Designer Confessions: Why I Stopped Going to the Framer

I frame all my own artwork and save lots of money doing it.

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There is something special about a beautifully framed piece of art with the perfect mat in an eye-catching frame. The skill and artistry that's required to successfully frame a unique piece of artwork is no joke, and I appreciate and truly admire this sort of talent.

Many designers would not even consider ever doing anything with their artwork other than having it professionally framed by a skilled artisan in a frame shop. I’m just not one of them.

Photo by: Graphic: Erica Reitman

Graphic: Erica Reitman

With few exceptions, I stopped going to the framer years ago. Here’s all the reasons why.

I Don't Like to Wait

Patience is not a specialty of mine. Perhaps it was living in NYC and having the ability to have almost ANYTHING delivered to my door in less than an hour that officially ruined me, but yep: I’m officially ruined.

In my experience, typical wait times at frame shops were usually a week to two weeks. And I get it: it takes some time to frame a picture properly. But I just couldn’t play the waiting game.

I Often Buy Less Expensive Art

While I'm lucky enough to have some beautiful, more expensive pieces of art, much of my artwork comes in the form of inexpensive prints. I love to order artwork off of sites like Etsy or Society 6, and I also get a steady stream of artwork from my little nieces. I don’t often find that this sort of artwork commands a custom framing job.

I Want Flexibility to Change My Mind

When you get a piece of artwork professionally framed, the idea is that the artwork will then live in its frame forever. The art and the frame get married, have kids and live happily ever after for as long as they live. This means that you can’t pop open the frame and switch out whatever is in there. Once it’s in, it’s in.

It's Way Less Expensive

Having artwork custom framed is expensive, and I mean no-joke expensive. The times I've had pieces custom framed, it either cost me as much as the artwork itself, or in several cases, even more. Now, of course, this will depend on how large your artwork is, as well as the type of frame, mat and glass you choose, but I can promise you no matter the choices you make, it will not be cheap.

I Get to Use My Instagram Pics

With the rise of Instagram and social media, our options for artwork are greatly expanded. Many of my favorite photos end up on my phone, and I love the idea of using an app or a service that can connect directly with my Facebook or Instagram feed and then print photos from there.

So, What Do I Do Instead?

Ok, so if I’m not going to the framer, what the heck am I doing with all my artwork?

I often purchase frames from Ikea and frame things myself. Ikea has a good selection of frames in all sorts of finishes and sizes at affordable price points.

I also sometimes purchase frames from big box stores like Target or Walmart. Keep in mind that these stores tend to have more of a selection for smaller items. 

I purchase framed art from flea markets and thrift stores, ditch the art and keep the frame. I often find pieces that have gorgeous frames but scary artwork. In those cases (if the price is right), I feel no guilt about throwing out the art and recycling the frame with one of my own pieces. 

I use an online service like Framebridge. I know you might be thinking, “I thought you said you don’t like to wait!.” And I don’t! BUT, sites like Framebridge make it super easy, as they allow you to upload your artwork and pick out all the details of your frame while wearing your PJs and sitting on your couch. While pricier than using an Ikea frame, it’s still way less pricey than going to a local framer.

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