You’ve found the perfect frame for your new piece of local art. You are sure it will match everything else in your living room. Then you get it home. And it looks totally out of place.
An artist with a keen-eye for frames is on the move to help Columbus residents end this guessing-game. With his mobile frame box, Doug Trott of Out of the Box Custom Framing will bring the framing options right to you. Trott wants customers to see exactly how their framed piece will look right where they intend to hang them.
Out of the Box Framing is officially on-the-go with a recent website launch and plans to have December’s Holiday Hop as the official kick-off.
Trott recently answered our questions about the innovative service, being the only one of its kind in Columbus, and how budding art collectors and local artists alike can get out of the box.
Q: Tell us about your background as it relates to Out of the Box Framing and how you came up with the concept.
I’m the son of a carpenter. Growing up, my father and I always built things together and I attribute all of my woodworking knowledge to him. About four years ago, I found my passion in photography and a year and half in, I landed my first gallery show. I knew that it was time to get to work making picture frames. As the shows came, so did the different materials and techniques I used, quickly becoming an art form all their own.
While working at a chain store as a custom framer, I noticed a recurring problem customers were having when framing their artwork: they had no idea what it would look like in their house. After hearing it over and over, I asked myself,“What if frame shops made house calls?” I knew that it was time to get to work making a framing box. Eight months of prototyping, planning, sourcing, and designing later, things are finally ready to move forward.
Q: Walk us through the customer experience for Out of the Box Framing. Who is your target customer?
First, the customer schedules a complimentary appointment with me through my website for a date and time that is convenient to them. I arrive at the customer’s house with my custom-built framing box, which holds all of my available frame and mat board options, and begin to design their frame with them. Once a design is decided upon, I bring the art back to my studio. During this time customers are kept up to date on the status of their frame each step of the way (materials ordered/received, frame assembled/completed). Upon completion of the framed piece, the customer is contacted to schedule a time to have the final product delivered.
As far as target customers go, I have two targets, the first of which are local artists. We have such an amazing and diverse artist community here in Columbus that I feel is being undeserved by the current framing market in a number of ways that I feel I can address. My second target customer is younger (25 – 35) and has an interest in art, but hasn’t thought about having things professionally framed in the past. Ultimately I want to serve as a connection between those that love art and the local artists that create it.
Q: What made you decide to take the service mobile instead of a brick-and-mortar store?
I noticed while working as a custom framer at a chain store that one of the biggest complaints I received while working with people on the design was their inability to picture the completed piece in their home. By being able to shop from the room the piece is going to hang, it makes the whole process much easier for people to envision. Plus, in today’s economy, if you aren’t doing something different than your competitors, you aren’t doing anything.
Q: What special types of frames and artist discounts do you offer?
I offer hand-crafted real wood frames from three different materials:
Oak. Oak frames focus on the beauty of the highly-defined wood grain that is naturally apparent in Oak. Currently available in six different finishes, I am exploring additional colors and techniques.
Bamboo. Bamboo frames are one of my eco-friendly framing options. The material is manufactured from the trunks of the moso bamboo grass, a rapidly renewable and self-sustaining resource. While it has a very subtle grain, it features a unique stacked effect along the side and rabbet of the frame that other woods don’t have.
Kirei Board. Kirei Board frames are my second eco-friendly framing option. Kirei Board is a composite panel board manufactured from reclaimed stalks of the sorghum plant, poplar wood fibers, and a no-added formaldehyde adhesive. The sorghum stalks used to produce Kirei Board are a rapidly renewable resource, left after the edible portion of the plant has been harvested. Definitely my most unique and eye-catching wood, it features an incredibly prominent wood grain that is great for bringing out texture in art.
While not exclusive to Out of the Box like the above options, I do offer a wide range of Nielsen aluminum frames with six different profiles and 32 colors.
Local artists will get 15 percent off every order as long as they are framing their own work. The only stipulation being that they must be able to prove that they are an actively practicing artist (website, blog, show announcement, facebook page, etc.). Additionally, they have the option to have a page under the local artist section of my website that will have images of completed frames, a quick bio, and all contact information that customers can browse when looking for new pieces of art.
Q: What opportunities and challenges have you experienced starting a small business in Columbus?
The biggest problem I’ve experienced thus far is just getting the word out about the service. Being mobile is both an advantage and a drawback in this way, as there is no brick-and-mortar store to see all the time and help reinforce brand recognition. That being said, I think the opportunity for growth here is incredible if handled correctly. Consumers in our economy are moving away from one size fits all big box stores to more personalized, service-oriented, local businesses, and between the untapped local artist market and the general love of arts that the city of Columbus has, it’s going to be a very exciting journey to launch this business.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
With every picture frame sold, Out of the Box makes a donation to plant a tree. There is a lot of wood and paper waste created by the picture framing industry. I want to do what I can to at least offset my own impact on the environment.
Also, each referral to Out of the Box gets 10 percent off their first order and the referrer gets a credit of the same amount to their account to use on future orders.
For more information, visit outoftheboxframing.com.