Wednesday, May 18, 2016

It All Comes Down to the Paper

Darren White Photography
Darren White Photography
A task like choosing photography paper as a novice — or even as a seasoned professional — can be daunting. There are many materials to choose from along with finishes, shades, and textures. Luckily, we have many customers who can provide excellent recommendations based on years of experience.

We talked to Darren White, a well-known photographer who’s been at his craft for almost 20 years. White has some great suggestions for selecting paper and using American Frame’s resources to build your photography business.

Falling into your passion

You could say White began his career at a young age: At just 12 years old, he started taking pictures while skateboarding around town with his friends. By the time he was 18, he was getting paid to photograph sporting events, weddings, and family reunions. These early jobs enabled him to build his business and work in a more artistic direction. Now 99.9% of the work he does is in the area of his passion: landscapes.

On his reasons for pursuing photography, White says, “What drew me to doing what I do now was the beauty of our world — how I see it, how you see it, and how we all see it differently.”

For this reason, White takes special care to give his customers unique and powerful experiences with each photograph.

“I try to give people a sense of place and a sense of emotion so they feel something when they look at my images. We can all appreciate how beautiful our world is, and we all know it needs to be documented.”

Paper pleasers

When it comes to printing paper, White’s selections are as unique as each photograph. He mixes it up among the Canson Baryta, Moab Lasal, Epson Hot Press Bright, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, and the Epson Somerset Velvet.

“I can honestly say that I don’t have one single favorite. Each image lends itself to a different paper. I do like the Baryta papers for their slight sheen and texture, but not all images work on those papers.”

How do you pick which paper will work best? As with all things, it depends.

“It boils down to the image itself,” says White. “Is there water in the photo? Is it moving or still? What colors are present? Are they warm or cool tones? What about light — is it day or night? It completely depends on the effect you’re going for and the elements you want to bring out.”

Testing the waters

With all of those variables in mind, it can be difficult to know where to start. White suggests taking advantage of American Frame’s free printing paper samples. This testing service gives him the opportunity to see how each paper performs.

American Frame, left, has no glare from the matte paper.Competitor, right, has glare from the matte paper.

“You can take one image and print it on any given paper. But if you want the best, you need to print on the right paper that’s going to perform the best for that image.”

And sometimes, it’s trial and error until you get the hang of it.

So why does White choose to go with American Frame? He says he likes the ease of the ordering process and the quality of the prints.

“After I got my very first images back, the image was spot on.”

However, what really sold him was the customer service

“When I had a question, a real person answered the phone and took the time to talk with me. I never felt like I was in a phone queue or asked to be put on hold — that is just miles above and beyond the other labs that I’ve worked with.”

Darren White Photography

Make sure to take a look at Darren White’s incredible work on his Facebook page, where he also has a very informative side-by-side comparison between American Frame and a competitor. We are honored to have talented artists like White working with us and look forward to more opportunities to bring the beauty of the world to life for customers around the world.

Ready to print but not sure where to start? Check out American Frame’s printing paper samples or give us a call at (800) 537-0944 and we can help you get started!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Moms Flourish in the Artist's Studio

Mother’s Day is upon us, and we at American Frame are excited to share with you the story of one of our dedicated artists, Cady Driver. Specializing in watercolor and ink, Driver has built her career while raising three children in her North Carolina home.

Driver began painting at just 17 years old. She started with acrylics, focusing on crafty projects like painting dishes, stools, and furniture. When she began having children, she focused more on painting murals and donated her talents to local hospitals. About eight years ago, she moved on to watercolors and began selling her paintings as well as teaching classes. She even has an Etsy shop where she sells her own adult coloring book pages! Driver is dedicating the proceeds of her artwork sales to fund the adoption of her fourth son, Alexander, a special needs child from China who will join his family in Raleigh later this year.

According to Driver, her business really took off about three years ago when she started getting her work in galleries and doing shows, occasionally winning prizes. She says this is really the key to starting an art career.

“For an artist, the hardest thing is just getting your name out there along with your work,” says Driver, “so you really need a venue where you can be part of shows that are going on.”

Being a mother and an artist poses a very specific challenge for many women, and Driver is no stranger to this. She had three kids in three years and says that, while she never viewed being a mother as a burden, she did work hard to maintain consistent schedules to ensure she had time to paint.

“I remember when they were younger, I’d either always take time in the afternoon when they were napping to at least work on some aspect of my art or I would just incorporate them into what I was doing,” Driver says. “If I was painting, I’d get them a canvas or finger paint in the driveway with the hose. They loved it!”

Her family is a huge part of Driver’s inspiration and process. Many of her works feature her family or the families of those close to her.

Her advice to mothers who are working toward careers as artists is to take full advantage of every moment they can find. When Driver’s children were small, she would take a travel paint pallet to the ballet studio, bring her sketchbook to the park while they played on the swings, or practice drawing while she waited in the car during other extracurricular activities.

“Take your sketchbook with you everywhere,” says Driver.

Ready for your next framing project? Free shipping on orders of $125 or more!* Contact us at (800) 537-0944 or AmericanFrame.com for more information!

* One coupon per order.

Creating your own space is important. Driver suggests that artists carve a room out where they can have all their materials set up and ready to go when inspiration strikes.

Carving out time for themselves is also difficult for mothers. For artists, it can be especially hard to justify spending time and money on art classes when they have dance lessons or basketball uniforms to pay for. Driver suggests bypassing that entirely, making your artistic passions come to life in the time and budget you have.

“We used to live next to an art institute, and every time we drove by, I thought of how badly I wanted to be an artist and how expensive the classes would be,” Driver says. “Then one day, I decided that I could teach myself. So I went to the library to pick up books, I bought supplies, and I’ve been painting ever since.”

We’re very excited to be able to support Driver in her career with custom frames that make her artwork stand out.

“I do have to say that without American Frame, I definitely wouldn’t be able to afford framing my art for gallery shows. I absolutely love their products and I recommend them all the time to their artists and my own customers who need to frame art,” Driver says. “Every customer that I ship unframed art to gets one of their fliers in their shipment.”

Be sure to visit her website to view her amazing pieces at artbycady.com. We wish Driver the best of luck in her art career and, most especially, with Alexander's adoption! We hope to see her growing family continue to inspire her work!

Happy Mother’s Day!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Enjoy Eco-Friendly Framing


We are artists. We consistently reach beyond our consumerist natures and see the effects of our actions and habits. We feel connected to the environment. We have innate desires to preserve and protect the world around us, which gives us such inspiration.

Wall Gallery Framing


To support this effort of conservationism, we carry a number of eco-friendly frames in collections like Basic, Infinity, and EcoCare and we participate in eco-friendly programs and business practices.

Green frames

Eco-friendly FramingWe have found that, though many of our customers desire to buy more environmentally friendly products, many are unaware that these frames are available to them. We keep our standards high, considering each piece of the frame — from wood to glue to finish — before labeling it eco-friendly. Of the frames we offer, there are two main types of eco-friendly frames: wood and aluminum.

For a wood frame to be labeled eco-friendly, it must

  • be manufactured out of solid wood,
  • be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC),
  • have a non-toxic finish, and
  • have non-toxic gessos.

While not often thought about, aluminum frames are the most eco-friendly frames you can buy! Aluminum frames are

  • 100% recyclable,
  • the number-one most environmentally conscious mouldings you can choose, and
  • 100% archival.

Maintaining our commitment to environmentally conscious initiatives, we aim to stay local. 80% of all our frames are made in the United States. Products made in America are held to higher environmental standards in manufacturing than in other parts of the world.

Green process

To be truly eco-conscious, the process has to match the hardware. That is why we challenge the industry standards. Our suppliers are almost exclusively American, and our production and process are focused on the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Certified Carbon Neutral Shipment
Unique in our industry, we participate in the UPS CarbonNeutral Fund. Every package we ship is carbon neutral.

From our door to your wall, we are committed to environmentally conscious framing.

Do you frame your photos in “green?” Comment below to share how you invest in eco-friendly framing and decor!

Ready for your next framing project? Check out our eco-friendly frames! Enjoy enjoy 15% off everything sitewide! Use code "LOVEYOURART" at checkout.* Contact us at (800) 537-0944 or AmericanFrame.com for more information!

* One coupon per order.

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Design a Gallery Wall

Designing your own gallery wall may seem daunting but can actually be a simple, fun, and rewarding project. With the right tools and mindset, you can create your own home decor statement piece that will complement any room.

Choosing a layout


Assuming you have decided on which artwork and items you want to use, you’ll want to plan how they will be organized on the wall.

There are many types of layouts but, for the most part, they fall under two categories: modern and eclectic.

  • Modern — A more traditional look with a distinct shape, a modern layout is uniform and linear.
  • Eclectic — A varied look, an eclectic layout is not limited to paintings or photos. Feel free to mix shapes, mediums, colors, and depths.

If you choose a modern style layout, you will want to create a symmetrical, grid-like gallery wall. The matching frames will be about the same size and be organized in a structured pattern.

Today, we’re going to show you how to take a more eclectic approach. There is a lot of flexibility in an eclectic style layout. The frames don’t necessarily have to match each other in size or style, and they can be arranged in any way.

Creating your gallery wall


Creating an eclectic gallery wall is simple enough with some planning and the right tools. Because it is a varied style by nature, it won’t be uniform. Mike Cromly from Ask Mike says that it’s best to try to visualize the wall before you begin adding nails and hanging hardware. We’ll take you step-by-step through the whole process!

1. Plan the arrangement.


Photo 22 002

Place your artwork on the floor in front of the wall you’re going to use as your gallery wall. This allows you to see the space it will be in but also gives you the flexibility to move your pieces around until the whole group fits together best. We suggest starting with the center focus piece and organizing all other pieces around that.

2. Trace your frames.


Using kraft or newspaper, trace the outline of each piece of artwork and cut out the shape. Refer to your floor layout, and tape each cutout on the wall in the same position. This allows you to focus on the overall effect of the arrangement.

3. Arrange and rearrange. 


Photo 22 003

Once your paper cutouts are taped to the the wall, arrange and rearrange if necessary. Don’t be afraid to move things around! It’s best to play and move things around now before placing the final nails and hanging hardware.

4. Replace the paper cutouts with your artwork.


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After the previous steps, actually hanging your artwork is simple! Once your layout is the way you want it, go ahead and start replacing the paper cutouts with your artwork.

5. Admire your eclectic gallery wall!


Photo 22 009

Congratulations on creating a statement piece for your home! We can’t wait to see what you have created. Share this post and photos of your finished gallery walls using the hashtag #framinghappiness.

Happy framing!

Ready to start creating a gallery wall? Contact us online or give us a call at (800) 537-0944. Enjoy 20% off American Hardwoods and Standard Plus 3 frames. Shop the collections here.


Mike
So, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, and with custom frame-shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35-plus years with the company. A natural teacher, Mike loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there! Working in the plant to improve our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man, and Ohio State Buckeyes fan. Follow him on Twitter @AskMike400

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sophistication, Presence, Drama: Try the 8-Ply Mat Board

You make many choices when putting together the framing concepts for your original art. Your artwork is meaningful to you, and we want to help you get every detail just right. Selecting a frame has its own list of variables to choose from, but we’ve found that artists tend to find themselves most confused when it comes to choosing a mat board.

To guide you through your options, we will cover the qualities, effects, and applications of the mat board of choice for most veteran framers: the eight-ply mat board.

What is an eight-ply mat board?

The word “ply” refers to the number of layers of material used to make a mat; an eight-ply mat board is one of the thickest options for DIY framing. At American Frame, the material is constructed from either 100% cotton or treated Alpha Cellulose.

Great American Art suggests eight ply for professional artists because it is rigid (at double the normal thickness), acid-free, lignin-free, alkaline-pH buffered, and resistant to bleeding and fading.

What are the benefits of an eight-ply mat board?

The eight-ply mat board is all about drama. Its 45-degree bevels, approximately three-sixteenths of an inch wide, accent the extra-thick core, making this mat board ideal for pieces that benefit from bold and enigmatic displays.

From a functional perspective, eight ply is constructed for conservation of your work, relieving you of concerns about fading, bleeding, and other types of material degradation. It also provides a solid base for custom framing in larger works of art.

When should you use an eight-ply mat board?

Because of its optimal archival protection, Great American Art recommends eight ply for rare, antique, and historical works of art and paper documentation. It is also the option of choice for watercolor paintings in art galleries and museums.

Visual comparison of a four-ply mat (top)
 to an eight-ply mat (bottom)
The thickness of the material tends to take up a significant amount of space in the frame channel (or rabbet), so you should consider using it as a single mat board. It typically can’t be layered like six- or four-ply mat boards can. If a solid, dramatic, polished look is your goal, eight ply may be the best choice.

Also, keep in mind that with a thicker mat board, you’ll need to calculate your measurements correctly. The thickness of the mat board needs to be added to the thickness of your artwork, acrylic glazing, and mounting board, then measured against your frame’s channel.

Visit us online to look at our current sale on our varieties of eight-ply mat boards! We carry five AlphaRag eight-ply mat boards and two in the AlphaEssentials collection. We offer free samples to help you properly prep for your next DIY custom-framing project. Contact us at (800) 537-0944 or AmericanFrame.com for more information!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Don’t Hide Your Art! Frame for Minimalism

Office_005-resized

Eye-catching. Simple. Timeless. These three words capture the essence of a design style that has spanned the centuries: minimalism. Minimalism has been applied to a wide range of art forms, from graphic design to sculpture and photography, and it has a particular role to play in art frames.

What is minimalism?

Minimalism looks exactly the way it sounds. It is characterized by overt simplicity, pronounced contrast, and lots of open space. According to Design Shack, here are a few basic principles of this design theory that will guide you in your framing:
  • Limit yourself to one central visual; your artwork should not compete with the frame, the mat, or any other supporting elements.
  • Focus on content; everything about your framing should drive the eye toward the main subject of your artwork.
  • Stick with sans serif typography (if used).
  • Aim for grid-based images to keep the artwork simple and organized.
  • Let your artwork breathe — cluttering in color or imaging is a no-no.
Office_009-edits copy-resized
Images from photographer Darren White, framed with Ridgeline frames.


What does a minimalist frame look like?

Several types of frames lend themselves to minimalist design. Because this timeless style requires the use of only the absolute basics for functionality, avoiding ornate or detailed frames is a great start.

SP_04SP_09

Keep it simple. Although metal custom frames tend to work best in minimalism, any sleek wood, like a frame from our American Hardwoods Collection, can work as long as it doesn’t distract from the artwork. You may find yourself assuming that thin frames are the way to go, and you wouldn’t be wrong — thin frames tend to work best. But a thick frame can serve a minimalist purpose in the right context as well.

Wider mats are common simply because they add space and breathability to the artwork. Pale-toned linen mats and mats in varied shades of white will simplify the look as well. When selecting colors, consider the elements of contrast and keep in mind that the frame shouldn’t overshadow the painting. And always keep the color palette of the display location top of mind.

What types of artwork are best for this style?

Luckily, minimalism lends itself to a range of art styles; it all comes down to how you pair the painting with the mat and frame. Empty Easel suggests that for a more edgy, contemporary art tends to flourish with plain geometric frames, whereas portraits and landscapes can achieve minimalist looks with more traditional frames.

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Images from Stephen Petegorsky, framed with Standard Plus Three frames

For maximum compatibility, consider ordering a custom frame designed to your specifications. Remember, your overall goal is to stick to the bare bones basics so the eyes of your viewers will be drawn to the elegance of your artwork.

These guidelines will give you an excellent starting point, but ultimately, if you can meet the overall goals of minimalism — simplicity, contrast, and focus — while breaking some of the specific tenets of the design style, your artwork will stand out for its own beauty and worth.

Ready to try your hand at minimalist framing? Ridgeline frames are now 20% off, with free shipping on orders of $125 or more!* Contact us at (800) 537-0944 or AmericanFrame.com for more information!

*One coupon per order.

Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to  "A Good Frame of Mind."  Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

4 Creative Techniques for Framing Watercolor Paintings

Framing watercolors gives the artist opportunities to be creative with the final presentations.  Luckily, there are plenty of ways to frame your watercolors and get the effects you want. We’re going to cover four of them, and they’re so simple, you can do them yourself!

1. The deckled edge
To showcase the deckled edge of the paper, we will want a narrow mat that doesn’t cover the edges.

First, we’ll mount the watercolor to a piece of no-cut mat board using float hinges (V-Hinge or S-Hinge) using archival or acid-free tape, or your preferred method to give the watercolor a “floating” effect within the mat.

image-10

We will then place a second mat board over the watercolor, raised on a spacer. Thin strips of foam core are mounted to the back of the mat board using archival or acid-free tape. The foam core strips must be cut thin enough so that they don’t come to the edge of the mat board.

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The second mat board with the opening cut is laid over the top of the artwork and the spacers. The second mat does not cover the edges of the artwork, as is typical in traditional framing, so as to showcase the deckled edge of the paper.

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2. Float mount with spacers
Again, use archival or acid-free tape to float the watercolor on a no-cut mat board. Since we aren’t using another mat board to separate the acrylic from the artwork, we will attach Econospace Spacers to the back of the frame. It is important to keep a little space between the artwork and the acrylic because direct contact can damage the watercolor over time.

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Watch this video to learn how to use the spacers:


3. The minimizer — minimal buckling under a raised mat
If you’re looking for the traditional mat look, use this method to make sure you capture the watercolor — without the watercolor buckling.

Mount the watercolor using a piece of mounting board and archival or acid-free tape, as we did in option 1.

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The second mat will cover the edges of the paper like you would see in standard framing. Because watercolors are created using so much water, the paper is typically wavy and buckled. To minimize that buckling, we raise the mat board above the artwork using homemade spacers. To create the spacers, attach thin strips of foam core to the back of the mat board using archival or acid-free tape.

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The spacers allow a little room between the mat board and the watercolor, lessening the effect of the paper’s waviness.

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4. The shadowbox effect
The shadowbox effect is created by again floating the watercolor on a no-cut mat board, but it is also raised.

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To achieve this raised, floating effect, the artwork is attached to a piece of foam core that is smaller than the artwork, again using archival or acid-free tape.

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The piece of foam and the artwork attached to it are mounted to the center of a no-cut mat board.

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Additional strips of foam core, faced with strips of mat board, are then attached to the rabbet of the frame. Make sure your frame is deep enough for the artstack and the strips for the shadowbox style.

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All stacked together, the “artstack” is what creates the depth in the frame and the shadowbox effect.

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Any of these methods will protect your watercolors in style. Need more help? We’re here for you! For detailed steps on how to secure and frame your artwork, see the “How to Attach Artwork in a Framing Treatment” post from our blog, Good Frame of Mind. Happy framing!

Ready to start framing your watercolor paintings? We have you covered. Check out our framing accessories and tutorials to get started! Let us know if you need any help by calling us at (800) 537-0944.



So, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, and with custom frame-shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35-plus years with the company. A natural teacher, Mike loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there! Working in the plant to improve our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man, and Ohio State Buckeyes fan. Follow him on Twitter @AskMike400.
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