Do you sign your work?


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Jun 11, 2004
Edwardsburg, MI
I've recently begun to sign my work on the back dustcover. If I am not proud enough of the craftsmanship and design to put my name (signature) on the back of the work, it shouldn't go out my door.

I use a gold metallic pen on black kraft. I put:

Framed by: (Signature)
Hometown, State
Month, Year

After polling ten good customers only one felt it was pretentious to sign the work, but only if I signed it on the front!

Any work that is a "re-do" (someone else's work or design that I'm repairing, etc.) I do not sign.
More often than not I don't sign metal frames because I'm somewhat of a snob about metal and feel it is more commercial production stuff than a craft (Sorry, Nielson). Don't get me wrong, there is a place for metal and I sell quite a bit of it.

I've been in the framing business all my life and have never seen anyone else sign their work. Fine craftsmanship is an art. We need to constantly upgrade our abilities and be proud of the work we do.

What do ya'll think????

Dave Makielski
I don't have a problem with the concept - I put my name on a label on the back, along with a bunch of other information - but I'll bet your framing will outlast the dust seal.

Dust seals age badly (unless you're using the Lineco paper) and people remove them for various reasons. If the combination of gold metallic pen and black kraft becomes illegible, it kinda defeats the purpose.
We use Lineco's lignin free blue dustcover paper for everything. Our 2"x4" frame-back label, color laser-printed here, includes:

*Company logo & contact information
*Signature of fitter/final inspector
*Date of completion
*Registration (work order) number
*Check boxes for...
alphacellulose matting,
UV glass,
protective mounting,
protective fitting.

And there's a small box to write in details about the mount, handling instructions, or other info.
I include much of the information that Jim Miller does on the backer board under the dust cover. I figure that it is less likely to be lost or damaged there. Another framer opening the package will find the information on frame, glazing, mats, mounting, backing, date, and framer. A few of you who looked at my MCPF pieces have seen this. The outside of the dust cover gets a standard label with shop name, phone number and address.
I have a little sticker saying who I am, my business name and telephone number. I put my sticker on the backing board, and I place my business card on the dust cover.

I recently went to a forum and a framer there said he has a stamp with all the important information and stamps the back.
He also stamps the back of the frame to come back in 5 years for a "frame" check up. He says his customer comes back to have the frame check and if it needs any replacements it gets done but mostly he gets return business. I thought it was a good way of getting your customer thru the doors.

Keep smiling!
No, I don't, though most of my frames were conceived by me from scrap and they are mine hundred percent. I found a bit too much signing a frame that can practically be reproduced by anyone else, providing complete specification is given out and in the end just the final price would vary. Leave alone that ultimately every single design of yours is having your client's stamp of approval and, if he wanted something less than perfect in your eyes, that's exactly what you would make and sign, right?

I best agree with Bob's general approach. His idea of leaving a sealed note, in which materials and concepts are being revealed to a possibly yet unborn framer, is quite thoughtful and touching. Bob, you earned my entire admiration for being considerate, professional and serviceable beyond what humanly can be expected from you. Man, wish you were my friend!
We put a sticker on the back with our name, phone number and a place to put framers name, date, frame number and uo to 4 mats. We put the Conservation glass sticker on back if used and we have a sticker for plexi as well.

We put this on every piece that we frame unless it is a repair from another shop, even metals.

Dave, if you frame something with larson 548wo do you put your name on it? That's a frame that is used in wood "production" framing. What's a customer going to think if you sign a wood frame but the piece that you framed for them in metal is not? Are you going to stand by the workmanship if they can't prove it was from you?
Tim, I readily admit that I have a predjudice against metal and there is no logical reason for it. I guess it may be because as an industry we have not trained the general public well enough to know the difference in quality in metal frames and framing techniques and many people are satisfied with "silver-mirror-finished-plastic metal-looking-frames-which-are-falling-apart-as we-speak".

I always have a sticker identifying my shop as the framer, but have only recently begun signing the backs of the frames. I do sign metals too, but only if I feel there is something that sets it apart from the "22X28 poster frame with no matting at the record store look". Again, MY
quirkiness, snobiness, predudice, etc., but at 49 years old I'm beginning to realize that I have the right to have unexplainable preferences as long as they don't hurt anyone.

I sell quite a bit of metal frames, but find myself steering people toward wood, especially if it is going into their homes. Wood just seems warmer and more "homey". Some of the newer profiles Nielson and others have come out with do show much more imagination than the typical profile #11 and several of the profiles I actually like.

I'm not trying to get anyone's dander up and realize it is MY problem and MY predjudice. I'll keep working on it, but please be kind as I go through therapy.

On another note...I am impressed with those of you that list all the elements involved in the frame job within the framed piece. Bravo to you. You just raised my standard of what I need to do. I'm battling trying to identify a mat board on a 9 year old framed piece that I need to reproduce. It would be a heck of a lot easier if the original framer had identified the elements as some of you truly professionals do. I applaude you.

Of course in this particular case, it may not be beneficial because the color of the mat brd has faded. I could always leave it out in the sun for a week to catch up with the original piece...

Thanks for raising the goalpost another notch.

I am impressed with those of you that list all the elements involved in the frame job within the framed piece.
I went a step further on a recent order.

I've been framing portraits of the board chairs for the local United Way office for about ten years. Every one is identical and the top mat is a Tru Vue marble (Pallazo?) that is unique among the four lines of board I use.

Oh, oh. Can I assume that Crescent will continue to offer this board? Not if I'm the only one in the world using it. How many Tru Vue mats can they really continue to carry?

So I cut eight extra mats, with the understanding that they would store them and bring one in each year with the portrait to be framed. I also gave them detailed specs on the other elements, including the engraved plates we've used, along with suggestions for possible substitutes for the Clark metal used and the bottom mat.

If I retired tomorrow, or got run over by a bus, they could take that sheet to any respectable framer (or even John Ranes) and duplicate the package.

BTW, I've been doing this framing for free, as long as they don't send me any pledge cards, so I'm not too concerned about them shopping around. :D
Not every frame I make... in fact close to half the frames I make the customer doesn't approve the design. They bring the artwork in, tell me where it'll hang and any other pertinent questions I may have and leave. Quite often they don't even want to know how much it'll cost. It really surprises me, yet honors me that customers trust me to design an attractive package, properly care for their work and not price gauge them. This is one of the rewards of this profession.

I would not sign a piece that had a design that was ill conceived. In fact I may not even put my shop sticker on it, but of course I would have a work order if I proceeded and stand behind the craftsmanship. I will and have refused to cut down an artist's original and will send the work away before I'd compromise my principals. Having a signed release form isn't good enough. Did you know that legally the person who bought the artwork has no right and can be sued if they alter the work and still present it as an origianl by the artist?

Each frame I put out into the world speaks of my abilities and sense of design. Each piece is the best advertisement for my business I can offer. I beg to differ with CR if I understand him correctly. Custom framing is not a commodity. It is a craft bordering on art. I know alot of you will agree and many will say "hog wash". Yes, anyone can be taught to pound a nail or step on a footpetal underpinner, etc., but being able to visualize a design and execute it is why my customers pay me to do their framing. True custom framing service is not a commodity with price being the only differential. If it was, why am I able to charge higher prices than other framers. Believe me, it ain't my good looks! Ha!

Let me continue to feel that I offer more than a mechanical function. I like to believe I do something not everyone can do. God has given all of us different talents.

I stop pontificating now and go pound nails!

Dave Makielski
Dave, to ease your acceptance of metal frames try stacking one inside a wood frame.

A 1500 inside a flat black moulding gives you just a tiny line of color. A brushed nickel inside a white LeCirque looks fabulous for a bathroom mirror.

It's also a way of adding strength when the wooden frame the customer wants is too small to support the weight of the piece.

C'mon. Give it a try.

(Can you tell I really LOVE metal frames?)

In fact, the only thing Kit loves even more is that 548WO mentioned earlier. ;)

There was an interesting and enlightening thread a while back (No, I can't be more specific. Do a search.) about metal frames, and I was surprised at how many framers hide the samples behind the counter.
For years I kept 548WO (and all the other oak frames) hidden behind the counter. In the new operation I'll loose them entirely. I can just barely tolerate LJ's Bannister line; I may keep those.


Like the idea of metal and wood...makes it easy to add a color panel without having to get out the spray gun. My creative juices are flowing thinking about new designs.

Metal is structurally great too.

Appreciate the input.

We're not as anal as Ron, but usually we cut a backing board out of the same rag mat or alpha mat as the mat or mats we use. These are used so that in the future we can cut a new mat out of the old backer from the same mat board that _______ in their infinate wisdom desided to discontinue.
Also, if there is anything beyond the obvious, I will make a not on the final backer so that when I or a future framer removes the dust cover, there are directions of what we did and how they can be reversed.

If I hand carve the frame, I'll brand it with my woodworking branding iron and signiture iron.