Monthly Archives: January 2012

Now you see Cecilia Paredes, now you don’t

Cecilia Paredes is a Peruvian artist who gives new meaning to the phrase, “getting lost in your work.” Carefully using body paint, makeup, and costumes, she photographs herself disguised against intricate backgrounds. As soon as we saw these, we thought of the work of Beijing artist, Liu Bolin. His backgrounds are often common, everyday settings. Like a grocery store aisle –

We enjoyed the fact that Paredes challenges her camouflaging abilities by taking a different pose each time. The last photo with her exposed eyes in an intense gaze is particularly effective. It can’t be ignored that much of the power in her photos has to do with the beauty and detail of the patterns. How different would her work be if the backdrops were overly loud and busy? Like a Hawaiian shirt.


Drawing inspiration from Where They Draw

Need some inspiration? Think you’re the only one whose work space is a mess? Or maybe it feels like no one else is as big a neat-freak as you are? If so, we recommend bookmarking Where They Draw, a blog that showcases the workspaces and tools of artists. Many of the people featured work on cartoons, illustrations, and underground comics, so their offices are ideal for scrutinizing. We were drawn (ouch!) to the tools and ephemera that the subjects have collected, not just on their work tables, but on the shelves and walls around them. It gives some insight into how people find inspiration in different ways. We also liked how some of the artists that submitted photos obviously took delight in making the photos themselves an art statement, creatively labeling the photos and including pics of their own collections, like in the cases of Rafer Roberts and Will Dinski. But Spleenal may win for the most unusual – his workspace varies between the bus and the train!

Meet New England’s master chainsaw sculptor

The moment that local artist Jesse Green walked into our Milford location, it was obvious that we were in for a treat. He was carrying a Rubbermaid bin full of items and a label on the front that clearly read “Frame Me.”
Since 1997, Jesse “The Machine” Green has been “carving dreams into reality” with his trusty chainsaw. His business card declares “Trees and stumps transformed!!” The storage bin was chock-full of newspaper articles reporting his wide array of public and private sculptures. As we began working with him on the frame designs for each article, we realized that even tho’ we didn’t know Jesse, we recognized his work. His sculptures are all over the Greater Boston Metro area!
His website is full of photos and info about how The Machine has built such a huge body of work. There are plenty of videos showing how the sculptures take form. We like how he includes the story behind each of the featured commissions. We even learned some local history, like in this piece of Casey at the Bat –

Casey At The Bat, Mudville: “The classic American poem that’s said to originate in Holliston, MA! I was commissioned for this exciting project by “The Mayor Of Mudville” himself, a man named Bobby Blair and the assignment was to replace his ailing, original Casey Sculpture [which over the years had garnered national attention] with one that was a bit more Disney-like. The grand unveiling for the NEW Casey was held on the poem’s anniversary, it included a parade (which I participated in) and was attended by visitors from all over the country!!”

Harvard, MA: “This ‘organic form’ from an Ash Tree stump was a commission for a very well-known, very well-respected Landscape Architect named Mamie Wytrwal and her husband, Dave for their own, private residence!”

Chad Urmston, AKA: “Chadwick Stokes of the bands; Dispatch and State Radio! He commissioned me for this piece after reading about me in the paper and I carved it for him while he was in between tours, just weeks after Dispatch sold out 3 nights at Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden (where the Celtics and Bruins play)! Story is: Chad’s Great Great Great Great Great Great (I forget how many greats.. haha) Grandmother is THE FACE on the Liberty Penny also known as ‘The Indian Head Penny’. (He has the penny as a pretty good-size tattoo on his arm.) So we used her head and I imagined up a body to pull a spirit like no other out of this beautifully located, wonderful old tree on his family’s famed Cloudberry Farm!”

“One of the funniest commissions I’ve gotten to date! A Plumber Plunging An Exploding Toilet for Eldridge Plumbing And Heating on Pleasant St. in Ashland, MA. This project was featured in the 1st story that NPR did on me and has attracted LOTS of attention! Haha”

If it looks like Jesse is always smiling in these photos, it’s not just for the camera. He was like that in person, too – you can tell right away that he works so hard because he’s doing what he loves.

Max Zorn’s tape art portraits will stick with you

At first, we figured there wasn’t much more to Max Zorn’s tape art than what meets the eye. But the street artist has a few twists waiting for anyone who takes the time to check out his site. First of all, it’s not evident in these online pics, but he hangs his portraits on street lamps and other urban light sources. The tape has been applied to clear plastic layers, so the lamp illuminates what might otherwise look like the top of a discarded shipping box.

Max Zorn (surely not his real name – that was the villain’s name in the James Bond flick, A View to a Kill, played by Chris Walken!) includes a map on his site that will tell you where he’s “displayed” his art. And he even announces upcoming “shows”. Just the other day, he posted that Liverpool, Bristol, and London can expect to see the release of his take on The Beatles.
If there’s any doubt as to the talent that his tape art requires, there’s a time-lapse video below of Zorn at work. We wouldn’t have guessed the process requires so many steps, both additive and reductive. It’s darn impressive.

For gosh sake, if you’re gonna frame something…

The phrase we hear from customers more than any other is, “I don’t want the frame to detract from the art.” Of course. No frame design should ever overshadow the art that it’s displaying. That’d be like a groom showing up to his own wedding in a Hawaiian shirt. But, we would expect that groom to show up in his very best suit. People often make the mistake of underdressing their art by using a white mat. Or just one mat. Or *shudder* no mats! Let’s quickly go over why that’s a waste of your time, money, and most importantly, a waste of whatever you’re framing.

First off, you need that mat for more than just his good looks. Without it, the glass will just be sitting on your art, leading to all sorts of unpleasantness down the road. Uh-uh, definitely a no-no. The glass should only be touching the mat. And it’s underneath the mat that we framers hide all the little tricks necessary to safely mount the art. Got it? Good. So, what mat to use?

A white mat? Sure. If you’re showing it in a gallery, Pablo. But this is for your home. Take advantage of the fact that you’re using a custom method and choose some color that will suit the item you’re framing. One mat? Borrring. It’s also more difficult to choose just one color that will look right – almost like trying to get dressed in just one color. At least two colors means you can create some contrast and make it look all that more tailored to your art.

Alright, we’ll make our final case with the clothing analogy again. If you’re going to a job interview, you certainly don’t want the interviewer to remember your clothing more than they remember you. But you still wear your very best suit.
You know what? The proof is in the pudding, so let’s take a look at how we made Toucan Sam look like more than just a $12 poster. First, we started with a bold red to compliment the bold colors in the poster. You may be thinking this’ll create a Hawaiian shirt effect, but it’s gonna be our accent color so it’s okay. It’ll also create that contrast we mentioned earlier.
To make things even more interesting than just two mats, we’re using this element called a bevel accent. It has a metallic look that will help relate to the frame that’s coming up. The other thing it does is create some depth – it’s thicker than a mat.Now for the top mat. This is the one that will be the most prominent, so we chose a color that will be easy on the eyes. But we didn’t want it to be dull, so we picked a basket-weave texture. Textured mats will always create subtle colors that you can’t get from a flat paper mat. There’s something about the basket weave that also suits the image and subject matter.Oh, who’s that? It’s Mr Frame making his big intro! No black frames for this bird. The metallic finish ties in with the bevel accent and the subtle pattern fits the image like a glove. Take a look at the result and let us know what you think.

You say “trash”, I say “trashé”

Meet David Bartley, Senior Registrar at the Walker Art Center. He’s gonna take you behind the scenes at the museum and explain that certain art in the collection has to be labeled for reasons that will become obvious once you see the pieces he’s selected.

Joshua Best is gonna redesign your state for the better

One of the advantages to having a blog is that it keeps us in tune with a lot of sites by artists that we wouldn’t know about otherwise. True, we often have to take the easy way out and share topics that others have brought to our attention. But by sheer luck, we happened across Joshua Best’s 50 States Design Project.

A proud design and geography nerd, my goal is to merge the two by applying a custom design to the shape of every state. 50 states, 50 weeks. Let’s do it.

Aided by captions that are lyrically insightful, the images are unique, depicting a sentiment or concept about that particular state. If you dig his work as much as we do, you’ll want to check out Josh’s Etsy store where he sells his prints. In the meantime, we picked some of our favorites below. He’s done 17, so far – we can’t wait to see how Mass turns out!
“Original Oklahoma”“Washing Washington”“Yippee Tennessee”“Sunny Rhode Island”“Michigan’s Mittens”“Rusty Idaho”

Hey, Nat Geo 2011 Photo Contest winners – intense much?

No one would envy the 3 photographers at National Geographic who had to judge this year’s photo contest. More than 20,000 photographs were submitted from over 130 countries by professional and amateur shutterbugs. A first place winner was selected in each of the three categories – nature, people, and places. From those, a grand prize winner was selected. That honor went to the above photograph, “Splashing”, by Shikhei Goh. The dragonfly in Indonesia’s Riau Islands appears to have been caught in a sudden downpour, but it’s actually thanks to a friend of Goh’s, using a water bottle.

The winner of the People category, was Izabelle Nordfjell. Her photo of a Swedish Sami reindeer hunter captures the moment immediately after he’s made a kill that will feed his family for the winter.
“Into the Green Zone” by George Tapan won for Places. It shows a rainbow arching over the Philippines’ Onuk Island after a rainstorm.
There were several honorable mentions in each category, and we picked our faves from each group. The monsoon in Bhaktapur, Nepal at the bottom is particularly striking.

Don’t tell Ben Venom that quilting isn’t hardcore

We’ve certainly framed our share of quilts, but nothing, uh, nothing quite like the quilts of Ben Venom. To look at his work, you’d think he was a hardened quilter who’s been doing this his whole life. But Venom started quilting in 2008 when he was invited to be part of an exhibit in Berlin. While trying to think of what kind of art he could ship overseas practically, Venom remembered being inspired by the quilts of Gee’s Bend. He decided to combine the craft with his love of heavy metal rock n roll. (Actually, if you look in your thesaurus, “heavy metal” is the exact opposite of “quilts.”) Hey, we were just talking about how one of the key ingredients to art is the juxtaposing of different elements that have never been thought of together before. Well, using lots and lots of rock band T-shirts, he’s created fabric mosaics filled with pentagrams, ram’s heads, and other images you’d expect to see in a tattoo. Uh, or in a quilt.
After you get over the initial novelty of quilts crossed with heavy metal, and really look at his work, you begin to see that Venom has created not only unique, but beautifully crafted pieces of art. Never mind the subjects on the surface for a moment – consider the abstract quality of each piece; the shapes, the stitching, the colors. These choices result in something bigger than its parts.
Ben Venom has become a one-man art movement, exhibiting his amazing quilts all over, sponsoring rock concerts, and teaching various quilting classes and workshops.

The Mega Quilt, a 13′ x 15′ monster made from over 125 heavy metal band T-shirts.

Here’s a baby quilt he did on commission for a couple that have each been in rock bands. The shirts Venom used are from the new parents’ own wardrobe.

In case you think that Venom has a gang of grandmothers churning these out in his basement, here’re some pictures of him at work. Personally, we find them very inspiring. Meighan O’Toole over at the amazing site My Love For You, has visited Ben Venom’s studio a few times and took these pics that shed some light on his process. The quilt in the last two photos, inspired by the Misfits’ song “Where Eagles Dare”, is his newest piece and probably our favorite so far. And we love that while he’s working on it, Venom’s wearing – of course – a heavy metal T-shirt.

No, the real definition of “value”

When a business offers a price discount, your value is only as good as the price that’s being discounted. Our everyday 30% discount is taken off of standard framing industry list prices. We don’t start with a built-in markup. We’re not a big box store that’s part of a nation wide chain with lots of overhead costs to cover. So we’re able to stand behind our guarantee that you can’t get any of our custom materials or services for less anywhere else.
Having said that, your business is so important to us that we accept our competitor’s coupons. All our stores are proudly flying the “Competitor Coupon” banner this month. But it’s something that we do year ’round. As long as the coupon applies to custom framing, hasn’t expired, and doesn’t have any fine print that would invalidate it, come on by and find out why Big Picture Framing continues to grow after 11 years of excellent customer service. We look at coupons from other framers as a chance to turn people into life-long advocates for BPF!