Monthly Archives: November 2011

Yuki Matsueda’s art won’t conform to your walls!

3D is the ubiquitous gimmick of the day. It haunts us everywhere, from movie theaters to museums. Gosh knows that we’ve featured a slew of artists who’ve employed it in drawings and other media. Yuki Matsueda doesn’t make three dimensional art so much as he makes 2D art that can’t be contained. His work is literally jumping off the wall and his solution is to encase it in clear acrylic. Whether it’s the diamonds on a playing card or the stick figure on an “exit” sign, they’re frozen like a fly in amber. It could be argued that Matsueda’s objects seek to escape the glass prison of their own frames. But we think it’s just plain cool.


Clark Little’s stunning shorebreak photography

Clark Little is currently the foremost shorebreak art photographer. His images are spectacular in how unreal and other-worldly they appear. It’s amazing enough when you consider how difficult it would be to capture these moving giants in their split second of glory from a distance. But for Little to get the trademark angles displayed here, he has to be both of the wave and in the wave! In these first 3 pics, you can see him stalking his prey.

And here are some of the breathtaking results.

He recently published a coffee table book with over 100 of his photographs, The Shorebreak Art of Clark Little. But make sure you’ve got some shelf space – the sucker is 12″ X 12″ and weighs almost 7 pounds. No surprise tho’ that the publisher needed something that hefty to hold these gorgeous pictures.

The world’s biggest 3D street painting

Joe Hill and Max Lowry are professional street artists who make anamorphic paintings all over the world. A lot of street art in this style has been cropping up on the internet lately, often very impressive. There’s no computer manipulation or camera trickery – it’s all about forced perspective and carefully planned arrangement. They have to be seen from the proper angle in order for the effect to work, so still photographs are a great way to view the paintings. Recently, “3D Joe and Max” were commissioned by Reebok to create a Guinness Record breaking painting. They accomplished the world’s longest and largest 3D painting in Canary Wharf, London. Check out some of their earlier work after the video.

4 Reasons why custom picture frames are a better value than ready made frames

Quick! You need a frame for your most recent family photo so you can give it as a gift when you get to the holiday party – what do you do?! Grab a ready made frame off the shelf at Target on your way, right? Wrong-o-mondo! It certainly seems like the way to go because they’re cheap and accessible, but that knee-jerk reaction is only going to bring heart ache and headache, either in the future or as soon as you try to put your image in the frame. We’re going to give you the ins and outs of custom vs ready made frames so there won’t be any guess-work when you’re checking gifts off your shopping list this season.

The 4 ways that store-bought frames fall short of custom frames are appearance, size, construction, and versatility. These 4 qualities may sound highfalutin for your typical snapshot. We often hear the phrase, “It’s not like it’s a piece of art.” Well, maybe it’s not going in a museum, but you made it important when you decided to display it in your living space or give it to someone to hang in theirs. So rather than waste $20, spend a little more to do it right. Here’s why…


Ready made frames are going to look like just that. They don’t look unique and that laminate finish just gave it away like free perfume samples at Macy’s. You’ve got a better selection when you go with a custom frame and therefore a better chance of finding something that looks great with the image you’re displaying. A custom choice also means you’ll get the right…


When we say “size”, what we really means is “shape.” Sure you can find a frame big enough for whatever you’re framing, but is it the right shape? Frames on the shelf come in predetermined shapes. You may get lucky and find your image is already a standard shape. But be careful – if you use a frame that’s the same size as your photo or art, that means there’s no room for a mat. Our customers have already learned that a mat is important for more than just looks. The mat is what keeps the glass from touching your art. Glass can stick to or otherwise damage what you’re framing and it starts to look bad. A custom frame allows for a uniform amount of mat space all the way around your art. Ready made frames that come with a mat are disproportionate – there isn’t the same width of mat on the sides as there is on the top. That’s weird – no one would ever do that by design. Next time you see one, check it out.


This is a big one, because it’s probably the quality that’s going to fail the fastest and in the biggest way. Ready made frames simply aren’t made as well as a custom frame. We can’t tell you how many times customers have brought us broken glass because the ready made frame fell off the wall. Or it fell for a different reason and the frame itself didn’t survive. This can be because of the way they’re hung on the wall. Store-bought frames rarely take a wire on the back. Instead they use one of the metal clasps shown below.A true wire that can be attached to a custom frame is going to not only make it more secure, but much easier to hang.Whether it’s wood or metal, custom frames are joined differently at the corners. Take a look at the back of this custom frame’s corner. It’s made of real wood and there’s enough of it so that several nails can be used to hold it together.Custom frames are more sturdy. The nice thing about that is that you can put lots of different kinds of art in them – they have more…


If you ever have to frame something that’s not just paper or a photograph – something thicker or heavier or not made of paper – you’re not going to have much luck with a store-bought frame. Typically, they’re too shallow. Look at the channel of the metal frame on the left vs the open back of the custom wood frame on the right. That metal channel has to hold the glass, your art, and the backing at least – your art, a mat, and any additional support might take up even more space. Even if you pick a ready made off the shelf that’s wood, it’ll likely have a closed back with clasps or springs that limit how much material you can fit inside the frame. Often times, when photographs are printed, they’re mounted on a board. However thin that board may seem to you, fitting it in one of these frames is gonna be all but impossible.

There ya go. A crash course in why most ready made frames are probably the last thing you want to put your art in. If you keep this in mind during the holidays and use custom frames, you’ll impress a lot of people on your shopping list. And if you’re framing something for yourself, you’ll be impressed every day you look at it hanging on your wall.

Oh, Senseless Drawing Bot – what inspires you?

Senseless Drawing Bot is a collaboration project + installation created by So Kanno and Takahiro Yamaguchi with metal works supported by Hitto Asai. It appeared in the exhibition “UTOPIA no OSHIRASE” in Tokyo this past September.

This work takes advantage of the chaotic motion of the double pendulum, drawing an abstract and dynamically line in real time using a spray. It is a self-generated drawing machine. Consisting in a double pendulum, a motorized skateboard modified to determine the orientation of the pendulum by the rotary encoder attached to the fulcrum of the pendulum. Its operation is simple. In this work, has been recognized worldwide as an expression of modern “graffiti” in the act of graffiti called to eliminate the claims and the human body, by extracting the dynamism dwells in the rendering process to mimic the act. And improvisational, may sign, by presenting only the aspect of elements such as vandalism, explores the nature of this act where it is integrated, tries to connect to a new interpretation. – So Kanno

Greg Brotherton’s dystopian sculptures will mesmerize you

We guarantee a completely unproductive hour or so of your online time if you go to Greg Brotherton’s website. His eerie sculptures, of which there are many, are practically hypnotic. You’ll find yourself trying to put these mechanized creepy-crawlies into some kind of context or narrative, which isn’t hard to do. They could be a prehistoric ancestor from the dreams of Edward Gorey and William Gibson. Telephones, antique cash registers, beer taps, and other repurposed objects are all fair game for Brotherton. Brotherton claims his work is “mythological in nature, revealed through a dystopian view of pop culture.” He also confesses that it’s compulsive. We like how he captures that in the way the different figures seem to spread out, morphing away from the various outmoded devices.

A long time ago in a custom framer’s far, far away

“He’s a card player, gambler, scoundrel. You’d like him.”
Okay, before we get all Star Wars intensive and bore you with quotes, here’s what we’re talking about. A customer brought us an 8-page comic book story starring Lando Calrissian – the Billy Dee Williams character from 2 of the Star Wars movies. This was a stand-alone short story that appeared in one issue of the anthology series, Star Wars Tales. A noteworthy tidbit is that it was done by Gilbert Hernandez, a writer and artist who’s well-known in the comic book world for the acclaimed independent comic book, Love and Rockets. He’s rarely known to work with any characters other than his own.
Just so we’re clear, these are the original pages that the publisher used to print the story. They’re hand drawn, hand inked, and hand-lettered. As we were working with them, we marveled at all the little details that could be seen on the paper; errors that had been whited-out, non-repro blue pencil corrections, and guide lines in pencil that the letterer used in the word balloons. The pages are on bristol board and about 11″ X 15″ each.
Along with our customer, we decided that the best way to frame the 8 separate pages was to put them in 2 frames, 4 pages each. This way, they could still be read in sequential order and it would mimic the look of panels on a typical comic page.

The story is light and humorous. It depicts a young Lando and his droid assistant out to collect a reward from some aliens who are being terrorized by a giant monster. Lando is convinced that the mission will be a piece of cake, but there are a couple of surprises waiting for him. The twist at the end is cute and Hernandez’s style of clean, simple lines lends itself to the compact story.

We were so excited that we forgot to photograph the frame – it’s a matte black, flat-faced frame, wide-enough to accommodate the size.

Simon Monk’s paintings reveal ‘Secret Identity’

We’re the first to admit that framers are total nerds. Well, some of us more than others. So these paintings by Simon Monk really blew our minds. Art plus action figures plus super heroes? Yes, please! They’re done in oil & alkyd on wood and they’re 60 X 50 cm. Monk’s style is lush and crisp. There’s something really satisfying about the way he renders the wall hooks, the reflections in the plastic bags, and even the surface behind each subject. And hey, these aren’t just some pretty eye candy. Monk has made use of each material he includes to comment on identity, iconography, and the role of the painter himself. We thought it was telling that each piece is titled after the hero’s secret identity, not their superhero name. Take a look at them, and then check out Monk’s artist statement in his own words at the bottom. Good stuff.
via Booooooom

Christoph Niemann draws & tweets while running the NYC marathon

"Mile 16.3: Incredible crowd on 1 ave. Hope I am not going to John Boehner all the way to the park."

Christoph Niemann is an illustrator, designer and author of Abstract Sunday, a column for the New York Times Magazine. This past Sunday, he ran in the New York City Marathon and posted sketches of his experience on Twitter throughout the event. One of the first was after he thought security wouldn’t allow him to bring art supplies to the marathon, but then saw another runner permitted to bring an Italian flag.

"Guy with gigantic Italian flag got through security just fine. Go figure. "

Niemann posted more than 49 tweets and 40 sketches during the 26.2-mile race. When he was conditioning for the marathon, Niemann practiced simultaneously running and sketching so he never had to stop to draw. He finished in 6 hours and 11 minutes (the winner completed the marathon in just 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 6 seconds). Niemann kept his drawing tools in a backback – they included two sketch pads, paint tubes, markers, pencils, a sharpener, an eraser, two iPhones, and extra batteries. As you can expect, many of his tweets involved being hungry/thirsty and trying to do something about it.

"Still on the ferry. Nervous."

"Mile 13.9: Darn! I think I missed the bananas while being serenaded by Sean."

"Mile 17.3: Readers, if one of you has a banana, pls meet me on NW corner of 125th and 1st ave. I am at 80th now."

"Mile 3.2: Getting thirsty."

"Mile 6: Ahhhh."

Michael Gira painting – how to frame giant Swans

Recently, we took in a 4′ X 6′ canvas with more than a few challenges and some interesting history. The painting is a self-portrait by Michael Gira. In 1982, Gira formed the post-punk band Swans. The group was one of the “New York No Wave” bands. Before coming into our customer’s possession, the painting had belonged to Swans keyboardist/vocalist/songwriter Jarboe. The now-owner is a huge Swans fan and was very excited
to get it framed properly.

Michael Gira & Jarboe 1994

Typically, a canvas should be stretched. But many details in Gira’s painting, including his signature, went all the way out to some of the edges. Stretching the canvas would mean hiding all that when we wrapped it around the stretcher bars. When the customer informed us that he had limited space to hang the huge painting in, we realized a solution that would solve both dilemmas. We decided to wrap just the side edges around an acid-free, rag mat board. The mat board would be big enough, safe enough, and thin enough. In order to show the top & bottom edges, we would leave those as-is, and float the entire piece on black suede mat board. The deep color of the suede would practically disappear, almost looking like empty space or a shadow between the image and the frame. The customer chose one of our Roma collection for the frame. And rightly so – it needed to be a substantial frame to carry something of this size & weight, and the hand-finished nature of the Romas made it appropriate for such a special item.

Even an oversize sheet of suede mat board wasn’t big enough to float the canvas on. So we seemed two oversize pieces together. That relief cut in the center allows the parts that will be seen on the sides to be flush.

In order to protect the art, it needed glazing. But it’s not safe for glass to touch the canvas. However, plexiglass is porous and conducts heat differently. It’s also much safer at this size.

Whoops! Those gloves have seen better days.

The result is impressive. It’s a minimal look, per the customer’s requests, but it’s not plain or boring. There’s some lovely, subtle detail in the surface of the frame. The finished piece is sturdy and will protect as well as display the art. Everything other than the building of the frame itself took us nearly one day, mostly because of the size. We needed two work tables to assemble it and the job took two framers to make it happen. Well, we’re not called Big Picture Framing for nothing!