Earlier this month at the NYC Affordable Art Fair’s fall edition, CH favorite Shantell Martin was the official artist-in-residence, taking her black marker to the walls and floor of the programming lounge as well as displaying her own pleasantly priced illustrations. The frame choice couldn’t have been more perfect: the white mat and slim, deep frame really focused the spotlight on Martin’s black-and-white artwork. Thus brings up the question that plagues art and design lovers after they’ve bought a beautiful new piece: how to frame it without breaking the already-hit bank, and quickly? The answer might lie in the young company that actually framed Martin’s pieces at the fair. Using an e-commerce model, DC-based Framebridge offers custom framing at a much lower cost (clearly marked from $39 to $159, which includes free shipping both ways)—so you can finally de-thumbtack that beautiful artist scarf from the wall and give it a proper, protective display case.
The process is simple as selecting a frame style, then receiving a special package to mail your art over—free of charge. You can even upload images directly—including favorite Instagrams from your personal feed—and get them framed as well. “You know, one thing we’re surprised not everyone realizes about us is that everything about our design and framing process is truly custom. One of our designers opens and photographs every piece, reaches out to the customer with any questions or suggestions, matches the art to the perfect mat shade—we have a whole spectrum of whites and off-whites—and measures the art to the sixteenth of an inch,” Tessa Wolf, Merchandising & Operations at Framebridge, tells CH. “Then our production team cuts each component of the frame—foam core, matting, moulding, acrylic, etc—to the exact specs set by the designer and assembles it by hand with extreme care. It’s really special to see how many people personally touch a frame before it ships back to the customer.”
With all this attention given to the artwork, how is Framebridge able to offer a lower price for their service? “When you go to a custom frame shop and choose the materials for your piece, the framer doesn’t even order them until you leave,” says Wolf. “Because they’re buying in such small quantities, their materials costs are very, very high, which is reflected in your price. We chose to limit the mouldings we use to a selection of our favorites and go with only the highest-quality mats, foam core and acrylic that are traditionally up-sold to you at a frame shop, making decisions easy for customers. We buy everything in large quantities, so we’re able to deliver the same highest-end service and product you could receive anywhere at a much more accessible price.”
And if you’re considering framing something with atypical dimensions, that’s no obstacle at all. “We’ve framed some really interesting things lately,” says Wolf. “A huge fishing lure, a deck of tarot cards, monogrammed wedding tux appliqués, 52 hotel key cards, and a caviar tin were some of the more physically interesting projects. We’ve also framed some truly special sentimental moments—my favorites were drafts of a company mission statement, early product sketches and prototypes, and scavenger hunt directions that were used in a proposal.”
Shantell Martin images by Nara Shin, all others courtesy of Framebridge