The weekly Creative Critique—Live continues this week with our 4th webinar this Thursday, April 23rd…
Have you ever wanted to display your prints in a modern and professional looking way without incurring the cost of traditional framing? How about avoid glass and all of the problems it causes with glare and reflection? And best of all do it yourself at home? I certainly have, and the solution I’ve been using for a few years is Gatorfoam board.
Gatorboard, as it’s commonly called, is similar to foam core, but is much stiffer and stronger which is important to avoid warping over time. It’s also available in black which is ideal for a modern and clean look. I buy a version that has a self-adhesive side in place and avoids using sloppy sprays and other adhesives.
Mounting prints onto gatorboard creates a very clean and modern look without glass, and lets the viewer really appreciate the photograph and paper at the same time. It’s also relatively inexpensive (at least compared to traditional matting and framing) and can de done by anyone at home with basic tools. Foamboardsource sells photographer sizes, and a sheet of 3/16“ thick –13” x 19″ is about $10.
Now to be clear this is not an archival mounting process, since the print is permanently glued to the gatorboard. I’m ok with that because the goal, at least for me, is not to sell these prints, but rather to have a way to show my work without the high cost of framing and avoid the use of glass. This works great in places like coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, and other spaces that may want to have your work displayed. It gives the photograph lots of impact and avoids all the problems that glass creates such as glare and reflection. And there’s always the option of spraying the prints for extra protection from UV if you need it.
If during an exhibition someone wants to buy a print, I’ll take an order and make a print specifically for that customer. I don’t mount my prints on gatorboard for galleries and traditional fine art exhibitions because customers generally want to buy on the spot. But for informal or relaxed environments, this has been a great way for me to share my work – and people love the presentation. When I use a beautiful paper like Canson Platine Fiber Rag, this type of presentation really conveys the quality of the print as a whole without any barriers for the viewer. As a photographer and printer maker, I really love that.
This is also the way Canson Infinity mounts the prints in their booth for trade shows.
I’ve gotten lots of requests to show how to mount this way, so I made this video in my studio to show you exactly how to do it and what materials you’ll need. With a little practice, you can do this at home for any size print. In the video, I make a print that is 24“ x 36” and is part of an exhibition I have ongoing during the holidays at a local coffee shop. I’ll share more details about the exhibition soon. (BTW- I cover all of this and more in my Fine Art Printing Workshop.)
Here’s the materials list:
I hope you enjoyed the video and it was helpful. Any questions or comments? Please leave them below!
This Post Has 26 Comments
This is rather awesome! I am so doing this 🙂
Thank you very much, Robert. Well done.
I very much like the freedom this approach brings. No longer are margins DICTATED by matting. The prints just look nice. I have a mixture of ? and now ¾ aspect ratios from the OMD. Matting dimensions and purchases have been a bane to my enjoyment of printing.
Great timing Robert as I am working on framing some prints this way – too often my photos do not get printed due to the cost and hassle of framing. This method should work very well. In the video you mentioned that you placed your identity plate using lightroom. Do you have any info on how you did that in lightroom? I have been using photoshop to add text and borders to my photos and it would be nice to stay inside of lightroom for everything
Thanks for the feedback Paul – I’m working on a screencast on using Identity Plates in LR – watch for it in the next day or so…
Enjoyed your tutorial on the identity plate as well – Thanks….
Wow! Thanks Robert.
Great video and perfect timing. I was looking for a way to display some prints inexpensively and I am going to try this method. Thanks for your information and education.
Very timely video. Do you have a video on creating an identity plate in Photoshop (or Lightroom)?
Hi Peter – screencast on LR identity plates coming later today…
Thank you! Very Helpful 🙂
Thanks for such a great learning too, Mr Rodriguez. I’m going to put it to good use with all the after-Christmas sales at several online photography print stores!
Thank you, very nice demonstaration.
WHat paper did you use?
DO you know if Metalic paper is archival?
Can I use this method with Metalic Paper?
I use Canson Infinity paper, and in this video I used Platine Fiber Rag. I do not have any experience with metallic paper…sorry.
Nice but why so much side boarder? Looks awkward to me.
Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a enjoyment account it. Look complex to far introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how could we keep in touch?
If you print with archival inks and paper, why would this method not be considered archival?
Because the paper is coming into permanent contact with materials that are not archival or acid-free. Hope that helps…
A local frame shop says they mount on acid-free gator board and claim it is archival. Are some brands archival and others not?
Yes, as long as they use acid-free materials.
Was wondering how the gatorboard works on standard weight photographic paper in a smaller 12x 18 print size since the paper is not as heavy, more problems with wrinkles and bubbles ?
Thanks for the video, very helpful.
Can you talk about what techniques you used to mount the photos on the wall leveraging the wood spacers on the back?
Would this work for adhering 300 lb watercolor paper to the self-adhesive gator board?
Yes, I don’t see why not…the base of the paper I use is 100%, similar to a watercolor paper, so I would definitely try it. Good luck!
Thank you for the video!! I made 5D diamond portraits which are on a thick canvas and currently looking for a board to glue them on and minimize the weight since I am planning on creating a wooden frame on them.
Is the gatorboard the lightest material? Was also looking at PVC foam boards.
Again, thank you!!
Robert, really appreciate your site and videos. I attempted to mount one of my prints this evening as you describe and have a tremendous amount of bubbling across the entire 24 x 36” print. Is there something I missed or need to do in order to combat that? I followed your video to a T.
Your video about mounting prints on gatorboard has been very helpful. The use of printweights makes accurate placement of the print a snap.
One problem I have encountered with the gatorboard I use (13×19 size from Artgrafix): some (not all) of its edges are irregular and wavy, making for a less than perfect fit with my 13×19 prints. The 13×19 gatorboard size is somewhat hard to find. Do you know a source that carries the 13×19 and does a better job cutting?