Best selling mat color?


PFG, Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
Nov 19, 2002
United Kingdom, West Sussex Coast. (Bottom centre)
We spell it 'colour' BTW (we also say 'mounts' not 'mats')

I've noticed, from many posted photos on TG, a lot of dark coloured mats, along with dark frames, especially on 3-D objects such as medals.

A lot look great, but a lot also would not be my choice, or that of my customers.

I would say that 90% of my work goes out with a neutral mat, colour is only added as an accent - e.g. the inner of a double (etc) mat. I like the frame to contrast with the mat. Dark mat - light frame and vice-versa. Practically everything for sale in the shop has a neutral mat.

A light mat does not compete, a (very) dark mat can give a 'spotlight' effect.

Would this be your choice for the same combination of items, or would you use a dark blue/whatever?

What is your best selling colour anyway?

Mine is alphamat artcare 'IGLOO'
Artique Onyx

On black and white photography I always show an off white mat with black inner mat or a fillet like you have done. IMHO if the white mat is too bright, it makes the whites in the photo look dirty.

You did a perfect design for the subject matter.
I have become very fond of Igloo as well - I would guess that at least 75% of the matting going out of my shop is white/off white/cream or neutral (sand, sandstone, etc.). With accent color in the inner mat or the frame or both.

I have taken to stocking only whites, neutrals and blacks - the rest I can order one sheet at a time - don't have a lot of storage space at my place and I am fortunate enough to have a supplier who delivers twice a week.
Shar [the owner for 29 years] and I have agreed on this from day one...

If the customer wants a white or slightly off white mat, they had better bring a 9mm or 45cal along and stick it to our heads. Same holds true for NG glass.

Years ago the LA Art Institute did a study in the local malls. All the same picture: Mary Cassatt's "after the bath".

In booth one: Narrow black frame, wide white mat.
Booth two: Wide black frame, narrow white mat.
Booth three: tastefull colors to blend with the picture, and a sweet moderate antique gold frame.

When quizzed later, the people remembered the mat and frames of one and two... but nothing about the picture.
Booth three they remembered vivid detail about the picture.. nothing about the framing.

Imagine their surprise when all three are revealed at the same time.... and they realize it's all the same picture.

Thats all I'm going to say.... like heck...

Would have looked a heck of a lot nicer the same gray as the Field Coat. Fabric would have been even better. More jingle to your pocket too.
As Nona says, "light advances; dark recedes" Whatever we design, the mat is darker than the art. Not by much, but darker. That way the art is the lighter, and it 'advances'. I also prefer a neutral top mat and color as accent. I can be persuaded to other choices. But stark white or black only if the customer begs... I also tell customers that the reason why art competitions call for white or black mats is that those do nothing whatever to enhance the art. I can make mediocre art look a lot better given free rein, so imagine what I can do with good art like this!
I have a display setup in my shop. It is 8 copies of an 8 x 10 of The Girl with the Pearl Earring. It is plagues, metal no mat, various mats, canvas transfer, up to a suede mat with wide fillet. (The suede is black) Everything from off-white to color to black mats.

Customers like to study the display and tell me which they like best. This is done with no prompting on my part. With VERY few exceptions, they "like" the darker mats better.

The over-riding comment is that the darker mats make the light on her face and earring more visible.

I beleive, if you want to see the lighter parts of the image, use a darker mat. If you want to see the darker parts of the image use a lighter mat.

I always ask what it is they want me to make pop. Mat selection can easily effect that outcome.
Nice job, John!

My own preference is for dark mats so I probably would have suggested something a shade or two past the coat the soldier is wearing.

But I worry that it might look dated in a few years.

Your design is timeless.

Too late to edit:

John - You don't have to change your spelling just for us on the west side of the pond. Even Captain English knows what 'coloured mount board' is.

How about the darker mat on top? And with a soft neutral on the inside? Lots of off-white and tan 4 ply rag with no white bevel.

I find that putting the stronger or darker color on the inside is less popular with my customers.

I'd say that 95% of my double mats have the darker color on top (even if that is not a dark color itself).
It's good that there are so many different opinions. this is because there is no correct answer to the question "which is the right colour".

There is definitely an answer to which is/are the WRONG colour(s).

I have got more adventurous since I have been a grumbler - my best selling non-neutral colour is lunar grotto - looks for all the world like slate, also the black leather and rice paper effects.

But traditional things get traditional treatments, mostly, and traditions as well as tastes vary around the globe.

The flash makes the whites above more stark than they are. The medals and capbadges were the most important things on display. I think a grey would have lost the silver medal and badges, also the blue edges of the ribbons.

I don't lke putting more colour in the mount than there is in the picture and grey is drab, it sounds drab, it rains when it is grey and we had a Prime Minister called John Major once - the most 'grey' person in history.

Beige is worse than grey!

Margins around images such as around the photo and the text also influence choice. That photo, alone - and with no white surround, I would have treated totally differently.

The resume alone I would have either treated the same, or gone to the other extreme - very dark.

As it is, to me there are too many items and colours competing with each other, adding another colour to the mount would simply add more competition.

Originally posted by Jerry Ervin:
Artique Onyx

On black and white photography I always show an off white mat with black inner mat or a fillet like you have done. IMHO if the white mat is too bright, it makes the whites in the photo look dirty.

You did a perfect design for the subject matter.
Thanks Jerry,

On B&W photos as well as the above, I sometimes do a double off white mat, but the outer with a black core. Black core mat over a deep bevel or bevelled accent is also good.
B8605 4-ply white (for fabric covering)
B8431V Antique for embellishment of antique prints
B8488 Sand Dune & B8540 Tartan for golf stuff
Rising 8-ply Warm White for Black and White photo collections.
This link Is from another topic - shows a Larson Juhl Stradivarius frame with a blue suedette mat. I think it is ghastly! In fact same goes for every single piece on that link.

Forget the artwork - frame and mat don't work - for me.

Below is a selection from our ready made frames - made in-house (Anyone else making Stradivarius RMFs?) A photo from our (under construction) website.

I'd rather have that on our wall - with nothing in - than the one in the above link.

BTW Stradivarius minus the matching wreltney is a sin!

(Bar the photoframe in my photo of course!)