I have been around as long as roaches. Not really, but I have been in business for 27 years, and I still ask myself, “Why am I still here?” I know I still enjoy what I do, and the occupation seems to keep re-inventing itself. I find I do things, now, that I did all those years ago to get started. I have lived through 4 good competitors, 2 art supply stores, and two now defunct franchises that did what I do with a national advertising firm behind them. And, I’m here, growing every year, a little older, and a lot more savvy in my field.
I recently read an article written by a friend of mine, Ken Baur, talking about this same question in a recent issue of Picture Framing Magazine (Fall, 2013). Ken has been in business as long as I have, and has a wonderful following at his stores located in Northern Indiana, Framing Concepts. He has the following to say:
“Have you ever wondered why there is still a demand for your service? There are now many more options to fill a person’s walls; pre-framed art and the ability to produce one’s art through technology has caused a less demand for the professional framer.”
There are two reasons Ken points out: One is the ability to preserve what people cherish. After 27 years, I have seen the industry change in many ways. Picture Framers are no longer people you go to in order to put something on the wall – after all, you can go to the local discount store to put great images into a room. But those that appreciate the security of custom framing as a preservation practice realize the importance of what a true framer can do. And that creates a relationship. And trust. It established a value in the cost of your product. I agree with his findings. I can do a cheap frame job – I haven’t been in business all these years because I’m over-priced. BUT, what I do is establish a value: your memory is worth standing the test of time. My knowledge in the latest products and technology preserves that memory. All for a little more than that box shop.
The second thing that Ken states as to why a professional framer still exists is great design. The saying “Been there, Done that” comes to mind. I have framed so many christening dresses and hockey jerseys I could cover the planet. With every dimensional object I’ve done, the changing environment in framing practices makes it even better than the project done before.
At McMillen’s this year, the crew and I have decided to take a lesson from Ken, and are going back to filling the walls with ideas. So many people equate mat size with price – the bigger the mat, the more the job. Little do they realize that that larger mat can add a whole different perception to their piece.
I like how Ken ends his article with this final statement: “Custom Framing doesn’t exist because it’s a low cost way to decorate. Clients don’t value custom framers because they do something cheap; They value framers because custom work preserves what they cherish and it helps display it like nobody else can.”