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PPFA Certification?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by David Piper, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. David Piper

    David Piper Guest

    Hello All,

    I have a general question for the group. I am looking to get certified eventually to assist my wife with her photography business. I know the PPFA website states you need to work in the field for a year before you can test, but are there any exceptions? I work a full time job right now with 12 hour shifts. I have framed some of her work for techniques that I learned on different site on the internet. I am very interested in this, and it makes me feel good to compliment her work.

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  2. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I don’t know anything about the PPFA’s certification process so I can’t help with that question, but I am wondering why you would need to rush the process. There is nothing requiring you to be a CPF to help your wife’s business. If you don’t know anything about framing you could take classes, work with another framer or study the materials the PPFA offers. If the PPFA requires a year of experience, just take the test in a year when you have the experience. I might be missing something though, so I’ll check back in for any further clarifications.

    wldman likes this.
  3. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    There may be more specific knowledge available at http://www.ppfacorner.com/forum.php.

    If you're a PPFA member you will have access to the whole site, but even if not, there are some open forums that you can post such a question in and you should get some answers.
  4. Andrew Lenz Jr.

    Andrew Lenz Jr. MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I'm sure the PPFA wants to be sure that you have practical experience and not just the theoretical knowledge that the CPF test requires. They don't want CPFs running around who have never cut a mat, for instance.

  5. David Piper

    David Piper Guest

    I am not a paid member yet, but I am registered on the forum. I don't know why I haven't looked on there yet.. I do have a mat cutter and have cut several mats for some of her photos. I was looking to add more value to our work. I have been studying some material, and I am planning on purchasing the recommended learning materials from the CPF study guide. You guys are right I have plenty of time to get some more experience before taking the test....
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2016
  6. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Learning to frame properly is what it is about, not just become certified. Start with taking basic classes. Join ppfa and go to some meetings. It is a good start
    Mike Labbe likes this.
  7. David Piper

    David Piper Guest

    Thanks Everyone.. I will do that soon as I can. I really do enjoy framing, and look forward to learning more. I am going to look around the net now. I should be able to since she is taking her college classes too...

    John Ranes II CPF GCF likes this.
  8. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    In my opinion a qualification means diddly squat what is more important is experience and doing things the correct way. There is far more to running a framing business than what can be be tested by a professional exam not just how to make frames and assemble them but equally important in my opinion if not more is the business side of things making sure you stay in business.

    I have been a framer for 20 yrs now and never been on a course or sat an exam in all that time.
    framestudio and wldman like this.
  9. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Indeed Andrew, they also don't want people to be disappointed in not qualifying after the expense and time, so it's a bit of a speed bump if you will.

    The real experience of working in the industry is priceless, but when combined with exposure to the seminars and reading material, then one has a powerful formula for success. Obtaining certification simply is a confirmation to your customers and yourself that you are on the right track.

    David... you will know when you are ready to go for it. :)
  10. bruce papier

    bruce papier MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I would encourage you to get the education and get certified. However, I bought a picture frame shop and learned to frame (in that order) in 1984 and have been busy enough that I kinda never got around to doing either.
  11. ali

    ali CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I would not look at being certified as being anything special.

    I have owned and operated many successful frame shops in the past 30 years and am not certified or never taken a class of any sort.

    the only benefit i see from being certified is the resources from the community you have access to shall you need advice on a special project.

    How ever if you already know what to do then a certification is really just a piece of paper saying your qualified to do it but even that wont lead me to believe a person is qualified.

    Experience trumps all.

    In no way shape or form did a ppfa certification help my business at all in the last 30 years. So IMO dont waste your time. because that is a dying orginization.
    Melinda Tennis and neilframer like this.
  12. David Hewitt

    David Hewitt CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I admire people who challenge themselves to certification. They challenged themselves with a test (Not to mention time, effort and costs) to verify the skills that they have learned and practice in their chosen profession. Then they obligate themselves to more continued education, time, expense, and recertification's. They do this to verify their knowledge with changing and proven industry procedures.

    Currently we are planning our strategies for withdrawal of our life's saving as we reach retirement. We have taken many classes on the subject all by people with credentials and current knowledge of subjects related to our interests. We feel confident that we are avoiding costly mistakes by working with a team of certified professionals.
    Trust me, with 60,000 pages in our tax codes you want someone on your side that has been tested and keeps up with the changes. For me it's been that way with most anything I do that involves our health, home, cars, whatever. I demand, expect, and pay for professionalism.

    I have 33 years in this profession, and I am a life long learner. I have never taken a class on a subject, that I felt I knew well, that didn't offer something to better my skillset.
    I can tell you I have visited many framers over the years. (Most thought certification was a waste, and who has time for education they would say.) Most are quite eager to tell me how great they are, how high their standards are, and the exceptional services they offer the customer.
    Within minutes I will see or hear things that would make you cringe. They simply don't know what they don't know.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2016
  13. Andrew Lenz Jr.

    Andrew Lenz Jr. MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Not really. It's good experience and education trumps all. Doing the same bad thing for 20 years isn't better than doing the right thing for only 5 years. I'd know who I would hire and it wouldn't be the 20 year framer.

    I cut my first mat in a commercial frame shop on a C&H manual mat cutter 37 years ago as a pre-teen. If I wasn't reading magazines and books, contacting industry experts, participating in online forums, going to trade shows, my framing wouldn't have progressed and would have stagnated.

    You mean the LACK of PPFA certification didn't hurt your business. There's a difference. And I respectfully disagree. Advertising that you are CPF is a boost, not a hindrance, to sales. It may not be a huge boost, but a boost. And the reading all the materials recommended for the CPF test is something I wish all of my staff would do. It would make them better framers.

    The PPFA will almost certainly outlive all of us. Its death has been predicted numerous times but it still seems to survive decade after decade.

  14. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Ylva and Mike Labbe like this.
  15. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Treatment techniques and standards are always changing, and certification/re-certification keeps a framer current with the newest information. We learn new things every year and what was done 5 or 10 years ago is not necessarily good as a minimum today. I see it as a small investment in ongoing education, and a way to lessen the likelihood of a lawsuit because we used methods that potentially cause damage to a customers art.

    It's all that we have for the industry, and is very important, IMO. Many customers look for this when shopping for a framer, and it gives them confidence that the framer knows the latest techniques. The best way or high preservation isn't necessarily appropriate for every job, but knowing and offering the customer professional advice and options is a good thing.
  16. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    So Mike just because I don't go to a seminar on the latest techniques means that I can't keep upto date?
  17. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    No Grays... it can be done, but the deck is stacked against you (regardless if you believe it or not).

    What Mike is saying Grays is that the certification program not only benefits you as a framer, but also offers a level of confidence for your potential customers. Note the key word, potential, as because your current work brings confidence to your existing customers.

    If two potential framer employees came knocking on my door...both had equivalent hours/years of experience and training, but one was Certified by either the FATG or PPFA, I would definitely be leaning towards hiring the person with the credentials.

  18. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    My point was is that you can keep upto date with current techniques by being involved in forums and informal groups with other framers.

    If I was to hire staff I would be looking for one with commercial framing experience and probably one who was able to adapt to my way of working not someone set in their ways.

    The problem with both examination programs is that they are to centred on high street/bespoke framing which if you look in terms of turnover is only a fraction of the industry as a whole.
    FramerInTraining likes this.
  19. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    i have never been asked if i have any kind of certification EVER. i don't really do preservation framing. thats not my market

    if i was a high street framer doing high street bespoke jobs its would be very different.

    my customers are photographers wanting their work printed and framed to a very good standard at a sensible price, as they are 99% for resale by the photographer.

    so for example if i was to only offer them museum quality cotton fibre board mounts i would price myself out of the market and they would go elsewhere

    can someone give me an example of a major technique that has changed in say the past 5 years, that i would of seen only through certification?
    FramerInTraining likes this.
  20. IFGL

    IFGL SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It's a secret.
    CarrieKaos likes this.
  21. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Once again, it is not about the certification although it can be used very successfully in marketing.

    What puzzles me most is the reaction of framers who feel they don't need to take classes, don't need to see what is new, because they have been framing for so many years, so why change.

    I find that limiting. I have only been framing for 8 years. I did not take the certification test yet. I read everything I can lay my hands on. I go to most ppfa chapter meetings and always learn something new, or refresh my memory.

    If I ever think I can't learn anything new, punch me.
  22. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    From an education standpoint, if you can, try to go to the WCAF /PPFA convention and classes. Combined they probably offer more than 120 classes.

    Concerning the certification, I believe there are three major benefits.

    First, is studying the materials. And you may realize that proper framing techniques are different than what you have been taught in the past. Reading and studying and comprehending these are probably the best benefit.

    Second is being able to use the PPFA certification in your advertisements and promotions, once you pass.

    Third, being able to say you passed. I may be wrong, but I believe I heard that about 25% don't pass the first time. Don't know if that is the right number, but it is more difficult than you expect.

    For those that will never try to be PPFA [or FATG] certified; that is okay, but I would strongly recommend you at least buy and study the materials so you have the knowledge.
    FramerInTraining and GUMBY GCF like this.
  23. IFGL

    IFGL SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I don't think anyone is saying they aren't learning or researching, the actual certification is the only thing in question, I am a PPFA member, I might even do the test and get the accreditation more for me I than anything else though.
  24. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    no one said anything about not learning. but certification isn't the only way of learning by any shape of the imagination.

    and not doing certification does not mean not taking classes. it does mean not buying into or having the conviction in the certification system.

    i am new to the business really, about 8-10 years or so.

    actually in my business customers as i said have never asked for certification ever. but last week i had a discussion with a photographer who is talking about me doing all his printing and framing. about 70K a year worth. first thing he asked was who else do i work for. he wanted to know i was doing work for his peers and that they were happy with the standards.
  25. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    i agree with the learning, deff its important, as is discussing with peers.

    i don't know about the ppfa, but i know with the fatg NONE of my customers i have spoken to have ever heard of never mind concerned themselves with

    i am planning on going to wcaf in jan for classes as the trade show doesn't really help a business in ireland.

    places like here are as much about learning as discussion some daft political stuff. i have learn lots here, also seen lots of biased information marketed too
  26. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Trying to decide if responding is even worth it... Well for those undecided about belonging to an Association, and/or becoming Certified... YES. But for the two folks below, I'm not sure that they see the big picture...

    So in other words...you only value those venues that are free and don't involve commitment or membership.

    So why do you think that a potential framer who has earned Certified credentials is "Set in their ways"? I think that is an odd assumption.

    And you wouldn't care if they brought with them, some more advanced skills and experiences to your business? So that if one of your customers brought in something beyond your expertise, this knowledgeable staff member might be able to assist your business?

    Indeed a high street bespoke framer would be more apt to know a more varied set of skills... and many custom framers here on this forum fall exactly into that category.

    And that is exactly what both test focus on.... some knowledge is required in many areas of our industry - testing for more than one specific skill.

    Actually, Your customers might not... but it is up to us as business owners to inform our customers of our credentials in conversation, door stickers, and advertising. Think about this for a second: When you take your VW into the mechanic for a tune-up, you don't take notice of the "Authorized-Certifed VW Service Center" sticker on the entrance door?

    You will love it... both WCAF Seminars and PPFA Seminars are available to all attendees. This show was founded on the premise that EDUCATION came first and supported the TRADE SHOW.

    Last edited: Oct 9, 2016
    Tudor Rose and GUMBY GCF like this.
  27. ali

    ali CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    just to clarify

    we specialize in museum framing i am also a government contractor who has framed many of the governments priceless possessions and while they do request for certain certifications in their contracts i have never been asked to produce one.
    Neither i or any of my 10 employees are certified, i have nothing against it i believe furthering your education can only be beneficial.

    I simply stated that in my eyes it is obsolete because the organization is not as dominant as it once was and it has never benefited me in the last 30 years of business to even attempt to have any one certified.

    I do not hire people based on certifications i hire them based on experience, you can show me all the degrees and tell me all the stories you want but my hiring process is show me what you can do dont tell me.

    Also my awarded contracts have never been based on certification but on past performance so i stand by what i said "experience trumps all"

    because if you have been cutting a matte wrong for the last 20 years because you never learned the right way you must be living in a lonely world.
  28. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I didn't single anyone out, but read back to what some said
    "Experience is everything" "I have never taken a course"

    I don't think everyone needs to be certified. But why the resistance to take some classes? How many times have you taken something in, done by another framer and the techniques used ruined the art?

    Don't you sometimes wish that framing was a bit more of a protected profession? Not something basically anyone could start and call themselves a framer?
    How does a customer know, a new customer, that you know how to handle their art?

    Not saying that CPF is the answer to everything. I am not a cpf but hope one day to be.
    Grey Owl likes this.
  29. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    No one is saying not needing to learn we all need to learn new things everyday is a school day to me. But a formal qualifications (which in the case of the gcf is nothing more than a basic compliance test) isn't the only way to learn.

    My business is a commercial framer with contracts within the health care and hospitality sectors. I don't need to know how to conservation frame a cross stitch I will never frame one in those sectors. However I would like to know the best work flow to manufacture 300 frames in the shortest possible time and most cost effectively without compromising on style and aesthetics.

    I have read the study guide for the gcf and various books on framing but I found the level information quite basic. I also found that nothing that I do would reach any guild standards but yet my customers are more than happy with what I do.

    Again I come back to the point this industry is far greater than the very narrow spectrum that all the trade associations and educators cater for.

    A certificate in such a narrow field of the industry really isn't that important to all of us.
  30. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    i joined the fatg, and found it wasn't for me or my business. i am happy to pay for membership of something that does benefit my business.

    firstly i don't go to a VW centre because i drive a range rover :). but secondly i just assume they know what they are doing, never bothered asking and never been told. I would not change or influence who i go to either. there is a big discussion in education at the movement about teaching children practical skills instead of teaching them how to pass an exam. i think thats really relevant here.

    I am looking forward to education and inspiration at wcaf

    as for seeing the big picture. my business is busier than i can handle. growing at stupid rates. last year turn over was up by 50% and profit up by 35%. what part of the big picture am i missing?
    graysalchemy likes this.
  31. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    i have never dealt with any reframing, thats not what i do at all. i print photos and art, mount and frame. thats it.

    do i wish framing was a more protected profession - **** no, there are not enough you people coming into this business as it is. and i believe a lot of that is to do with it being shown as a business for retired people and slow to react businesses.

    not all customers want heirlooms framed or things to even last for that long. i mean a lots of frames i make will be thrown in the bin when they redecorate.
    graysalchemy likes this.
  32. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Does anyone actually read?

    As I stated. Certification in itself might not be important. Education is. Why the resistance to a test if you already took the education?

    Not everything on that test, or the educational materials, will be relevant to all. It can't be.
    Grey Owl likes this.
  33. ali

    ali CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I think some of us are trying to say if you already know what you are doing and its working its a waste of time.
    graysalchemy likes this.
  34. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    But for those customers who come in with that heirloom, or that high end art, would you still not want that protected profession?

    Everyone only looks at their own business models. Limiting.
  35. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    nope i send them to another framer, say i don't specialise in this kind of work. they actually respect me for that
    graysalchemy likes this.
  36. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    no your missing the point. education is changing. learning to pass a test, is being discussed as the wrong way to educate. learning by experience is being seen as way more effective.

    wasn't there a discussion here recently about reading material for the test being out of date?
    graysalchemy and ali like this.
  37. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I am the same as Steve. If I have something that doesn't fit my model I pass on it. Though I have framed to museum standard framing for exhibitions with total price tags of over £500k. I am quite capable of doing. But at the moment I choose not to a pursue a more lucrative commercial trade.

    Having a certificate would not make the slightest difference to my business. If I did decide to take on something I was unsure of I would talk to one of my network of framing friends which include two framers who work for national museums.

    I have seen to many times inexperienced framers with proud qualifications out of their depth thankfully asking for advice. But my point is how many don't ask for advice because they believe their training and qualification stands above the rest of us (that was the opinion of the Fat G and still is of many of its senior members).

    A little knowledge is dangerous with out experience.
  38. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Nope, I am not missing the point. I believe in learning any which way I can. I am not saying that test is everything. I also don't think 'experience' is everything.

    I do believe that knowing when to say no to a job is important.

    I have seen CPFs whose techniques are not as they should be. I also agree that not every job needs conservation. Or that every business is the same.

    But being against a test just because it is a test seems silly
  39. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I have to disagree experience is worth more than any exam. That's why experience is always valued in every walk of life.

    Examination needs to mean something some are not worth the paper the are written on.
  40. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    That is not what I said. I didn't compare the two as one being less important than the other.

    I just don't believe experience is everything as it can make people blind.

    Same goes for tests.

    I believe in knowledge.
  41. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Well that's were we can agree. As I said everyday is a school day I learn something everyday. It's just not through a formal training program.
  42. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    sorry Ylva. i wasn't saying work experience instead of a test. what i am talking about is that in education at present (i come from 15 years working in education) it is being looked at the best way to teach is not by having a set of knowledge that people have to just regurgitate for a test (which is basically what the cps is a a multiple choice).

    what the system has recognised is that learning through hands on doing things is a stronger more beneficial way of learning. thats why kids are now being assessed throughout the school year for example. why they are being asked to do more project work, where they put into practice what they have learned in class

    i am not anti tests at all, but recognise that they are by no means the most effective way of learning.

    I am strongly all for learning like yourself.
  43. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I would have thought better of you John than to make a remark like that. Just because I happen to have a different view point doesn't mean I don't see the bigger picture.

    As I keep stating in this thread education is everything everyday is a school day, I just don't agree that the PPFA or the FATG is the best way for everyone or all sectors of our industry.

    To simply say that I don't see the 'bigger picture' with out having an understanding of my business and its needs is pretty crass.
  44. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I try to gain as much knowledge as I possibly can. Some of it is through taking PPFA classes at our local chapter. Some of it is on framer forums and groups. Some of it is from books and instructional videos. Some of it is from talking to peers.

    Going to PPFA meetings gives me a little bit of everything. We are blessed to have a very strong local chapter with a lot of framers I love to see and talk with.

    I have all the books to study for the test. A lot of it doesn't apply to my little business. The most important reason, for me, to take it at some point is to market the heck out of it.
  45. Andrew Lenz Jr.

    Andrew Lenz Jr. MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I'll agree that production framers are probably fine without a CPF hanging on their wall. But that's a very small subsection of framers. While not all CPFs will frame a piece properly, they should at least know how to do it properly even if they choose to do otherwise—perhaps at customer insistence. I've seen customer mats manually cut by a (at one time) local CPF with significant overcuts, but I've also seen a local non-CPF framer hinge artwork with masking tape. One of those is the much greater sin.

  46. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I have seen many GCF's committing the masking tape crime worse still not even hinging but taping the picture on all sides and using cream core mountboard. For someone who has a certificate and trades on the fact that they have and the fact that they are better than those of us who don't, this is a far worse crime than someone who is less educated and has made an honest mistake.
  47. Andrew Lenz Jr.

    Andrew Lenz Jr. MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I don't know enough about the GCF program, but you'd be very hard pressed to find a CPF using masking tape. I've never seen one using it and even then it becomes an integrity issue, not a knowledge issue.

    I do agree that it's possible for a nonCPF to be a better framer than a CPF, but the CPF certificate proves beyond any doubt a certain baseline of knowledge. On average, I believe CPFs are better framers than those without CPF certification. (On average. There are exceptions to just about everything.) If someone is going to go through the trouble of taking the test, that alone proves that they are taking their craft seriously.

  48. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I have to agree with you a little there but it does depend on the level and quality of the exam. The GCF is quite basic not really much more than a basic test of competence. The problem with it is that new framers take the test and all of a sudden feel they can conquer the world with it. You can have all the qualifications in the world but unless you practice the skills taught and come accross re life scenario's and problems then it is only another piece of paper. Experience is what is the key and that only comes from being on the job. Unfortunately the GCF used to be promoted as a 'qualification that set you apart from the rest' a piece of paper doesn't do that but experience can.

    Hopefully the new continual professional development program will encourage better development of those who wish to pursue the GCF route.
  49. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Graysalchemy, I agree that Experience is what is the key, if the experience is good experience and not bad experience. Kind of like 10 years of experience vs. 1 year of experience 10 times. I have met framers in both categories.

    And I believe the GCF continual professional development program is a great step towards continued improvement of good experience.
  50. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I think the GCF CPD can only be seen as a good thing, however it is only applicable to new GCF's and not compulsory to those with the older qualification. That is a bit sad really as it is not uncommon for those with an older GCF to be practicing bad techniques simply because they haven't kept upto date, just like any framer. However many of these people still trade on the fact that they are supposedly better framers, that is the reason why many of you take it for marketing purposes.

    IMHO the Guild should either have made it compulsory (which would be difficult) or re brand the qualification and offered the older qualification holders a path to the new scheme.
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