A few months back, I was contacted and given the incredible opportunity to try out American Frame’s website, service and products! Turns out, they had spotted one of my posts talking about printing and framing landscape photography, and figured that I would appreciate what it is they have to offer. So, I wanted to take a moment to share what I thought.
Now to give you an idea of where I was starting from; When they contacted me, I was in the middle of printing matting and framing 25 pieces for a personal show I had coming up. I had pages dedicated to pricing, options, bulk-purchase discounts and more that I had spent days putting together. I had called big internet stores, local wholesalers and more trying to find the best deals coupled with the best possible look and quality as well. Given the time I had spent calling, asking, finding out where discounts start (etc) I doubted that American Frame would be able to offer custom framing (already cut to the sizes I needed), in the styles that I wanted, with competitive pricing. Boy was I wrong.
One of the first things that stood out to me when looking into framing art with American Frame’s services was how intuitive their website and custom framing web services were. In my opinion, most framing websites seem to offer similar products, but the websites themselves are antiquated and almost necessitate a phone call just to make sure you’re deciphering the codes correctly. Furthermore, once you’ve selected the frame style, it’s even more cryptic to figure out the exact sizing you need things cut to. Should you tell them 16×20 and then print your photo slightly smaller? If you order a 16×20 frame, will they put two and two together and either cut the mat board just a tiny bit smaller to fit well inside or will they possibly make the frame a fraction of an inch larger? Framing is a total devil-is-in-the-details type of thing, and the other websites offer little or no help. With American Frame, you start your custom framing process by either uploading the photo for them to print (the system then helps you pick the possible sizes and intelligently lets you know if your resolution won’t support that size) or for those of you who print your own work – yours truly – you can specify the final size of the print and then the system will build the rest of the frame in steps around that size.
One of the things which struck me while I was working through the custom framing art process on American Frame’s site was that it had tamed all the details for me. All the work I had put into knowing that the frame should be 1/4in larger than the finished piece, and knowing how to map out where and what size to cut the opening in the mat, wasn’t needed when using their custom system. It did it for me. In fact, by the time I was done, I had a frame sized exactly how I wanted it, along with a mat (custom cut to my specs, and on a mat of my choice) along with an archival mount board and all the tools and accessories I needed to install my print shipped to me. It was an extremely quick, simple and straight-forward process.
Now, here’s the kicker – from start to finish, the process cost around $6 more per frame. On a project of 25 frames, that means a difference of $150. However, if you’re casually framing art or even doing a project where your putting together several pieces, the slight extra cost totally out weighs the extra work when doing things completely on your own. Plus, there were times where my measurements weren’t perfect or I’d cut my finger and get blood on a perfect mat and would have to buy a new piece, so the simplicity of getting everything precisely packaged and cut is awesome. I will definitely be using American Frame again in the very near future.
Of note: American Frame seems to have a much larger inventory of frames that I remember seeing elsewhere. Also, if you are having them print your work for you, you can request proofing of both the color & the resolution. These are invaluable, especially when making larger displays. You can order a very high end type of acrylic to be delivered with your frame or can have it delivered without glass and get your own piece locally. Unfortunately, but for obvious reasons, they won’t ship glass. Lastly, while they offer all of the standard mats and mount boards, options are available at every turn for things to be upgraded to acid-free, archival and museum quality pieces.
Definitely a great experience and given what I have tried so far, I would highly recommend American Frame and their custom framing service for anyone looking into framing art of their own.