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 ⊶ ACEO Framing Tips ⊷

three colorful ACEO paintings, one cat, one rabbit, and one moth, all anthropomorphic. framed individually in black, placed evenly spaced side by side horizontally

The vast majority of the hundreds of drawings and paintings I have created and sold over the years have been in a specific miniature format known as ACEO (Art Card Editions and Originals) also called ATC (Art Trading Cards), which is 2.3x3.5 inches or 8.89 x 6.35 cm. You can read about the history of this format at the Wikipedia article Artist Trading Cards if you're interested in learning more.

The size appealed to me for several reasons. Initially, there is the root of the movement to begin with, which seeks to make original artwork available relatively inexpensively as compared to larger pieces, so more people can collect and enjoy the creations. It also appeals to those who can readily spend more on drawings and paintings, as an extensive collection can be built without the need for excess storage space. Being a standard trading card size, useful items such as frames, albums, and protective sleeves were already widely available.
Colorful watercolor ACEO abstract of humanoid figure with spiderwebs fanned about and ball-shaped heads of spiders peeking from behind the top of the figure's head

Ultimately, I ended up largely staying with these dimensions for two reasons specific to my situation. Firstly, that creating in miniature form lets me rest my hand/wrist while working, which has become necessary due to neurological complications. Secondly, since I was originally working only out of Europe and most of my buyers lived far away, shipping larger pieces increased chances of damage in transit. Smaller pictures are relatively easy to pack and ship inexpensively in a manner that does not make them susceptible to problems from bending or dropping.

One perceived downside sometimes brought up by people new to ACEOs is that they are too small to display. This was actually a concern of my own as well when I first became aware of them, but I quickly found that this is not at all true if they are framed/displayed correctly. They can actually bring a much more interesting look to an empty space than a larger painting or drawing.

One thing to consider when you are starting out framing and displaying your ACEOs is how many you'd like to have in the designated space. Even a single ACEO can make a wonderful accent on a wall by framing and matting it with a large margin. The eye is drawn inward to the intricate little core of the display, piquing the viewer's curiosity and encouraging them to look closer.

A set of 2 or 3 framed in this way can quickly fill an empty wall with elegant design. But when hanging multiple ACEOs, smaller mats or even no mat at all can easily work as well. Again, it catches a person's attention and entices them to look closer at what tiny things are displayed so prominently in the room. black and white drawing of humanoid bird figure wearing only leg warmers, with large black eyes and tiny beak, standing on floor with lines like woodgrain, background is lorem ipsum text

Framing can even be done on a budget for just a few dollars, no specially cut mats or fancy frames needed. You will need:

- any inexpensive frames that you choose to go with your ACEOs (my go-to is 5x7)
- archival paper or card stock (on an extremely tight budget, any clean paper should do)
- double-sided tape
- ruler and pencil for precise measuring

There are a few general framing tips to be aware of before you begin. Avoid leaving fingerprints on the glass, artwork, or frame by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and not applying any substances such as hand cream afterward. If available, draw wearing gloves. Additionally, a clean cloth such as microfiber or one meant for cleaning eyeglasses or touchscreens can be used to wipe away and marks or dust. Look out for any noticeable fuzz or hair getting trapped behind the glass!

To frame with these supplies, simply cut the paper or card stock to fit the frame (eg, 5x7), mount the card in the center with double-sided tape, and frame. If the paper you are using is thin, you may want to use 2 or even 3 layers of it instead of one. You can even get a little fancy while on a budget, choosing a second color paper or card stock to cut a little larger than the card, evenly spaced on all sides, to give it an appearance of having a border. Black often works well if this is not the color you've already chosen for the background.

This method can also be used to display multiple cards in one larger frame, mounting them as a group evenly spaced from one another.

If you have any further questions about framing and display of ACEOs or any other art formats you've purchased of mine, feel free to contact me. I'm always happy to help collectors get the most out of my work.