At Citizen Atelier, we always love meeting people who have a shared love of art. Simply Framed founder Dara Deshe Segal and I first connected back in 2014 when we were both launching on our online companies; I was inspired by her passion for helping consumers, artists and gallerists find the right frame to make their art shine.
Formerly a merchandiser for Facebook Gifts, 20×200.com and American Eagle, Dara launched Simply Framed in 2014 with a clear goal in mind: to make custom framing more convenient and less expensive for consumers, artists and art businesses alike. This fall, we were thrilled to launch our new framing feature consisting of her classic selection of high quality gallery encadrements.
I recently chatted with the visionary entrepreneur about her art collection, framing tips, and more!
What inspired you to launch Simply Framed?
I’ve always loved collecting art, but the biggest obstacle to showcasing my collection was the expensive and time-consuming chore of custom framing. I had personally tried everything, from going to local frame shops to big-box stores, to combining a big-box frame with a custom mat, and all of the running around was driving me crazy. I often found myself unhappy with my choices, feeling like the sales associate led me toward something trendy instead of timeless. I talked with friends and colleagues and they said they felt the same way: that it often took months—if not years—to rally the time and energy to get their artwork framed. This inspired me to create a different kind of online custom framing service that was convenient, affordable and available from home.
As a creative, how would you describe your philosophy on collecting art?
Art should make you happy. I don’t think the style really matters, it should just be something you love and will continue to love the longer you own it. And whenever possible, try to buy directly from a living artist or from their current gallery, so that you can verify the authenticity of the work.
Since we partner with many professional artists, photographers and galleries to help them integrate framing into their own businesses, I am always uncovering new artists that I love. Supporting this community by collecting new work is really important to me personally. It’s also fun. I have a lot of paintings, photographs, prints and illustrations on my walls at home that are very meaningful to me and to my family because I have a personal connection to the artist. But being honest, my most recent “acquisition” is an incredible marker doodle created by my 2-year old son, Miles. It’s going to hang near a print by Paula Scher. I embrace the the high-low mix.
I also always encourage people to think about framing items that are not “art” in the traditional sense—a vintage scarf, a cool postcard, a concert or movie ticket from an early date with your now life-partner. They’re objects that might be hiding in drawers now, but in a beautiful custom frame, they elevate to become special objects in a home and help you live amongst your stories and passions.
Why is a frame so integral to a piece of artwork?
I like to think that we are in the business of spreading the joy of art. A frame is necessary for you to put your piece up on your wall and enjoy it every day. I think a lot of people probably have a poster or print rolled up in their closet that they just haven’t gotten around to dealing with. Or there might be a personal memento (your wedding invitation, a school diploma) that comes into a new light when framed and hung on your wall.
Our frames are all pretty classic and designed to let the artwork be the focus. They create a subtle accent that lets your piece be the star. Another bonus is that they all come with UV-filtering plexi—so they actually also preserve and protect your artwork as well.
The art-buying process can be pretty intimidating to some; and that includes finding the right frame to enhance and preserve a piece. How do you guide Simply Framed customers through the framing experience?
Our web experience was designed to guide you step by step. First, we ask what you are framing. Then we recommend the frame, mat and backing based on your previous selection. At the end, we give our customers a space to share any questions or ideas they have. We try to marry an in-person experience with the convenience of online—and I think that’s why we’ve had success. Clients think of Simply Framed as “their framer,” and we’re really proud of that. We frequently call our clients and have one to one conversations with them. We’re human, just like our clients!
What’s your go-to frame style?
You can’t go wrong with our classic White Gallery Frame—it’s timeless and perfect for just about every type of art. There are also a few styles that are very unique to Simply Framed, like our Max Plexibox frames, which are amazing for textiles and original works on paper. We are also about to launch Simply Framed Black Label, a new collection of handmade frames that are extremely refined and unmatched by anything available currently online. I am continually floored by the craftsmanship of these frames—they are almost art in and of themselves! I have already started using Black Label frames for some of my original works on paper and fine-art photographs.
Any particular trends we’re bound to see in 2018?
We’re seeing more of our customers choose to hang one large-scale work versus doing a gallery wall with multiple smaller works. We can frame works up to 40″x60″ (and even go up to 48″x72″ for Black Label), and that size makes for an awesome statement in a home. I also think you’ll be seeing more all-plexi frames like our Max Plexibox as an alternative to the classic frame styles we’ve all come to know and love. And ultra thin Metal frames, too.
What’s next for Simply Framed?
We are opening our first showroom in Denver, Colorado. It is so exciting to us that we’ll have a presence in our local community. Hopefully we can get a work from Citizen Atelier on the walls! And as I mentioned previously, we will be launching Simply Framed Black Label, our exclusive new handmade frame collection. And as always, we will continue to focus on making improvements to our services for both our retail customers and our Pro clients.
Click here for more information on Citizen Atelier x Simply Framed framing.
(All photos courtesy of Simply Framed)