Displaying customers framing projects in your shop.


PFG, Picture Framing God
Founding Member
Aug 12, 2000
San Diego, CA
On another thread, it was mentioned that the shop owner decided to display a customers project in his shop.

My feeling is that unless the customer knows you plan on doing this, and agrees that you can, you should not do it.

The project belongs to your customer, paid for or not. Displaying it, for all to see, without permission, is breaking a trust.

We are CUSTOM picture framers, we make things to our customers specifications, for them, and them alone.

It is much like if you came up with a design for a unique building, such as that famous domed structure back in the fifties ( I think ). You go to a model builder, he or she builds it, then displays your idea. How is your idea protected from a plagiarist?

The same holds true for custom framed pictures. A woman spends time with you designing a unique framing project for her home, you display it because she hasn't had time to pick it up. Her neighbor comes into your shop, sees her unique framing idea and does the same to her own picture, not knowing the idea came from the woman next door to her. How will the original designer feel when she sees her idea, on her neighbors wall?

I think you are actually leaving yourself open to a lawsuit by doing this. Displaying someone else's property, without their permission is never a good idea, even if the framing you have done is run of the mill. Your customer still believes it is something "special".

Interesting, John.

I think most would be flattered, but some may be offended, so I guess the safest approach would be just what you're suggesting.
I don't do it, either. Not for the reasons you gave, but because I just don't feel "right" about it. I am responsible for all the work left in my shop. By hanging something for display that belongs to someone else, I feel I am opening myself to the possibilty the item could be stolen or damaged.

As for design, I'm the one who designs the framing. The customers has input, but the creative stuff is 100% mine. I have not had a customer yet who has had an original idea. That's my job.
the shop i work in is quite small. so the larger things sometime are put in the front room where the designing is done. these items would take a couple folks to pick up and run out with. we find that our customers love the attention their piece gets. they have a sense of pride that other customers find their piece to be as great as they do. these pieces are safe and out of harms way in the room while they wait for their owners to retrieve them.
My vote goes with Ron and Jana. We have a cross stitch shop as I have mentioned many times before. Needleart is by no means the only thing we frame but it does make up most if not all of our models.We feel this helps us to show what a given pattern will look like when completed and we also try to use as many different styles of matting and moulding as good taste will allow to demonstrate what we are cabale of.It also helps to be able to show a client what we are talking about when we say things like V-groove,Double bevel ,Offset corners,etc.
We have on ocassions in the past contracted our better stitching customers to stitch some of these models. It is because of this that many if not all of our clients feel honored to see their work displayed on our walls.
We normally line up completed work waiting to be picked up in the front of the shop. Ocassionally due to either lack of space or fear that kids may tamper with a piece or just because we are very happy with the way it looks; we hang a few on the wall just to the right of this holding area.
So far ,needle work or not, every customer has been very proud to see their work displayed for all to see,.I guess it makes them feel that we think their work or taste is special.
My response was unclear, I guess.

I don't publicly display a customer's completed framing - partly 'cause I think someone might just be upset by it (though I don't believe they'd sue over it) but mostly 'cause my wall space is at a premium (what with 3,000 moulding samples.)

I will sometimes show a completed piece to another individual customer who I think might appreciate it or if it is relevant to the project at hand.
I used to set customers items out for everyone to see, but don't any more.

Since I moved into my new "shared" space, I now have a 4 year old boy and sometimes his friends, being 4 year olds around my items out front. I'm just waiting for a big crash one day! I do have set rules and explain them, upon arrival of any new visitor, but it's like talking to a 4 year old.

Also I found that other customers would pick up, not so large items and get finger prints and whatnot on the items. This got a little to scary for me.

I keep the customers items on a rack in my back room untill pick up.
Being home based I don't actually hang finished pieces up for display. Besides that most of my work I pick up and deliver. It's becouse of this I started photographing the finished pieces to build a portfolio to show prospective customers past work. By showing people my portfolio they know I photograph finished work. So far no one has asked me not to photograph theirs or objected. I think they appreciate seeing the work I've done and gain confidence in knowing I'll do a good job for them.
This is an interesting topic. I have had some pieces leaning up against the wall behind my design counter that are too big for under the counter and I am careful to not display the pick up ticket with the customers name/invoice on it in full view.

I think it is a privacy issue more than a legal issue. I do at times show a customer something under the counter as an example for a design I may be working on for them...

I had an interesting situation happen a while ago... I had a piece I was working on and one customer came in the back to look at something else and saw the the portrait I was working on and knew the couple. Small world. But the sad part was that the husband had recently died and this being a new customer for me - I did not know the personal aspect of this particular picture until my other customer said something. It was interesting as I would carefully choose my words with the new customer when she came to pick up her piece. I have to say I became very non-talkative as to not reveal my backdoor knowledge.

So I think it is especially important to respect the privacy aspect of not displaying personal items. Now, an artprint - could be anyone's and I will sit it so others can see it until it is picked up - but would never hang it without the customer's approval.

That's my 2-cent's worth!!

We're apparently in the minority; we display customer work on one wall of our front room; it's like a customer gallery. They expect it and look for it there when they come in for pickup.

We've found customers to be pleased and excited to see that their art was on display; we've also had many customers comment on what's showing and bring us something else to frame - "Remember the tin plate? Can you frame mine, too?"

This started as a space issue - with the saw, chopper and press along with everything else there really isn't room in the back. We've never had a security or safety issue with this; in fact I think it's another one of those things that sets us apart. If a customer ever asked to NOT display their work we'd certainly agree.

If I knew that a customer was coming in to pick up a piece that I thought scored high on the zowie scale, I would put it on an easel in front of the design counter so it would be the first thing they saw when they walked into the shop.

But the idea of leaving a customer's order hanging on the wall makes me nervous. I would hate to have to call and tell them that someone had walked off with their artwork.

We display every piece that we frame from beginning to end. In fact, when I moved into my new location that year, I used part of my more limited wall space just for that purpose. Not only does it give the owner of the frame job a feeling of pride, but the customer gets the full effect of quality workmanship and design by seeing it hanging on the wall. That "wall of fame" as we refer to it, also gives new customers a better sense of all that we are capable of doing; and we can use those framed pieces as samples to point out what a particular moulding looks like when made into a frame.
I, too, hang customer's work for them to see when they come in to pick it up. They love it and other customers like to see what I've been doing as well. I look at it as constantly changing shop samples. No one has ever complained but I did have a customer (who happens to be a lawyer) ask me if I had asked for my customers permission to hang the pieces that were on display. I hadn't and then we discussed the fact that these pieces were certificates and degrees and probably shouldn't be displayed without consent. I no longer hang documents without permission. Everything else automatically goes on the wall.