What is Art?

WHAT IS ART? 

Marc Chagall said, “art must be an expression of love or it is nothing.” Pablo Picasso, meanwhile, thought that “art is a lie that makes us realize truth,” whereas Paul Cezanne contemplated that the definition of art might be “the reproduction of what the senses perceive in nature, seen through the veil of the soul.” Or, as Marcel Duchamp’s infamous “Fountain” exhibition of 1917 tried to show, maybe art is just anything that’s displayed in a museum or gallery—or even your home.

At Artists Frame Service, we believe that art is in the eye of the beholder and that it can be anything you want it to be. That belief is reflected in the wide variety of art that we’ve framed for our clients over the years—from limited edition prints to acrylic paintings, even sports jerseys or needlework.

In the interest of encouraging the next generation, we recently ran a scholarship competition and asked aspiring high school artists: what do you think art is, and what does it mean to you? 

We received numerous great entries, but chose Claire Krueger of Novi, Michigan to receive the award. Claire will be attending Carnegie Mellon University in the fall as an aspiring fashion designer. We wish her a bright and creativity filled future! See some of her work here including her duct tape prom dress. 

HERE IS AN ABBREVIATED VERSION OF CLAIRE'S WINNING ANSWER TO OUR QUERY; WHAT IS ART?

Art is a house, in which an idea makes itself at home. Everyone has ideas, good ideas, bad ideas, world-shattering ideas, and ideas that simply disappear, and it takes a skilled artist to capture that idea on paper. Or off paper, any method to keep the idea alive. Art lives through different times, it can be as short-lived as a sketch at the bottom of a recycling bin, or as long lived as a statue that has suffered through times of war yet lives to tell the tale. Art is a means for the idea to live through the centuries. No matter the length of the life span, if it is created it is art.

Of course there is the good and the bad. There is the Mona Lisa and the stuff that hangs on your mother’s fridge, but the quality of the execution doesn't diminish the value of the art. Other than becoming a home to an idea art serves everyone a different purpose. To the artist it can be stress relief, a career or way to preserve your name into the unforeseeable future. To the observer it can be an adventure, inspiration, or even comfort.

Art inspires and drives more ideas and more art. It has followed us through the ages and grown with us, as it’s creation and destruction paralleled that of our own. Art has become our window into the past as well as our window into the future and it becomes the mind's playground. Since everything, including art, is open to interpretation the meaning of art becomes virtually infinite, and it is that incredible nature which makes makes me proud to call myself an artist.

Picture Frames:Beyond Wood

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Picture frames have been made out of wood since the beginning of picture framing time. In the store we carry over 1000 options in natural hard woods, reclaimed wood from old mid-western houses , barn wood, and eco-friendly forested wood from Europe with exotic wood veneers.

But when it comes to creative framing, there are plenty of opportunities to think "outside of the log" and create an amazing frame with alternative materials….

LEATHER

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Craftsmen in Peru, working for a generations-old company that originally made saddles and horse accoutrements, have harnessed their knowledge to make custom leather-wrapped furniture and frames. Many examples have hand-tooling and unique accents and each piece is a work of art.

ACRYLIC

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Prisma custom acrylic frames are made one-at-a-time right here in Chicago. Light reflects and bounces through the acrylic which gives these frames a quality of depth unlike any other frame we’ve ever seen. Customize your own combination of color, pattern and shape to create a frame like no other. Read more about Prisma and see more examples here.

Each Prisma is designed for your piece and made to order right here in chicago from solid hi-grade acrylic! Awesome!

Each Prisma is designed for your piece and made to order right here in chicago from solid hi-grade acrylic! Awesome!

WELDED STEEL

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While usually considered an industrial look for modern art and photography, we often recommend a steel frame for wedding photography and ketubahs. These frames really reflect the idea of permanence and a welded bond for life. Steel is also a recyclable material so it’s an earth friendly choice. Steel frames are available in a variety of tones and finishes. Read more about steel frames and see more examples here.

FAUX FINISH

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Framing designers are getting ever more creative these days and wrapping wood frames with all manner of materials. Come in to pet our faux fur, be bedazzled by our glitter frames and covet the other various and supple vinyl, cork and faux-leather frames.

The moral of the story is we’ve got a lot of interesting options and something for everyone. Some of these are not your Grandma’s frames, but then again, we haven't met your Grandma! 

Come in soon to shop our ever-changing eclectic selection and experience the best custom framing in Chicago!

10 Tips for Choosing the Right Custom Frame

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There are some who have said that getting something custom framed is intimidating and a real pain. We couldn't disagree more.  Framing requires a lot of decision making, but it's not a chore when you work with a professional well-trained consultant. We're here to make great recommendations and walk you painlessly through the process.

HERE ARE TEN THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SHOPPING FOR CUSTOM PICTURE FRAMING:

1. KNOW YOUR STYLE

Give your framer a little info on what else you have in your home or space where the art is going to hang. Do you prefer a modern and clean look, more traditional or an eclectic mix?

2. BE OPINIONATED, BUT ALSO OPEN-MINDED

We know you came here for our advice, but the first thing we will likely ask you is if you had anything in mind for the piece. We really want to know your ideas. We might agree or we might push you to go a little farther and imagine something even greater than you initially thought. It's a collaboration.

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3. CONSIDER THE SPACE

Your art can be dressed up or dressed down. Something going in the kitchen would be framed differently than the same piece going over the fireplace. Do you want to make a big statement or play it cool?

4. CELEBRATE DIVERSITY

Sometimes people ask us for a black frame only because every other frame in the room is black. Trust us. They won't notice that all your frames are the same color. People will notice how amazing your art looks with the perfect frame in the perfect color. Don't be afraid to mix it up.

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5. YOU LEARNED IT ALL IN ART CLASS 101

Line, shape, color and texture are the fundamentals of art and the things we're identifying in your piece to make frame suggestions. The right frame will highlight one or more of these aspects. We're going for that "It looks like it was made just for this piece of art" moment.

6. SIZE MATTERS

Part of our job is making sure the frame is strong enough to support everything going inside of it. Don't get upset if your tiny thin frame dreams are crushed. We just want everything to be safe and last a long time on your wall because....

7. GOOD FRAMING LASTS A LIFETIME....OR EVEN LONGER

What we're framing today will very likely be an heirloom for your kids or grand-kids. We always recommend the best preservation museum quality mat boards and UV protective glass. You wouldn't be framing it if it wasn't important to you, so let's take the best care possible.

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8. FIND THE LOVE THAT LASTS A LIFETIME

If we've narrowed down the design to a couple options and you can't decide which frame to go with, remember you will be looking at this piece every day. Go with the frame that will bring you joy and make your heart sing instead of just go "meh".

9. BUDGET

We'll always show you what we think works best with the art first. If it doesn't fit your budget, we can adjust the design. Keep in mind that you're going to be looking at this art for a long time. Going with what you really love can actually save money since you won't want to re-frame it down the road.

10. CONGRATULATE YOURSELF

How often in life do you get to buy a product that's completely custom-made? You're not getting a cookie-cutter mass produced thing. You're buying a one-of-a-kind hand-crafted item. Skilled hands are going to take care and make sure it's done just so. Enjoy the moment. You deserve it. 

Time for Spring Cleaning

We’ve changed our clocks, the birds are chirping and the tulips, daffodils and crocus are beginning to appear. That can only mean two things. First – it’s Spring! Second – it’s time for spring cleaning.

Snow bells and crocus popping up for spring.

Snow bells and crocus popping up for spring.

Here are some dos and don’ts for cleaning your exquisitely framed items.

How to Clean your Picture Frames:

clean frames with just a light dusting to avoid damaging fragile finishes.

clean frames with just a light dusting to avoid damaging fragile finishes.

Most finishes on your frames are pretty delicate. It’s not recommended to really clean them at all beyond a light dusting. Gold and silver leaf finishes in particular can be scratched or completely rubbed off if you go to town with any kind of spray cleaner. If you must, a slightly damp soft cotton cloth or an old t-shirt can be used to gently wipe them down.

 

How to Clean Glass:

we put glass care labels on the back of every frame.

we put glass care labels on the back of every frame.

Check the back of your framing for our sticker to identify the type of glass and find our recommended care instructions.  Most glass can be cleaned with paper towels and any kind of ammonia-free spray cleaner. A soft cotton cloth or old t-shirt works too.  Always spray the cleaner on the rag rather than directly on the glass. This makes sure you don’t over-spray with drips getting under the glass or get any spray on the frame itself. Wipe in steady circular motions.

 

How to Clean Museum Glass:

always spray the cleaner on the cloth and never directly on the glass.

always spray the cleaner on the cloth and never directly on the glass.

The magical secret to Museum glass that makes it look invisible is the anti-reflective coating. This coating on the surface is a little more delicate than regular glass and can scratch like eyeglasses if you use something too abrasive.  We recommend avoiding paper towels and instead use a soft cotton cloth or a micro-fiber cloth. Any ammonia-free glass cleaner will work. We do carry a great product for purchase in store as well as micro-fiber cloths. If there are still some stubborn streaks or fingerprints left on the glass, using a solution of 50/50 water and rubbing alcohol as a spot treatment should lift off any oil residue.

Non-streak ammonia-free cleaner available for purchase in store. works great on all glass, acrylic and mirrors.

Non-streak ammonia-free cleaner available for purchase in store. works great on all glass, acrylic and mirrors.


How to Clean Acrylic and Plexiglas

novus products are great for cleaning acrylic and plexiglas.

novus products are great for cleaning acrylic and plexiglas.

When cleaning acrylic, it’s best to use mild soap and water or a product designed for cleaning plastics. Regular glass cleaner is not recommended. Paper towels also can be a little abrasive, so we prefer a soft cotton or micro-fiber cloth. If you should find a little scratch in your acrylic, we suggest the Novus brand of products that can be used to buff out minor scratches.  #3 for a deep scratch, #2 for an artificial scratch and #1 for an all-purpose every day polish and shine.


Bring in the Big (air) Guns

sometimes little bugs can get in your framing. we can get them out!

sometimes little bugs can get in your framing. we can get them out!

A little light spring cleaning you can handle on your own but you might find yourself in need of professional help. We often have customers bring us framed items that have been in the basement or in storage and now have signs of mold or insects. We’ll be happy to open your framing and air blast out anything creepy crawly. With a little refresh of the matting and glass or new backing paper and wire your older treasures can be made good as new.


Give Walls a Fresh Look

empty wall in need of artwork and expert installer at work.

empty wall in need of artwork and expert installer at work.

Ready for a new look for spring? We can help rearrange and rehang your collection. Contact us today to schedule one of our experienced installers.