How to mat a print for competition

If you are new to competing in Club competitions or even National competitions like the Royal Adelaide Show then you will need to mat your prints. Matting is that coloured solid boarder around the print.

First have your image printed. This is probably best done by a commercial printer, or ask around the Club for suggestions from other members. Alternatively you choose one near you by searching the internet. They will offer standard sized prints and it is probably best to stick with these sizes until you become more accustomed to the process. The smallest size for our Club competitions is 5" x 7" (13 x 8cms) and 8" x 10" and  8" x 12" are the most common.  Choosing "Lustre" paper usually gives a good finish for competitions.

If you have your images printed on a regular sized paper, most commercial printers will be able to supply you with a mat of the appropriate size for your print. You will be able to buy mats online (EBay) a bit cheaper. If your print is 8" x 10" then buy an 8" x 10" mat etc, etc and the image will sit behind the mat perfectly this is because the opening in your mat will be marginally smaller than the size of your print. Black coloured mats are most commonly use followed by white. The choice is yours.

Turn your mat

Vince Calo Rachel 8 Colour Print Open A Grade How to mat a print for competition

over so it is face down and with the back of the mat facing upwards. Buy some 20mm wide masking tape from Officeworks or you you local art supplier and apply it carefully all around the back edge of the opening of the mat. This continuous strip of masking tape remains in place for the life of the mat and is never removed. It becomes the surface onto which you tape everything else. If you do this you will be able to reuse your mat with another images at some time in the future.

Align your print and lay it over the opening in your mat. Tape down two opposing corners. Carefully turn your print over and make carefully make any adjustments to the alignment within the mat until you are satisfied. There is usually a few millimetres of tolerance to move the print if you wish. Once you are happy with the alignment of the print within the mat, turn the mat over again and run another strip of masking tape around your print. This time make sure the masking tape straddles both the print and your first layer of masking tap. Note that the second layer to tape is quite easy to move from the lower one and the print if you want to disassemble the print and mat.

Next print a label to adhere to the back of your print. This is best put in the top right hand corner. This label should include the following information.

Title of the print: "Kangaroo in a red jacket"
"mono" or "Colour"
The category you have entered the print in. "Set" or "Open"
Your grade: "A" or "B" grade
Your name: "Ace Photographer"