Reflecting on the poster management exercise

Digitising all the posters, pictures, paintings and artworks has certainly been a useful exercise. It has:

  • enabled unwanted physical items to be thrown away;
  • prompted the permanent display of some paintings that had hitherto been stored away;
  • given visibility to items normally stored away from view, using free standard issue Windows 7 software;
  • prompted the purchase of a frame to rotate pictures through;
  • prompted the flat storage of some items that had hitherto been rolled up in cardboard tubes;
  • provided a digital record of our paintings of value for insurance purposes should that ever be required.

Since the numbers of items involved (in this case around 80) is relatively low, the whole exercise didn’t take long to do. However, as with all other digitising activities, dealing with a large backlog of material is always much more daunting and time consuming than simply doing it bit by bit as you go along. Now that the initial job has been done, the challenge will be to maintain the digital collection as new physical items are added and other items removed.

Displaying and rotating the physical posters

For displaying the physical posters, I decided to rotate them in a single frame and to store the bigger ones at the rear of the frame. I never got to see a Snap frame (which allows the front to be opened) and instead purchased a large 36 x 24 inch beech frame from the Frame Company for about £34 and £7 next day postage.  The backboard is secured to the edge of the frame by folding down 4 or 5 metal strips along each side, and I figured these would be flexible enough to accommodate the thickness of the 6 or 7 posters I wanted to store in the frame. This turned out to be the case – with enough room for a few more if necessary.

I duly constructed the montage I had been planning out of the colourful 10-20 year old covers of “Interactions” – the ACM magazine for the discipline of Human Computer Interaction (having scanned their contents it seemed a waste to just throw the covers away). The resulting 30 x 18 inch collage is quite informative and interesting but not particularly pleasing to the eye. Ah well, you can’t win them all. Anyway, at least it did provide a focal point and incentive for obtaining the frame – and it will only be on display some of the time as it takes its turn in the rotation of the posters and pictures through the frame – provided I do actually perform the rotation – only time will tell.

I didn’t really explore the use of Snap front loading frames for the reasons of cost, looks, the lack of any product to look at, and not being able to understand how multiple posters could be held securely (ie. without slipping down) while being stored behind the picture being displayed. Having said that, and despite my desire to try out storing posters/pictures at the back of a frame for rotation,  I do believe that probably the best way to store most posters and pictures is in a large art case – provided you can get one big enough to take the largest size poster that you have.

To emphasise the point that the purpose of the frame I have purchased is to rotate posters and pictures through it, thumbnails of all the posters and picture not on permanent display in the house, have been printed out and glued around the edge of the mount in the frame. In principle, one could select from the thumbnails, which poster or picture to display next in the frame. Although the net result is quite busy as you can see below, it does do the job. Perhaps it would look better with something other than the collage on display in the middle of the frame.

Digitising the Posters and Pictures

The digitising exercise has been very rewarding. All the posters, paintings and drawings in the house – some 80 or so items – have been reviewed and photographed. Some of the ones that had been in storage in the loft or elsewhere have been framed and put up on the walls. Items of more sentimental interest than physical value (such as graffiti on large wall sheets from parties held long ago) were photographed and thrown away.

Photographing the items proved relatively easy and quick to do using a modern digital camera and a white background, though two pitfalls were encountered. First, you have to be careful not to tilt the camera when above the picture otherwise the picture does not appear rectangular in the photo. Second, reflections are difficult to exclude when photographing framed pictures under glass. Despite these problems, however, the digital images are pretty good, so I turned my attention to using them to make the posters and pictures more visible in three different ways:

First, I put all 80 odd images into a single folder and specified that they be displayed in slideshow mode as the desktop background of my Windows 7 laptop.

Second, I specified that they be displayed as a slideshow as a screensaver in my Windows 7 laptop. I[ could also have specified that they be displayed as  within the Windows 7 Slideshow Desktop Gadget which appears as a small window  on the desktop – but I considered that to be overkill. Instead I use the Slideshow Desktop Gadget to display all the images in the My Pictures folder – very effective].

Third, I printed out thumbnails of each of the images not currently on permanent display in the house, to go around the edge of the physical frame that I’ve bought – more of this in a subsequent entry on displaying the hardcopy posters.

The net result is that the posters and pictures are all now highly visible – I see them everyday as I use my laptop. They are almost too visible, so at some point I may just display them in either the desktop background or the screensaver. However, the objective of making them more visible has certainly been achieved. Its to be noted that all three functions I’m using – Desktop Background, Screensaver and Slideshow Desktop Gadget – are all free pieces of software that come bundled with Windows 7.

An initial look at physical frames

In researching physical frames that are currently available I came across the following:

  • Movie poster frames that are front loading i.e. you don’t have to take them down from the wall to change the poster that’s being displayed. Around $85 for a 27 x 41 inch frame from
  • In the UK, front loading frames for business are known as ‘snap’ frames. An A0 (23 x 33 inches) snap frame costs around £30 from A 27 x 41 inch silver snap frame costs £35 (on offer) from
  • There are also swinging display racks in which you can have instant access to a large number of pictures. However these tend to be quite expensive. For example, a 50 picture system costs $695 from
  • I also came across variety of possible products in Staples including a Nobo flip chart board which you could use to suspend pictures on (somehow) at around £60; a Cork board (600 x 900 mm) at £44; an A1 clear presentation slip case at £5.50, and an A1 presentation case.
  • A standard frame of 36 x24 internal dimension, and a with a beech-type moulding measuring 40mm wide and 30mm deep, can be obtained for £33 from×24-frame-with-white-mount-cut-for-image-size-30x20_1.html
  • I did NOT come across any frame that also offered poster storage to its rear.

So, my conclusion after initial investigations of frames is that I need to decide between a snap frame which enables the contents to be changed while still fixed to the wall, or an ordinary frame which probably would look nicer but which would need to be taken down to change its contents. I think I’d like to take a look at a snap frame before making the choice.

The Poster and Picture Challenge

I have a variety of poster sized material stored away in tubes or rolled up in the loft. I also have smaller sized pictures stored flat in an art folder, and some acrylic paintings done on board. They are not on display because I don’t have room for them all on my walls – nor the money to frame them all.  Of course, they can all be photographed and then some of the originals could be thrown away (and I have already done just that a few years ago for quite a few of my poster sized items); but there are others that I want to keep in their original physical form. I would prefer all the originals to be stored unrolled and in an easily accessible place so that I can rotate their display in fixed picture frames already on the walls.

The solution seems to be in two parts – digitising (i.e. photographing) the posters and pictures and coming up with ways of displaying them to their best advantage; and the storage and periodic display of the physical items. To add a little immediacy to the physical display challenge, I have been planning to create a large collage for a while, and so I shall attempt to make the frame I display it in a rotating display unit suitable for displaying the other posters and pictures.The space in my study in which the frame will be mounted dictates the frame size – it cannot be bigger than 29.5 x 60 inches.

Another requirement which I’m going to bear in mind is that I’d like to be able to store artefacts and to display a subset of them at any one time. Perhaps the rotating display unit can serve this purpose as well.