Compiled by Cate Terblanche, Art Curator, Sasol Art Collection

Do you dream of winning the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition? Do you want to pursue a career in the visual arts?  Once again, we as Sasol are proud to be associated with the competition known for changing lives!   This blog will provide you with some insights into presenting your artwork in the best possible light, focussing specifically on framing of two-dimensional works.


Let’s be honest, the key to winning the competition is in catching the judges’ attention, and well.. to keep it.   In previous blogs, I have emphasized the importance of technical excellence, and conceptual correspondence.  In this blog, I will focus on how the viewer (aka judges) will receive your work, and how you can optimize this experience for them.

And therein lies a clue.  Experience..   For a moment, think about how you experience your favourite meal or snack.  Maybe an ice cream.   You notice a sign in a shop, then you start thinking about it, then you make choices (with a chocolate flake or not), then you buy it, you spend money on it.  You hold it in your hand and view it, that perfect moment before you dive into the first bite and taste the cold, sweet delight of that fabulous ice cream.   Looking at art is much like that.  You need to consider the whole experience.   And that experience extends to the framing and presentation of your work.


Presentation is often the last aspect of a work to be considered, once the work is completed and it needs to be exhibited, right?   But some attention to presentation at the start of the creative process could be beneficial.  You could even use the mode of presentation to extend the meaning of your work. A good example of this is the winning work by Andrea du Plessis, Paloceae Lupantozoa (2021).

Image:  Andrea du Plessis, Paloceae Lupantozoa (2021) Multimedia, oil on canvas, augmented reality interaction. 53 cm x 63 cm.  Image courtesy of Sasol Art Collection. 

On one level the artwork speaks to the relationship between the ‘traditional’ and the ‘new’, and by opting for a very ornate, traditional frame, the artist reinforces this idea.  The viewer then interacts with the work via their cellphone, which is a ‘new’ or contemporary method of framing and viewing  images, which sets up the tension between ‘old’ and ‘new’.

Framing also means that you are ‘putting a border’ around something, and in a way the demarcating it for the viewer.  In other words, you are saying ‘this is art, and this is wall (or not art)’.  Therefore, that border should receive as much attention as the artwork itself.

Framing (or the lack of it) in itself will not result in a work either being rejected or accepted.  Judges look at the work itself, the ideas and craftmanship embodied in the end product, but the way the work is presented to the judges can make a difference. 


  • If possible, have your work professionally framed.  Your framer should be able to advise you on the best type of frame for the work, as well as the glass to be used.    Avoid ornate and coloured frames unless it relates to the artwork itself (as in the case of Andrea du Plessis’ work discussed above).  White or black frames work on most artworks.
  • Avoid home-made frames and budget frames as far as possible. These frames often detract from the artwork due to the fact that they were not specifically made for the artwork, or the quality may be lacking.    If you cannot afford to have your work professionally framed, rather opt to have the work presented on a cardboard backing (not glued onto it), with a protective mount to protect the edges the artwork.  Remember to supply clips to hang the work from.
  • You can also cover the work with a transparent covering to further protect the work during transit.  This is quite important for photographic works and drawings which could easily be damaged if not framed.  Another option is to use a specifically made cardboard box to protect the work during transit. 
  • If you are using a cardboard box or alternative method to transport your artwork, ensure that you indicate this during submission as otherwise it will be assumed that the protective covering/box is part of the artwork, and will be judged as such.  Remove any protective coverings once the works have been received.
  • Paintings can be done on deep or shallow box-framed canvasses, which will alleviate the need for a frame.  Ensure that the canvas has screws and hanging wires attached to the back.



The act of signing of artworks deserves as much consideration as the choice of framing and presentation. Here are a few pointers:

  • When signing your artwork, keep in mind that your signature is not just a way of claiming authorship of the work, it also forms part of the artwork and part of the visual design.  Therefore, you need to consider its placement, size, even the colour used.   So often a good artwork has been ruined by the insensitive placement of the signature.   Your signature should never be the first thing a viewer notices in your artwork. 
  • Choose a colour which will not detract from the artwork.  For instance, using bright red paint on a reasonably monochrome work will visually overpower the work, and the viewer will not be able to appreciate the work for what it is. Gold embossed signatures (popular in some photography genres) should also be avoided for the same reasons.  When in doubt, remember that understated is best. 
  • If the overall visual impact of the artwork will be affected by a signature, consider signing the artwork at the back or in a non-visible area where it will not detract from the artwork itself.
  • Be consistent with how you sign your artworks, this helps to establish your signature and  artwork as part of your ‘brand’.



The purpose of framing is primarily to protect a fragile artwork, but it should be considered as an extension of the artwork.   If you cannot afford professional framing, opt for a protective mount and supply clips for hanging the work.



Do check out the other blogs in this series which focus on the main reasons why works are eliminated in the regional rounds, pricing your work and much more.  Make sure not to miss this! 

For more information on how to enter this year’s Sasol New Signatures Art Competition, visit our website and follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube.