6 Top Tips for Artists: John Jones on Artist Surfaces and Framing

by Cass Art

Choosing different surfaces for your art and getting your work framed can be something of an enigma when you're working as a profesional artist. 

Thankfully, John Jones is here to help! A Global Centre of Excellence for the Presentation and Protection of Art, John Jones was established in north London in the 1960s, and is a family owned and run business. With highly skilled craftspeople, conservators, technicians and designers, they offer bespoke picture framing, fine art conservation and collection management. 

John Jones also specialise in professional quality artist canvas, stretchers and artwork panels in both standard and made to measure sizes. Their bespoke painting surfaces are all hand-made by British craftspeople and can be ordered for delivery or collection from their London workshops. Their technicians can create customised canvases and panels in all shapes and sizes, un-primed, pre-sized or primed to your individual requirements.

We caught up with the professionals at John Jones, so they could give their top tips for artists looking to branch out with their framing and surfaces needs. Read on to find out more about what's possible, and whether John Jones can help you present your work in future.

 John Jones


1.     Artists wanting to sell their work should consider professional framing

Whether you are established, emerging or just starting out, artists should consider the frame and materials used as an investment in the longevity of the art, particularly if it is to be sold. Selecting a frame isn’t just about choosing a colour and material, and you can go into John Jones for a consultation so that they can spend time looking at the art and help you decide what is needed. 
They take time to assess its condition, considering how a frame can not only present a work most effectively, but also protect it from damage and degradation. It’s also important to consider where the work will be displayed: is it going stay in the same place for many years, will it be in a gallery, or will it be required to travel? All of these early questions guide you in choosing the right frame.

Artists and galleries have individual needs and requirements, whether it is about working to deadlines and budgets or designing something particularly unusual or spectacular for the artwork. All of the frames and artist surfaces at John Jones are hand manufactured and crafted at our studios in London and Hertfordshire, from simple wood and welded frames sprayed white or black for gallery work, to intricate designs and special finishes such as gold leaf gilding. A professional service like John Jones can also help you make very large scale frames; they have just completed framing for artist Martin Ramirez work for Frieze Masters, measuring over 6 metres long!

 John Jones

2.     If you are on a tight budget, consider constructing your own stretchers, without compromising on quality

John Jones are able to maintain the same level of high quality materials to suit a range of budgets. For example, you can have a prepared linen canvas ready to paint, hand-primed with acrylic primer and stretched over a large section tulip stretcher bars by experienced technicians – or you can have the same large section tulip stretcher bars with pre-primed fine linen, flat packed and ready to construct yourself for a fraction of the price. So really browse until you find a product that not only suits your artistic practice, but also your budget. 


3.     Consider your style and medium when choosing canvas

Firstly, artists should consider the style of their work. Do you apply thick layers of paint in an impasto, fine detailed brush strokes, or anything specific to your practice? What size and shape do you require? What medium will you be using? This will determine the weight, texture, and finish of your canvas. Secondly, consider where the work is being made, and where it will be displayed. Linen, while a traditional choice for painters, maintains a tendency to expand and contract in different humidity and can often cause the canvas to go slack if not treated in the correct conditions.

Canvas and frames 

4.     Research alternative options to traditional canvas

Outside of the traditional canvas materials, there are other options, including Polyester that can be stretched to mimic Linen or Cotton Duck. As Polyester is a man-made material, it will not breathe in fluctuating environments and conditions, meaning it is a great choice for artwork in public spaces, large artworks and circular canvases. There are also painting panels made from wood or aluminium, either unprimed or primed with a variety of finishes. These are a great choice for artists who require a rigid surface, and for those who want their work to exist as an object.

John Jones workshop 

5.     Seek guidance from the experts

John Jones has a team of experienced technicians and consultants, many who are practicing artists themselves with a real interest in the client's work and finished product. Tell our Artist's Surface Consultant about your work and they will recommend particular products to help support and progress your practice – sometimes it’s best to try something completely different!

Circular Canvases 

6.     Experiment with unusual canvas shapes for high impact

There's a huge variety of different shaped canvases such as hearts, vector-diagram circles, triangles, multi-faceted shapes and more. One of the most interesting at John Jones was a large arched canvas to be fitted into a mansion in France! Think about what you need to make the work shine, and know that with the right help, you can make things possible.

Feeling inspired?

Visit the John Jones website here. You can also find case studies on John Jones website showing special projects.

You can shop for linen and cotton canvas at Cass Art.

Images all © John Jones, London

Back to blog