

On special orders sometimes custom packing and mailing can be time consuming and expensive for larger flat prints. If the customer is local, I find it more convenient to make an appointment and just drop it off at their house. The customers do not seem to mind and still pay a delivery fee that is equivalent or less than any shipping costs.

Sunrise at Mesa Arch








How many different sizes for matted prints:  The general rule is that you do not want the sizes to be too close to each other or the customer will most likely select the lower cost smaller size.  For photography, the size usually refers to the outside mat size and not the print image size.  Popular mat sizes are 8×10, 11×14 and 16×20 or 18×24 and larger.  If you sell note cards, you may not sell many 8×10 matted prints since the note cards are cheaper and may be close in size.

If a customer wants to only purchase the larger matted print they see in a frame.  I am happy to remove the frame and sell them the matted print only.  Many customers know they can frame it themselves at a lower cost or they may prefer another frame color or style. Take the money for the sale and then let the customer know to come back a little later and you will have the matted print ready for them to pick up. It helps to have a few Clear Bags of various sizes for this purpose since most shopping bags are not designed or will fit large flat art items.

I see many artist display matted prints in a print rack or other container and have many of them on their side so the image is not upright. Many artist seem to be OK by this and even if they notice it do not correct the situation even when the container will fit the prints in both directions. I feel it is always better for the customer to see the artwork as it would be displayed on a wall. For some reason, this bothers me since I have never been to a gallery and seen work displayed on its side. I recommend as part of your final setup check that you go through your print racks and look for sideways prints.

Sometimes when I exhibit my art in alternate gallery locations such as a coffee house or other business, I may have two different prices on a framed art title card, one price for the artwork framed and a lower price for non-framed. I am in the job of selling art, not frames and I try to be flexible when it comes to trying to meet the customer’s needs and price points.

While most artist sell matted prints with the standard 4-ply mat board backing, some do use 3/8″ foam core as the backing behind a matted print. Foam core is thicker and with the total combined thickness of the top mat, print and the foam core backing, the matted prints will not fit into many standard frames that the customer may purchase. The ability to not use a frame that the customer bought because the print matting is too thick, could upset the customer and cause them to purchase a more expensive custom frame.

I feel that using foam core backing makes the prints in the print rack seem more high end for some reason and could be beneficial when just used as a support backing, in a clear bag, to an unmated print or original painting that is not attached to the foam core. Another issue with foam core is that you can not get as many prints in the print rack since they take up more room.

For matted prints which could include photography or other mediums such as matted watercolors or prints of paintings, I try to keep the outside mat size to a standard frame size.  If they buy a matted print for $70.00, they may be upset if they need to spend another $135.00 on a custom frame at twice the price of a standard frame. A happy customer is more likely to be a repeat customer that might start collecting your art. As a selling feature, I often inform the customers that my mats are a standard size and this gives them the option to purchase a less expensive ready-made frame instead of a custom frame.

Unsold Matted Prints:

How I handle matted prints that have not sold: I currently have three sizes of matted prints and refer to my 11 x 14 mat size here in this example. I currently carefully take the prints out of my 11 x 14 mats that have not sold for a while. The actual image is 7 x 10.5 being printed on 8 x 12 photo paper. I then reuse the old 11 x 14 mat (top and backing board) by placing a new print image in the mat and protect it with a new 11 x 14 Clear Bag. I use archival double stick tape to hold my mats together and it is possible to just run your finger between the two parts of the old mat and separate the two pieces without harming the mat. Since the cost of the mats is more than the actual print image, I can save a lot of money by reusing my older mats that are in perfect condition.








I used to write, with a pencil, the image title on the lower left section of the mat below the image. This caused a problem in which I could not reuse the mat with a new image so I no longer do this. I now have the image title on the Bio information sheet on the back of my matted prints. I still have my signature on my mat fronts but that only limits to the image replacement to be of the same vertical or horizontal format.

What I do with my old removed prints: In this case the outside photo paper dimensions are 8 x 12 with a 7 x 10.5 image showing with a white border. I ordered some Clear Bags in the specific size of 8 x 12 and also ordered some 8 x 12 mat backing board. I simply take the Clear Bag and put in the backing board and print and seal the bag. I place these prints in a separate bin and sell them for $19.95 instead of the matted version which sells for about twice the price.

I find that this helps sell my older prints and also give the customer, on a lower budget, another price point that might work for them. You can also use this method of selling prints with no top custom cut mat and just a backing board and Clear Bag for odd sized prints such as panoramic’s or just larger prints such as 16 x 20 size or larger. Some customers purchasing larger unframed prints would be interested in handling the framing themselves.