A recent installation of my art (above) was done with a technique that was new to me. To learn more, I asked expert framer, John Maurer:
What are the advantages and of mounting photos to the back of acrylic?
Design is the biggest advantage. The photos appear as if behind a lens, very clear and bright. Additionally, the presentation seems very clean and contemporary. There is really no cost savings, both the acrylic (it’s thicker than acrylic typically used in a frame), and the standoff support system are fairly pricey.
How do you adhere the photo to the acrylic?
There is a clear film that goes between the artwork and the acrylic. It appears to be truly invisible when done correctly. Only a glossy finish will work, and any bubbles need to be eliminated when mounting to achieve the perfect look.
How expensive is this compared to regular framing?
The cost is fairly comparable. As I mentioned above, the material is not inexpensive 3/16” – 3/8” acrylic is more expensive than 1/8”, and the standoff hardware is very expensive; approximately $30 retail for each individual standoff.
It looks like you need four metal brackets to hold the acrylic on each corner. Can you suggest an online source to find them?
There are many online sources. None of them are inexpensive. The source I have discovered after hunting for a long time is the cheapest by far and they are hard to find for a casual user. Given that I depend on reselling this product, I would be reluctant to give up this elusive European source.
Is there any downside to mounting photos to the back of acrylic?
This is no way to handle a collectible or valuable photograph. The process creates a “decorative product”. Additionally, the installation is more fragile than standard security mounts, especially because the piece is suspended 1.5” – 2” from the wall. This allows for people to reach behind the acrylic and that increases the potential to damage the installation. Cleaning is more difficult and can create stresses that endanger the installation. Finally, it is important that the wall color is attractive when seen through the acrylic. Color and pattern both need to be considered.
Anything else you would like to say about this?
I would only suggest using this technique in key locations, not as a general approach to “common area” artwork. Installation is much more difficult. We allow for twice the time per piece when installing and we have needed every minute of that additional time. Finally, due to the clear product, there is no room for error in your installation, every anchor you put in must match the acrylic, and they must all be neat and clean.
John Maurer is the President at Framing & Designs Inc. in St. Louis, MO. ARCH Framing is a wholesale artwork and mirror framing company that serves the interior design, architecture, purchasing, and artist communities.