Where Exactly Do Frames Come From?

A question I had never pondered, nor even imagined pondering; until being hired by Artists Frame Service, that is. I was quickly enthralled by the myriad choices on the walls and even more excited to learn the process of how they came to be there in the first place. In the course of a normal work day, colorful salespeople would show up in the store carrying cases full of little pieces of wood and wearing charming suits that identified them as not American. My colleagues and I would all crowd around the counter and pick and choose which of these frames held the most promise of selling. With a natural eye for choosing winners and the chutzpah to make my opinion known, I was given the opportunity to go on the annual buying trip to Italy.

Ah, Italy. My first trip out of the country was to the 1998 International Picture Framing Expo in Bologna, Italy. Look how young and ready to be opinionated I appear here!

Did you know that the vast majority of the world's frame mouldings are designed and made in Italy and Spain? Those Europeans seem to be born with a winning combination of style and manufacturing know-how. Most of the companies we work with are second- or third-generation artisans with skills rooted in furniture and interiors which they have morphed into picture frames. Every year, the leading manufacturers bring their new looks to the fair and meet with customers like us from all over the globe.

It takes a few days to comb through the millions of options at the show and pluck out the true gems. Having just returned from this year’s trip (my eighth), I’m confident that I’ve chosen wisely. Check back with us in the fall when the exciting finds will be up on our walls—ready to ultimately end up thrilling you on your walls at home!