I felt let down that the minimum cost for framing 24x36 prints was then $109+.
It's a nifty idea, and the custom-framing market is at least partially ready to disrupted by a well-executed internet outfit. Good luck!
Now... That website is ugly and hard to use. I wish it wasn't, but their product is great and by far the cheapest I've found that's not junk. I've order 15 frames since I discovered them a few years back, and they're great. The frames arrive incredibly well packed. They do require assembly, but it only takes about 10 minutes to go from unpacked to wall once you've done the first one or two.
You should also note that they are metal frames (they own the factory), but they have a wide variety of finishes and are very high quality. No wood options, though.
No affiliation, just sharing the link.
For me, I think it's wonderful that you can get a great print or poster for $40. That problem has been solved. But you can tell a cheap frame from a quality one every time.
And, yet, unlike a doorknob, sometimes you want a frame to have a custom size.
I get sticker shock every time I go to buy a nice poster, print, or art piece at what seems like a very reasonable price and then see the cost triple or quadruple when I add the frame and shipping.
You anchored at 40 - and surely the frame is less than the artwork.
Can I suggest a bottom "entry level" solution - it might not work but have cheap(ish) standard sized frames and adjust the inner piece of off white card that goes inside.
I have two kids and would love to swap their work in and out on a weekly basis - different sized card to cover things up seems great.
Maybe YOU "can tell a cheap frame from a quality one every time" but I can't. I've never chosen to develop that expertise. Frames all kind of look the same to me, except that a few styles of wooden ones look needlessly gaudy/ornate/expensive. To me, the purpose of the frame is to FRAME - it's not art, just a square one puts AROUND art to protect and separate it. I care what color that square is and what size it is, but what MATERIAL it's made of...not so much.
Maybe I am subject to some sampling bias here, but people who spend real money on frames usually have large custom framing needs.
It also seems like shipping contributes a lot to the price, have you thought about offering an option to deliver the frame unassembled with a lower shipping rate? I'm sure it costs less to mail a long square tube than a flat box.
I liked reading about how this idea captivated you - best of luck with it!
For the future -- provide exact specs on the acrylic you're using to front the pieces (and consider offering museum glass in the future). UV exposure is critical depending on the placement of art and, perhaps ironically, particularly for the more inexpensive pieces people may be wanting to frame with your service that may have been printed using materials more prone to fading/etc.
Also, when you eventually offer additional matting colors/textures, put together a sample pack (using the cut scraps) that can be mailed out. Mats, particularly colored mats, look very different when actually adjacent to a piece of artwork than viewed on a screen (much more so than most framing material).
The best part is that no technical integration is required (drop a postcard into the shipping tube with the URL or email it with the receipt).
Thanks for the feedback on mat samples and the acrylic. Some details on the Frames page, but I can be more specific. Museum glass is great but decent risk of breaking in transit, hence the use of the acrylic.
I would definitely have been interested in online custom sizes, but with cheap materials -- plastic instead of glass, black faux wood frame. Not just for quality, but also for weight -- a glass covering over a 3-foot photo is crazy heavy.
There's definitely a big market of people who are post-college and want proper frames for non-standard-sized content, but simply want them as cheap as possible.
Here's a tip, the shape of the frame moulding can enhance the structure of the composition. You need a good eye for composition to see something like that. That's just one of many factors you would consider when choosing frames, mats, fillets, etc. Your Joey Roth print there would look better with a tapered frame. Even if you could represent a moulding in 3D, you need a professional designer to coordinate all the desires of the customer. Custom picture framing is a personal, intimate, complex business.
Here's my full response: http://pjbrunet.com/custom-picture-framing-falling-glass-raz...
The cheap frame from the discount store
has unsafe hangers and it’s not sealed
and it’s barely held together by cheap
staples and the thin, chipped glass
inside is a death trap in disguise.
"This is too expensive"
"Are you kidding? This is cheap!"
"This doesn't stand up to my expectations"
Getting that personalized, one-on-one, high-end experience would be fantastic. But it's also clearly not an experience that would work well with cutting out the middleman. Especially when that middleman is incapable of providing the MFA-requiring experience you eloquently described.
 No really, my Hasselblad 501CM, plus an 80mm ƒ/2.8 Zeiss Planar lens, plus a film back cost me about $950 earlier this year. They're all in great shape, and produce the best photographs I've gotten from any camera I've ever owned.
I'm not a camera expert but I bet your camera was made in a factory, not designed to your exact specifications, just for you. Your camera wasn't assembled in the US either. Nice camera though.
What you wrote about wanting an app to do this, it reminds me of my freshman year in art school when I was so excited about programming games, computer graphics, 3D models, the demo scene, etc. It was really difficult to get out of my comfort zone which was all this technology I grew up with. I eventually got into non-objective abstraction and sculpture and oil painting and realized it was really satisfying to learn from these dead artists who had so much to offer me. Anyway, I don't know you, maybe we're nothing alike but I hope you talk with more picture framers and learn as much about picture framing as you can before you become this huge company crushing artists out of business.
I hope you talk with more picture framers
and learn as much about picture framing
as you can before you become this huge
company crushing artists out of business.
And I'm not questioning the value of paying $900 for framing in some cases. But, I think it's ridiculous to assume that someone who bought a poster reproduction of some Klimt painting would spend $900 for a custom frame.
I'm not a camera expert but I bet your
camera was made in a factory, not designed
to your exact specifications, just for you.
Your camera wasn't assembled in the US
either. Nice camera though.
Anyway, I don't know you, maybe we're nothing
alike but I hope you talk with more picture
framers and learn as much about picture
framing as you can before you become this
huge company crushing artists out of business.
As far as a Klimt poster, it's surprising what people spend to frame posters. Ordering online is nothing new and tons of people order posters online, but people don't frame online because it's time-consuming work that takes practice and a lot can go wrong. You would be surprised how many people have a lot of difficulty using a ruler! Even professional framers. Which leads to returns & recuts for this website. Did the customer drop the frame, did the moulding warp from humidity? How do you know?
If you brought me a poster and you're not telling me you're on a budget, I'd work with you to choose frames for you and the art and depending on your level of involvement, I'd pick colors that we both agree look awesome. Often cost is the last thing discussed. Some stores, maybe you're spending more time to dial back a design to save money. It's like selling anything, what seems like a lot to me is affordable to somebody else. There are ways to save money but that's a long tangent.
Cost mostly depends on the scale, the quality of glass and your taste. Some frames are just expensive because of the labor involved, the country it's from, etc. You can also go crazy with fabric mats, stacking fillets, raising/floating elements and on and on. For prints 20" wide (just reading your website) that's going to be more affordable because you're using smaller sheets of glass and standard mats. But maybe with medium format film, those prints could be huge. Larger scale means larger glass, oversize 60" mats, shipping gets more expensive, everything is more difficult and cost goes up exponentially.
There's no typical scenario, that's why custom framing is so interesting. A microchip manufacturer could spend the same framing chip designs as the cigar bar framing ads for urinals.
... you can quote a custom frame for a 20x16" print, with no mat, a black wood 7/8" frame, and "standard glazing" (which by that, I presume you mean acrylic) for $61.55.
If the effort is just to be inexpensive, I think long-time online custom retailers like pictureframes, and related (whom I've been buying my frames and mats from for years) may be able to beat you there. Certainly, if I switch to a metal frame, the price starts dropping.
Now, if you're focusing on a better user experience, that could certainly use some improving with existing sites, but I don't know that you're really disrupting the price of online custom frames?
For me at least, price is the primary consideration by a large margin followed distantly by ease of purchase. The user experience of designing the frame doesn't really even come into the equation.
Right now, it's not obvious to me how I can simply say: "I need a frame that has a 18x18" opening," or whatever.
Let me do this and I will happily spend $200 on your website today, and will probably keep doing that every month or two in perpetuity.
Thought it would be easiest for most
customers to measure their prints/posters
and supply that one set of dimensions.
That's just the poster size that you enter in, right?
I punched in 12"x12" and it's showing me various frame/matte combinations that result in a 12"x12" opening.
Customizing a frame to fit a 12.0" x 12.0" print
13 x 13 x 0.75" Black Maple frame with No mat
and Standard glaze. $43.50
Maybe I just misunderstand how frames are described and sold, but I would fully expect to receive a frame with a 12x12" opening ("to fit a 12.0" x 12.0" print") if I bought that frame, and would feel misled if I ended up with a 13x13" opening. Again, maybe that's just how frames are sold, but if that's the case perhaps the site could explain that better.
The ambiguity is a concern for me. Also, I was a little wrong on the $200 figure earlier. The number is actually $150 for two matted prints of mine that I have sitting at home waiting for me to frame them.
* actually shows the expected price, in-line, without having to go to a new page.
* shows both the low-detail, big-picture information (a picture of the actual frame), and the high-detail information (exact specs of the frame)
* can quickly switch between options, and the display updates
This combination of features lets me quickly iterate through options, and evaluate tradeoffs (does this look better with no matting or 1" matting? The thicker frame width looks nice, but it bumps the price up. How much do I value that aspect?)
Feature wishlist for the future - the ability to handle multiple items in a frame, for a series of photos/triptych/etc.
Edit: Now that I've been through the process, I also found that your pricing was $14USD more for the same materials and dimensions than the first site that came up when I searched "online framing" ($46 vs $32). Its not clear from your site how you differentiate on that markup.
I'm guessing that the competitor was not using materials that were as quality or archival. I'm also trying to differentiate on the UI/UX. Most of the sites I've tried (and I've tried a lot) take dozens of steps to order the frame and have way too many options.
Even the low-quality frames from craft stores tend to cost significantly more than a cheap poster. A poster is just a big piece of printed paper.
I fully acknowledge I may be asking too much. Just saying that if you can hit that price point I will probably become a customer. No idea if I'm unique.
Doesn't sound like what OP is going for right now - seems like he would have better margins to start out on the high end. I don't have experiential data but I've read in many places that low-price products can have more difficult consumers because they expect so much for $20.
You could decrease production costs because you won't be making frames by order, just having a bunch of "sides" with different dimensions.
If you can deliver this under $20 it would be perfect for me.
Hated the step-by-step user interface, I like a form I can fill out and click one button, not least so I can view all options at once. The inches + '0/8' widget was extremely confusing and unintuitive. Simple text box and labels would have been fine or text box + dropdown. Annoyed not to have a metric option.
Prices are OK for custom woodwork, but I think you need to play up the 'high quality' angle more on the landing page, because otherwise many people are going to be expecting cheapish frames and get sticker shock. I like nice frames, but more and more I print on canvas with a built-in frame or other 'frameless' options because I have no wish to spend hundreds of dollars on frames. I'm not sure I agree about the mid-price pain point - but I do think your prices are competitive and a slight adjustment to your positioning is all that's needed.
Prices: 180 $ (+ sales tax depending on state, correct?) vs 180 € (= 240 $, includes 19 % tax)
Options: Very similar, german site offered more detailed options for materials (neutral, since to much can be to much) and also for different mounting methods and artwork thicknesses (can be relevant depending on artwork)
I feel like you need to work on presenting why I should go with you as someone new to the market at not-that-much-better prices than an established, well-regarded company which gives me more options and information about their product. Maybe your materials or craftmanship are better, but I have no real indication that this is the case, or the difference is on a level a might care about. Right now I have you calling your competition criminals and then charging more or less the same.
Being a computer nerd and not a professional photographer, I was at a bit of a loss. I ended up googling for professional print services online and ordering some sample prints.
Here's the thing: contrary to this article, they offered backing. Not sure about the rest of it. I included a couple of oddball-sized prints just to see how they did.
Why couldn't they offer frames? Is there some technical reason this isn't already done? I confess to quickly scanning the second-half of the article, but is there some barrier to entry that I'm not aware of?
My mom recently finished a framing seminar that cost her a lot of money to go to, invested a ton in equipment, and talked my ear off for two hours about why custom framing costs so much and why there's only a handful of framers in any area, and it gave me the impression that this isn't a market that's going to be disrupted any time soon.
I wonder if polystyrene is cheaper than acrylic. I don't know its UV protection properties.
I didn't look too closely at your site: Can people upload a picture of their artwork to display in your frame design UI?
Extra credit - Take some photos of your frames in natural room settings. Inside the frame, place a color calibration sheet. Find the transformation of the color calibration sheet (EG - how the room affects color, glare, and shadows), and then apply it to the user-uploaded images. Perhaps this could sell the difference between normal and anti glare.
Love the UX btw.
So I can upload photos of my kids and their cousins, choose frames (from a handful of frame options and about a dozen possible sizes -- not custom-sized!) and they ship me framed prints ready to hang on the wall.
Pricing starts at < $4 for a framed, matted 4x6 photo -- though obviously this is a different sort of product from the OP's custom framing (and also production costs will be significantly lower in Malaysia).
Also might be cool to have a variety of stock images of different types for those who don't have the image but can try it with something similar :).
...and was immediately let down when the price was pretty much just as expensive as a regular framer. Womp.
Other than that and a few other trivial issues, the site looks great. Can't wait to try it out.
One question, where do you source your "best bet" suggestions from?
The upsell is for the artist's market. They need to get their pride and joy off to galleries and shows. So even if they are driving the stuff to the gallery themselves, it still needs to be packed and made transportable.
The solution - 'art bags'. These are tailored to the frame with a few inches to spare and are made of that bubble-wrap that has mylar film backing in it - heat welded together, rip-proof and good for shifting framed artwork around without it getting damaged. A simple flap - add velcro if you must - closes the bag. Prominent on the front is an enclosure to add a picture of the picture with the expected fragile notice, artist's name, name of the piece, phone number etc.
Obviously such bags can be used for shipping the frames so you can sell on your packaging :-)
There is an un-developed market for this in the UK, as in a cottage industry. As a standalone business it is a hard sell, however, as part of a framing business it could work out quite nicely. Plus the start up costs for the materials and welding device are not great. Trade building supplies places sell the mylar film bubble wrap stuff so it is not hard to get.
I am using Chrome.
Possibly check for if the cursor is in the box as well as if the value is outside of the range. If the range changes or goes back to 0 and the cursor is not in the text field, have the warning go away?
The OP may not have found product-market fit yet (I'd argue this should be targeted squarely at the pro and semi-pro markets, instead of consumers), but the product itself looks fantastic and the pricing is terrific.
My inner consumer doesn't want to pay more for a frame than I did for what's going in the frame. It makes me angry. It feels wrong. That's the benchmark I'm evaluating against.
There will definitely be a big difference in desires and perception between the pro/semi-pro and consumer markets. What makes a shitty frame to you anyway (this is an earnest question)? I've never had a wooden frame disappoint me.
Personally I'd rather have the cheapest possible wooden frames that don't fall apart so that I can frame as much of the art I have lying around. To me a frame should be a cheap purchase that gets out of the way of the art it's highlighting.
It may be cheaper than similar offerings,
but it is still expensive.
a shitty frame
I'm glad to see OP is targeting the higher end market with the possibility of expanding to the low-end later. It's not what I'm after, but it clearly has value and at least he's not trying to do it all.
I spend a huge amount of money on picture frames. When I'm putting together a show, my expenses for frames easily break $1000.
Edit: seems to be working for me, now.