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Why I took on building a better way to frame any poster, print or photo (medium.com/jhubball)
133 points by jhubball on Oct 2, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 85 comments

These sentences in your copy set me up to expect a framing solution that would let me frame a poster in a nice frame for ~$40: "A handful came from Fab.com, there was a Ray Lamontagne concert poster I picked up after a show, and several others I had purchased on and offline. Not one had cost over $40."

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!

24x36 frame with foam core backing and U/V protective lens cover for just a hair under $55 ($51.05 if you monkey with the settings right, $70-ish if you want all the bells and whistles): http://www.wholesaleposterframes.com/product_info2.php

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.

Thanks for the feedback! Price-wise, there is almost no way a wooden frame of that size with a framers-grade acrylic could ever get down to that size. Cost of the wood alone is ~$0.30 per linear inch.

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.

Maybe what I need to overcome my cheapness is a new perspective. From my perspective, the frame is utilitarian. It's just there to hold the goods, which are what is mounted. I don't want it to look shitty, any more than I want my door knob to look shitty, but it amounts to basically the same thing. It feels "off" to pay more or as much for a frame as I do for what goes in it.

And, yet, unlike a doorknob, sometimes you want a frame to have a custom size.

That just doesn't sit right. It is like if you had to pay significantly more for a belt than for the pants they are holding up.

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.

It is like having on a dapper outfit, stepping out but then your outdoor jacket looks bad. A jacket compliments an outfit, like how a frame compliments art.

I came to post almost exactly the same thing as the OP - 40 bucks was the anchor and yet the first click lead me to ... No pricing and the second to over 60 bucks.

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.

So why does it have to be wood? Could you perhaps offer an OPTION to instead use plastic or metal or whatever's in the cheaper frames they sell at Target/Walmart, only custom-sized?

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.

Reading the article gave me the impression that this was going to be cheaper than going to a framer. I plugged in some numbers and settings for an almost identical 36 x 24 frame I had made a couple months ago, and the price was about the same ($200). It also seems like you can't make larger frames (beyond 36 x 24), which is where about 80% of my frame expenditures go to. I once paid that same framer a lot to frame, deliver, and hang a 4' x 9' piece of art. If you could make a frame and ship it to me for less, and I could use the cute interface to do it, I'll hang it myself and not have to spend all that time interacting with a framer.

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!

Great idea! Framing is an incredible hassle for exactly the reasons you describe. Would be cool to partner with small artists to pass out discount codes on physical cards they could include with rolled & shipped art.

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).

thanks, zorpner! I am actually starting to work with artists already, very similar to what you mention. Here is an example:


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.

As someone who framed four photos (from small to 3 feet wide) a couple years ago -- I wound up using cheap $10-30 Blick frames and cropping my photos to "standard sizes", and spending $200 locally on the one that simply couldn't be cropped to a standard size.

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.

You nailed the alternatives on the head: buy cheap plastic or MDF frames that look crappy and are hard to find in the right size, or spend $$$ at the custom frame shop for a beautiful, high-quality frame. I wanted to deliver the same product as the custom frame shop, but in a much more convenient way and at ~half the cost. Could expand into other price point later, but right now trying to hit that sweet spot in the middle where there is a real pain point.

I tried your widget and I wouldn't really call that "custom" picture framing. If I was you, I wouldn't call custom picture framing a racket. Your suppliers won't be pleased to hear you belittle their passion. Your two examples demonstrate no understanding of color or form. It's like you folded an Origami crane and you're already calling Michelangelo a hack.

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...

From your blog post:

    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.
I've spend a good deal of time today reading responses from other posters on this thread today. I think I can bucket them into three groups:

    "This is too expensive"
This represents the bulk of the responses: people who are used to buying cheap discount store frame you describe. The 80% case.

    "Are you kidding? This is cheap!"
People like me, who represent most of the other 20%. I can appreciate the $300 and the $900 designs you reference, but I'm not willing to pay either amount. I'm not framing an Ansel Adams or a Henri Cartier-Bresson print.

    "This doesn't stand up to my expectations"
As far as I can tell, only you in this thread. That's not to say that your viewpoint is invalid. Far from it. But, instead, it fails to recognize that there is a meaningfully large mid-market that doesn't want a $10 death-trap, but is also unwilling to spend as much as it would cost to buy a used Hasselblad[0] on framing a print.

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.

[0] 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 don't know what your market will be, do you? Is $900 for a picture frame expensive? Depends what we're framing, how big is it and how long will it take to build? Are we framing a Celtics jersey with a cigar and some tickets? I always billed six hours of labor for shadowboxes. Not many framers do big shadowboxes. Then you're talking about cutting a custom jersey insert out of foam, pinning the sleeves just right (two more inserts) then jig up the cigar. This was years ago but my shadowboxes were usually in the $600-$700 range. Obviously bigger frames cost more, especially if you get the museum glass and spare no expense.

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.
I'm not the OP. Levleframes.com isn't my website.

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.
This is true. And not particularly relevant. A custom camera designed just for me wouldn't be able to take advantage of the rich ecosystem of V series lenses, backs, and accessories that I can use. Incidentally, every film camera is slightly different, which is why tutorials like this exist: http://stephengrote.com/teaching/courses/files/storage/Zone%...

    Your camera wasn't assembled in the US
    either. Nice camera though.
How is this relevant?

    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.
Again: this isn't my website. And a framer charging $900 will either be able to differentiate their services from an $80 frame ordered off the Internet and a $20 frame bought at Ikea, and their business will do fine, or they won't.

Sorry, I assumed you were the OP because you were talking about the market, etc. So I was writing in Levleframes general direction ;-) I agree, he could succeed with the right marketing, especially with a lot of tutorials for the DIY market.

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.

To the OP, have you seen Pictureframes.com? I ask, because if you spend a few minutes here:


... 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?

I was excited when I saw the OP's post but completely crestfallen when I quoted a frame.

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.

This looks fantastic, but I have one request: I do all of my own photo matting, and would love to have a 'power user' interface that would let me simply specify the size of the custom frame that I need.

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.

Great feedback. Right now you can contact me directly with that (I try to mention it in the FAQ and tool tips), but have not built the feature to directly specify. Thought it would be easiest for most customers to measure their prints/posters and supply that one set of dimensions. Would love the opportunity to frame something for you!

    Thought it would be easiest for most
    customers to measure their prints/posters
    and supply that one set of dimensions.
Sure, that's totally understandable. I'd expect, though, that a sizable chunk of people who won't bat an eye at your prices for custom frames are going to be like me. Feel free to email me at aaron@brethorsting.com if you'd like to discuss in more detail. And thanks again! I look forward to using your service!

> "I need a frame that has a 18x18" opening,"

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.

No, punching in 12x12 gives you a 13x13" frame:

    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
I'm saying that my matted print is 12x12 (or whatever), and I don't want to futz with making the numbers come out right.

I would expect 13x13x0.75" to be the exterior dimensions of the wood, given that 3 dimensions are listed.

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.

> 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.

Isn't that exactly what that is? The frame itself is 13x13 but the opening is 12x12.

just to clarify - 12" x 12" (dimensions of the artwork) will result in a mat opening of 11.5" x 11.5" because the mat has to overlap the print by 1/4" on each side to hold it in place. Trying to make this element as clear as possible, all of this feedback very useful.

Trying out the site, I'm really liking the frame editor, UI-wise. Particularly

* 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.

I got triptychs on the roadmap - huge fan of how those look!

When I needed to change dimensions, I started over. The first step did show 0/8 but the fractions of the inch were present on the second step.

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.

thanks for taking a look, I will look into the fractions change.

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.

You will make money, but you won't be "disruptive"

This has great potential. I plugged in some random numbers and the basic offering seemed to cost around $100, though, which is still significantly more than the cost of a cheap poster. Can you talk a little about the price breakdown here? Or perhaps that would reveal the secret sauce?

For perspective I had custom framing done recently for something that was about 16"x30" and it was $300. I could have paid less than 50% for a very similar frame using this site.

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.

Thanks donall! Yes, these are not cheap frames or Ikea offerings. They are what you would get from a high-end custom frame shop. I'm able to bring the prices down by going direct, removing the need to handle the artwork (you do that part, but it's not hard) and eliminating the retail overhead.

Maybe I'm cheap. I want cheap frames and Ikea-like offerings, but I want custom sizes and combinations, and I want it for like $20. It seems ludicrous to me to spend $5 on a cheap thing but $100 if I need it custom-sized.

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.

I'm definitely the same use case as you. I feel like there will be a lot of people who feel similarly. Post-college but still frugal is how I think of myself.

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.

I haven't checked this out in detail yet, but $100 sounds reasonable. I had several works custom framed this year and they all cost between $100 and $200 each, with a discount.

what are some good places that people get some cheap posters from? especially to get some custom posters printed from an image.

What I'd like is to be able to enter the dimensions of my print, let's say 10x10in and no more options: a kind of ikea product, -4 sides of the frame, the sides are made of wood alone, that I can assemble like legos, the cheapest wood with a natural feeling -matting (calculated on the size of print)

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.

This is becoming a very competitive space recently, We launched http://www.mountary.com in March (yes I am a founder) to address the same problem and have been shipping orders across the US for that amount of time. A lot of people we have dealt with wouldn't know where to start when looking to frame a piece. We are making it super easy.

Good concept, needs work.

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.

Just tried a random size (24x36, + 3 inch matting, other things default) and tried to match it in a German manufacturers webshop.

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.

Related sidebar: last week I was on holiday and took some nice landscape photographs. They were nice enough that I had a few people on my social networks ask if I could frame them.

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?

Well, here's the thing: "backing" is considered antithetical to proper framing, for the most part. That may be less of a concern with digital prints (no matter the medium), since those prints can easily be recreated as necessary, but full-surface mounting to a rigid substrate is not a reversible process; once it's done, it's done. And while that may be good enough for most people most of the time (for decorative applications or commercial display) it's not something that anyone who is selling into the "fine art" world would touch with a ten-foot (or three-metre) pole. Conservationally-sound framing (with reversible hinges, etc.) is fiddly, time-consuming stuff and requires a lot of horizontal storage space for drying, etc., between stages. And you'd have to deal with expensive and easy-to-break museum glass if you offer glossy prints. Since the market is largely dry-mount or frame, and framing is the fiddly, expensive and (relatively) low-margin part of the trade, that's the easier option to drop.

There's a fascinating amount of detail here that the home/prosumer photographer is unaware of. There's also an impressive amount of manual work. I'm not sure, but that kind of sounds like a startup opportunity to me.

We'll soon be able to print and frame your photos - and thinking about making them available (opt-in of course) for other people to purchase. Would love to know if that interests you (or anyone else here). Also feel free to sign up for the newsletter on the site (the bottom button in the footer at www.levleframes.com) to stay posted. And hanks for sharing that experience!

I just dropped a couple $k on framing. So I love this idea And agree it's crazy over priced. . Although I do wish I could do more customizations. Like matte color. The matte with the color stripe. Stuff like that , hope you get there

It's rapidly becoming a pet peeve of mine whenever someone calls an unexpectedly hard domain and the appropriately high-priced businesses that grew around servicing problems in that domain a "racket". It's just plain intellectual laziness.

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.

It is hard for people to understand why custom framing costs so much. Can you explain why it is often so expensive?

So it's traditionally been a very high-touch service with the need for retail overhead. Most frame shops carry way too many supplies/options, and outsource a portion of the work (which accounts for the delay). They are also geographically limited in terms of the business they can do, and get most of it on the weekends when people have time to stop by. So there's a lot of margin in the price above the cost of the components. Having said that, custom framers can do amazing things, and the word "racket" was used mainly for the headlines. The fit for Levle is creating a super high-quality and great looking frame for that $20-$60 print or poster that doesn't need the expertise of a master framer.

This is a problem that I've experienced myself. I came up with a practical frame recipe for me and my ol' table saw, but it isn't for everybody. And it never occurred to me that it could be the basis of an Internet business. So, hats off to you, and I hope it's successful.

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?

Challenge - Upload a photo of the print, see it in frame.

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.

Have you considered letting the customer upload an image of their artwork so they can get an idea of what it will look like even better?.

Love the UX btw.

There's a site I use when I'm in Malaysia visiting my in-laws that's worth checking out: Frambie.com -- they go a step further in that direction, and focus on printing & framing digital photos that you upload.

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).

yes, working on it, and right now can do it manually if someone emails the site or uses the chat box. very nice and richer experience when you have the image (e.g. - https://www.levleframes.com/artists/joey-roth/frame?levle_id...)

Yeah that is pretty much what I was thinking.

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 :).

Will these frames work with mounted photo prints like styrene or masonite mounted prints from https://www.whcc.com/products/prints/photographic-prints#det...? All I can find in the FAQ is "Artwork should be paper-based".

Haven't seen that yet but we can probably accomodate -- would just need you to email/chat and specify what you are framing.

Your post made me immediately go measure a print I have hanging on my wall by binder clips because I got excited to finally put that print in a frame for a reasonable price...

...and was immediately let down when the price was pretty much just as expensive as a regular framer. Womp.

I prefer to get a standard size from IKEA and then a custom mat from www.americanframe.com

Clicking on the upper left logo (I was trying to return home) opens a new browser tab--not cool at all.

Other than that and a few other trivial issues, the site looks great. Can't wait to try it out.

Thank you for this... what great execution to an issue you wanted to solve!

One question, where do you source your "best bet" suggestions from?

So framing is mostly subjective, but there a fair amount of science and best practice can be applied. Based on the size of the artwork, there are some "golden ratios" around how thick the mat and the frame should be. The Best Bet button employs a simple algorithm that will give you the recommended configuration. More room to optimize this, but main goal was to have one button that would get you to something good looking if you are not an experienced framer.

I have an upsell for you to consider. However, a small word of caution regarding artists - they are like herding cats and as the legendary Paul Graham discovered, quite hard to base a start up around! However...

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.

when entering dimensions the warning box for it being too high or too low will not close. I can't figure out how to do it?

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?

I was hoping to be able to frame a 51" wide panorama I have...but I was disappointed.

This is a great problem, that you simplified a lot, but it's still expensive!

No, it's really not. It's about 50% more than you'd pay for a shitty, cheap frame, and half the cost of a custom frame.

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.

It may be cheaper than similar offerings, but it is still expensive. The thing that jumped out at me from his writeup is the initial problem he was trying to solve - framing a piece of art without paying 10x the price of the art or more. It doesn't _feel_ like he accomplished that, even if he technically did by bringing it down to 3 or 5x.

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.
Fair point. I'm framing hand-made photographs (i.e. made in a wet darkroom) with a retail cost measured in the hundreds of dollars, not posters or prints purchased from art.com. It's totally reasonable that you wouldn't want to pay more for the frame than what's in it.

    a shitty frame
Chipboard, particle board. That sort of thing.

Makes sense. Most of my art is $20-40 prints bought to support artists at conventions and a simple pine frame would do the trick. Eventually I'll just cut my own.

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.

We must shop at different shitty, cheap frame stores. I'd expect to pay more like $10 for a shitty, cheap frame in which to put my shitty, cheap poster.

I'm framing 16x20" silver gelatin prints that I mounted at 20x24". It's not possible to find a 20x24" frame for $10 anywhere (outside, possibly, of a thrift store).

I spend a huge amount of money on picture frames. When I'm putting together a show, my expenses for frames easily break $1000.

Just a note: On your website, numpad keystrokes are rejected as not numbers.

Win7, FF32

Same issue on Ubuntu Chrome. Definitely annoying and made me assume that it's broken. Better to avoid validating the input until the person either blurs or submits, imho.

+1. Mac/Safari 7.1, if that helps.

Edit: seems to be working for me, now.

Same on OSX, Chrome.

And Windows 8, Chrome.

appreciate this very much, working on it!

I'm still vaguely annoyed at what the term "hustler" has come to mean. I still associate it with the same definition as "charlatan."

Very glad to see this. The profit margins for framing were ripe to be targeted. Would like to see similar services for lampshades and curtains, both of which have unwarranted high markup.

Exactly. The two products you mention are similar also in the fact that a traditional e-commerce paradigm (thumbnails and drop downs) don't quite map to the way you want to preview and select them. So much room for Levle to grow and become more intuitive/helpful to getting the right frame for your art up on the wall.

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