Category Archives: What’s Up

Now is the time to custom frame

Halley’s Comet. A royal coronation. The Centennial Exposition. Some events don’t come around very often. Like this. The big one. Our half off sale. That’s right, 50% off all custom framing.
Oh, yeah – we can hear some of you out there. “Pffft, half off – that’s no big deal. Places do that all the time!” Not us. Remember, when stores give you a discounted price, the value is only as good as the number that’s being discounted. Our normal, 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 nationwide 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 frames for less anywhere else.
ImageProxyThat means that when we do our world-renowned 50% off sale, you better believe it’s a true value. Great, you’re gonna save a bucket of money – now what?
Well, this would be a great time to bring in anything from Dad’s game winning golf putter to that menu you kept from the family’s trip to Disney World. Quilts, sports jerseys, diplomas, vinyl records, army medals – bring in whatever you’ve got and let us show you how custom framing can look amazing on anything that you want to display and protect.


Newsflash: Superheroes spotted at the Norman Rockwell Museum!

At the NRM with SupesPut on your best cape and let’s fly to the Norman Rockwell Museum! Today’s post is by one of our store managers and resident comic book nerd, Jake.
I was online last Friday morning when I read that a friend was going to see an Alex Ross exhibit at the Norman Rockwell museum in Stockbridge, MA. I was flabbergasted! How in all of geekdom did I not know about a show of one of my all-time favorite comic book artists that was going on just a couple of hours away?! Even more catastrophic, it was ending in 2 days! This was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see some very famous (for comic book fans, anyway) original pieces of his painted superheroes. I managed to take the afternoon off from work (hey, we got a blog post out of it), grabbed my wife along with her niece & nephew, and made like the Flash to western MA .
IMG_3553Alex Ross Batman bustIt was amazing! I was familiar with nearly every artwork in the exhibit – they were all on my bookshelf at home. While some pieces were high quality reproductions from Ross’s own collection, many were the actual paintings. Seeing Aquaman or the Green Lantern in the scale that they’d been rendered, with all the little details that you don’t see in the published versions, was something I didn’t think I’d ever get to do. Aquaman & Hawkman by Alex Ross
Ross became known in comic books when the medium was on a real downturn – there was a glut of junky art and mediocre stories in the early 90s. He brought a fresh look and gave iconic characters back their prestige. His classical approach to depicting super heroes with incredible realism hadn’t really been seen like this before. Typically, publishers use 3 aritsts – a penciller, an inker, and a colorist. But Ross told stories thru painting all of his own work. Not many artists can please fans like he did and make the leap into the mainstream where his work became known outside of just avid collectors.
If it seems strange that the Norman Rockwell Museum would be hosting a show of comic book art, it’s because Rockwell’s work has always informed Alex Ross’s paintings – he’s never made a secret of that. After noticing the close resemblance between some of the pieces, more cynical people might say that he’s ripping off the great American artist. Personally, I love that there’s such a strong tie between the two. It makes sense to me because comic books and Rockwell’s images are so very American. And I enjoy the idea that Rockwell’s sensibilities help elevate these characters that many think of as being cartoonish or goofy. But with Ross’s help, visitor’s to the show left with the same impression of these heroes that those of us who visit our local comic shop live with everyday.
Here’s a great comparison of the two artists, along with Ross’s own words about how Rockwell’s illustration for the United Nations inspired him.
Norman Rockwell United Nations“What impacted me so strongly here was the flatness of the composition in imagining all these people swapped out for superheroes, which I did, there’s something very powerful to that. Something too that I engaged with from how this particular pencil piece worked, is that the foreground figures of the United Nations members are lit by some kind of overhead light which separates them from the background figures. He also had a way of illuminating subjects where it felt very realistic in a way that would help me get across the idea of wanting to render these fantastic characters realistically. I wanted you to believe them. I wanted you to look at them and believe that they could be real, but also legitimate too. That the idea of being real people was not devoid of the fantasy that they were also embracing – that the two things seemed utterly understandable and realistic.”
Alex Ross JusticeThis isn’t our first post about Alex Ross’s comic book art. Take a look at the time we got to frame one of his original drawings!

This is snow weather for custom framing

FrameZilla

Quick, to the bat cave… in Aruba!

BPF Jake at cliffsOne of our intrepid framers managed to flee the country get away with the family for a vacation on the island of Aruba. His favorite site was Arikok National Park, where he snapped some pretty impressive pics and was able to… well, we’ll let Jake tell it.

I figured Aruba would be nothing but beaches & piña coladas. But my wife and I read there was a national park that occupied 30% of the island. So after we’d had our share of the beach and the bar, we rented a car and spent an afternoon at Arikok. It was easily one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. After entering the park, we drove through cactus and rocks for about 30 minutes. Then, suddenly, the coast appeared. It looked like something out of a National Geographic centerfold. The volcanic rock made it difficult to walk near the edge of the cliffs, so we went as far as we dared. The force of the wind and the sound of the waves was hard to ignore.

Pano of cliffsPano of waves

waves at Arikok

The ocean view was so awe-inspiring that I didn’t think we could top it and I was ready to call it quits for the day. But Laurie was convinced that the bat caves were worth a look. A short walk back from the shoreline, there were rocky hills that one could easily enter.

Batcaves Once inside, it was pitch black. I almost didn’t go in, but framers are known for their *ahem* fearless demeanor. So even tho’ I literally could not see where I was stepping for about a dozen yards, I bravely followed my wife into the caves. Jake entering batcave The entire time, it felt like every monster movie ever made, certain that something was going to reach out of the darkness and bite one of us. It was worth the anxiety because after we made it to the interior, there was a comforting about of sunlight coming in through openings in the natural roof. Jake inside batcaveIt was so odd to see such a remarkable sight in person, and not just on a computer screen or in a coffee table book. I think the entire trip reminded us that seeing something or knowing something is not more important than doing something and sharing new experiences. Since getting home, we’ve vowed to do more traveling whenever possible.

Everything you wanted to know about framing in 2012 but were afraid to ask

new Lexington storeLast week, we showcased our favorite stories from the world of art in 2012. Today, we’re gonna reflect on this year’s posts from the world of Big Picture Framing. After all, it was a very big year for us, full of many successes. We opened store #15 in Lexington. Things have been working out great there – kudos to Jane, Emily, and the rest of the staff. We started giving all of our stores a fresh look – Natick, our second oldest store, was the latest to get a face lift. Our Newton Center location moved a short distance and became our new store in Newtonville. We’re looking forward to more exciting reveals in 2013!

Oh, don’t worry – we covered some actual framing, as well. Our mat selection got freshened up with several new specialty mats. We discussed a framer’s reasoning behind the proper way to frame something with a lot of helpful do’s and don’ts. three-railroad-spikesAnd if you ever doubted the benefits of Museum Glass, “It reflects well on us but not on your art” is the post for you. Lots of people think that all the frames in their home need to be the same, so we talked about some other design options when we helped a customer frame his collection of antique maps.

We shared some really challenging jobs – things you might never think to put in a frame, like these railroad spikes. Customers often bring us puzzles to frame but don’t know what to expect so we covered the in’s & out’s of framing your favorite jigsaw puzzle.

All in all, 2012 brought us a lot of joys, not the least of which was the pleasure of continuing to serve our customers who make all of these things possible. The staff at Big Picture Framing always look forward to the interesting and diverse items that our customers bring us and we love showing them beautiful design choices. We’re excited to see what fantastic art 2013 will bring!

Our own Best of 2012

Fortunately, the world did not end in 2012, but it did continue to crank out original & eye-popping works of art. A big upside to producing this blog is that we get to uncover some of that art right here. So as Old Man ’12 gets ready to hand it off to Baby New Year, here’s a brief round-up of our most favorite discoveries.

We love sharing stories about new ways to cut & manipulate paper, and we thought we’d seen it all. Then we found quiller Lisa Nilsson. This box, entitled Female Torso, is just one example of her work. It’s only 9 x 10 x 3/4 inches, and it’s still chock-full of technical prowess that blew us away. Lisa Nilsson

Sometimes the most interesting discoveries are in our very own backyard. We met Jesse Green when he brought us a bunch of articles about his chainsaw art to be framed. Now he’s got his very own reality TV show on Nat Geo, “American Chainsaw.” Congrats, Jesse! Jesse Green

Not all of our favorite posts were about a specific artist. There were some articles about fantastic concepts and ways to showcase art, as well. Art-o-Mat is a perfect example. Originated by Clark Whittington in 1997, these refurbished vending machines are just as impressive as the tiny artworks that they dispense. secca-nc

A recurring trend in art this past year was to go low-tech and espouse a sense of nostalgia. Homeroom was a show of 20 artists that demonstrates this idea beautifully. Concepts are always more interesting when they challenge you to insert yourself or your own ideas. How would you portray the images you scrawled as a child if you had to draw them today? soey-milk

If we had to pick one post that hit all these marks and gets our vote for top-of-the-heap, it’s gotta be this one. Ben Venom is hard-core when it comes to quilting. His mastery of piecing together heavy metal rock n roll t-shirts into mesmerizing quilts definitely left an impression on us. How else are you gonna stay warm, look good, and blast some Ozzy Osborne in style? the-mega-quilt

We did it again! Merry Christmas

Well, we made it through another holiday season of last minute custom framing. This is our time of the year to shine, when most other framers have to say “no” to custom orders 2 weeks before the 25th. We do all our production work “in house”, so it allows us a faster turn-around time. Each of our stores will get a phone call at about 11am this morning on Christmas Eve to announce the cut-off time at our saw-room. At that point, Bob & Barry – the owners of BPF themselves, will hit the road just like Santa and deliver those final frames. Still framing frame postEveryone on our staff did what it took to make this year a success. Whether it was Chris & his staff at our Needham location producing an enormous number of framed art, or the Shrewsbury staff staying late until everything was finished, or other framers like Lydia, Laurie, McKenzy, and Jamie traveling to help cover at other stores, or Rebecca working on her days off in the warehouse, the staff at all our stores take a lot of pride in saying “yes” to every customer and making sure their gifts are ready in time. Arguably, Frank and his staff in the saw room have the largest task, cutting every frame for every store. As long as the moulding is in stock, they say yes to all our phone calls. You may not believe in Santa Claus, but those guys will make you believe in his elves.
So great job, everybody! Tomorrow we’ll be able to enjoy the holiday as well as the warm feeling inside that we helped make a lot of other people’s holiday complete.

The Special Olympics are More Than Just a Game

“More Than Just a Game” is an exhibit of photographs by Len Rubenstein that featured a variety of athletes from the Special Olympics. We were honored when Mary Beth at the Special Olympics office brought us the job of mounting the 20 photos, but we didn’t grasp just how fantastic the concept was until we saw the photos. Len Rubenstein’s studio setting and large format made each portrait quite personal – just having them in the store to work on became inspiring for us.

We got an invite to see the show at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art on the evening of November 14. It was a thrill to be there in person and see them in a world-class gallery setting. Coming from a framer’s point of view, it was hard to imagine how the pieces would look after being mounted so simply. But being able to walk around the photos created a much different impression than if they’d been hung on a wall. There was a feeling that the work was just about each person and his or her personality – very different than being confronted with a piece of art that the viewer is forced to face from only one point of view.

Check out this video of Len Rubenstein’s photo shoot – it’s easy to see just how much pride & joy went into the project, for Len just as much as the athletes.

The #1 way to manage your holidays

It’s that time of year when we all start to feel our lives being taken over. Winter weather, holiday shopping, family get-togethers, events at school – it all gets pretty hectic. The best way to stay ahead of the game is to take out your to-do list right now and get a handle on your schedule before it gets a handle on you!

#1 Take advantage of the big 50% OFF Custom Framing Sale at Big Picture Framing. You need to decorate your walls before the holiday party? Cousin Lola’s coming over and you forgot to frame that photo she gave you? Need a gift for that hard-to-shop-for someone? That’s what this sale is for, people! The timing is perfect – save money and get stuff checked off that to-do list before everyone else is out there shopping at the same time. And before it’s too late.

It’s a healthy path from the kitchen to the frame store

We’re pleased to share another guest post, this time by Jane from our Arlington & Lexington stores. If you want to find out more after reading her write-up, you can check out Jane’s own blog at Corn in the USA.

When I’m not at Big Picture, there’s a pretty good chance you can find me in my kitchen experimenting with pastry recipes. Baking offers a relaxing hobby and a tasty finished product, but my real objective is to find ways of making my favorite desserts healthier and with a smaller carbon footprint than the ones you buy at the store.

The search for sustainable ingredients is a fun and challenging journey in itself; and I’ve found some fantastic local farms and health food stores who supply me with the ingredients I need.
Pasture-raised dairy products, raw sweeteners like maple sugar, and whole wheat or nut-derived flours are all great substitutes for conventional baking ingredients. They are healthier, more sustainably produced, and maybe I’m biased, but I think they taste better.
My most recent adventure was muffins made from freshly picked Massachusetts apples. They were a hit when I brought them in to share at work!