Education & courses


Dec 25, 2004
Belfast, Northern Ireland
It seems to me that framing standards and business management skills are much superior in the U.S. compared to UK/Ireland.

I want to take as many courses in U.S. as possible.
Presumably the best place to do this is at one of the trade shows. I'm guessing that Atlanta is the one to go for or is there a better one?

Go to Vegas-Much more fun and all of the best educators in the Biz are there

For equipment and vendors, go to Atlanta

For education, PFM rules that game and it's in Vegas
Hear Hear. I'll second my esteamed collieges opinion. And there IS the limo ride and Chinese dinner. Bob, we ARE counting on you and your lovely bride this year. No short cutting the events this year.

Rumor has it that PFM has laid on an extra day of education this year too.
Thanks for the advice.

Looks like I'm going to Vegas.

It's probably a bit early to talk about the details but how far in advance do you need to book hotel accomodation?
Last year there was a special rate of $99 per night at the Hilton where the conference is held. I booked in mid-December, shortly after the educational events were announced, and I was ok.
Hey Baer-I'll share that ride with you unless (and there is always an unless) I have to dine with either a major vendor, a major client or Bill McCurry

Anything else, I'll be there
PPFA's Annual Conference is another excellent education opportunity and will also be in Las Vegas next March.
Don't rule out Atlanta and the DECOR Expo in September. I understand there will be over 60 classes this year.
Maybe more details will help, GH...

January, Las Vegas -- West Coast Art & Frame Show (WCAF), organized by Picture Framing Magazine. Established in 2000, this show has more framing & business classes than any other venue and a growing list of exhibitors. If you're interested in classes, this would be my first choice.

January or February, Las Vegas/Orlando -- PPFA annual Convention in conjunction with PMAI. It switches cities every three(?) years. In 2007 it will be in Las Vegas again. This show is mostly for photographic interests, but includes a few framing exhibitors, the annual PPFA elections, framing competition finals, and some good classes for framers. If you're a PPFA member, it is a must-go show.

March, New York -- DecorExpo (concurrent with ArtExpo) show organized by Decor Magazine. This was once the largest framing trade show in the USA, but has declined in popularity in recent years. It has a smaller number of classes. Next year it may be a smaller show of exhibitors and attendees than WCAF. The main attraction of this show is a visit to Manhattan.

September, Atlanta -- DecorExpo show organized by Decor Magazine. This has been the largest framing trade show in the USA for several years. Some manufacturers kick-off their new products at this show. Plenty of classes, but fewer than WCAF. If you're interested in seeing exhibitors, this show is still the best choice.

All of the shows have a long list of social activities that revolve around the main schedule of events.

Help me out here, folks. Have I missed anything important?
You nailed it Jim!

GH, forget NY.

You would not regret going to any of the other three. Decide what classes/instructors you are looking for and make sure they will be offered at the venue you are most interested in.
Jan. Pfm: THEE MOST framing and art exhibitors of the top four shows. THEE Most classes. Plus a fun city, great hotel, [secret: the $12 primerib in the Paradise cafe is the same or larger cut then the $27 rib in the steak house.] The buffet is very good too.

March PPFA: 1 million sq ft of Photo eye candy. And several vendors that don't have reps in our industry ; but are worth knowing about. PLUS four days of non-stop classes. Best deal is the "all inclusive pass": all the classes you want, breakfast (fruit, rolls, juice coffe) tables, lunches, and the main dinner. In four days, I ate out four meals... the first day I didn't know about the breakfast tables.

Atlanta, Vendors and some classes.

NY, I can't say, the last time I was there was in the 80s and got mugged, twice.
Originally posted by Baer Charlton:
NY, I can't say, the last time I was there was in the 80s and got mugged, twice.
Baer: I have an alibi, for both times....

I attended the NY Decor Expo last year and it had tons of classes and every famous industry guru was there (aside from Baer who was getting mugged elsewhere).

So don't disregard NY so quickly. And as for food, where else is there Little Italy, China-Town, Little Brazil, Argentinian Steak Pavilion and Lombardi's Pizzeria??
Paul, Those restraunts are all in NYNY; and then you can go across the street to the MGM Grand, or hop on down to the Bellagio, or 19 other casinos with great food.

Or on Tuesday night you hop in the biggest Limo in the city and go chinese with some of the greatest people on earth.
I've decided I am definitely going to WCAF in Vegas in January.
I've been looking at the 2006 class schedule and I want to take all of them which of course isn't possible. I'll just have to wait for the 2007 schedule and prioritise.
Thank you all for the info and advice. Much appreciated.

Let me think about this a minute.... coming from Belfast.... hmmmm

It's my experience that people from that side of the pond don't come to this side of the pond for 3-5 days..... Sooooooooo

Come for WCAF, then wander down to Pheonix for a few days with Bob, and then take in a little Disneyland, Knotsberry, Universal, San Diego, and such untill PPFA starts... then you can have the best of both of the best for classes and vendors.
Baer, you are totally correct. The only thing I lack is a tour planner. You seem to be eminently qualified, soooo - Whadya say?

Couple of things you should know though. I've already been to Vegas and stayed in the Luxor - the elevators made me sick and I kept walkin into the ceiling. So I'm not stayin there again.
I'm ok for Disneyland and Universal - never heard of Knotsberry but I'll give it a try.
Phoenix - better clear it with Bob first ( he is the Mayor isn't he?)
Just one thing - I would love to see that big hole in the ground thing , "The Great Crack" I think it's called.
Try to keep the tour to about 10 days and build in plenty of water holes.


Originally posted by Paul N:

So don't disregard NY so quickly.

I agree. I thoroughly enjoy the NY show. This year was a blast.
George, before you get excited about the Big Crack, watch the movie... with Chevy Chase. My reactions once I got there was the same... "Oooo it's so dirty."
It doesn't look like those gorgeous pictures that some photographer waited thirteen weeks in the freezing cold to catch the light that lasted 27 seconds.

Knottsberry farm is an amusement park that is mostly "those" kind of rides

Sea World is more my speed these days. But also don't discount Museums.... Getty (both the new and old are open now), Huntington Library, LAMOMA La Mus Of Mod Art, Norton Simon, Barrett, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, The Missions, Balboa Park's 1932 Exhibition Halls, Bower's, Museum of Neon Light, LA Underground . . . . and then there are the beach..e..s... oh, right, January. Never mind.
Originally posted by GH:
It seems to me that framing standards and business management skills are much superior in the U.S. compared to UK/Ireland.
May I ask how have you made those comparisons and what courses/seminars you have taken/looked at in UK?
I wondered how long it would take before someone from the UK would pick up on that statement.

My comparisons are based purely on observation.
If you compare PFM for example with the UK publications Art Business Today or Picture Business the content of the American magazine is much superior and much more in depth. The British publications are merely advertising and self-congratulatory for publishers and suppliers with almost no significant framing content.
Also, the level of discussion on this forum is much higher than the UK equivalent.

I am not aware of any courses in the UK which are in any way comparable to those available from PFM.

I have looked at the class schedule for courses which took place in Las Vegas this year. I would like to have taken most of them and I fully intend to in 2007.

Im my opinion, any UK framer who wants to improve both his business management and framing skills should be looking to America.

Come on over George. We'll welcome you with open arms.
We welcomed that other George too, when he came with those other three..
Actually we only disliked the first George.... nasty little tart. Wanted to tax our tea and all that.

We'll see you in Vegas.
Originally posted by GH:
I wondered how long it would take before someone from the UK would pick up on that statement.

Same here, I waited, but no-one did - would have been nice if someone from the FATG had come in and said "I say Old Boy, that comment really gets my gander ......"

I'm not disagreeing with you at all George, I'm off over there myself in August and I can't wait.

We all have the same materials available to us and I am sure that many framers here are working to the same levels as the best there.

But the market is richer there and people, framers included, are far more open with each other.

Also, the level of discussion on this forum is much higher than the UK equivalent.
Which goes part way to explaining that. Also there are more of them - not per square mile, but overall.

So, maybe it follows that there are more BAD framers there than there are in UK - not that they would show up on TG!

But if the averages could be worked out I am sure you are right - The States are streets ahead.

Our trade organisation does not have the word 'FRAME' in it - nor do our trade magazines.
Interesting point though George.

Check out the topic "I am a horrible business predictor" on warped.

18 framing customers today here.

Don't fly direct to the States, go via Gatwick - I'm a stones' throw from Gatwick!

Liar liar pants on fire.

I was at Gatwick, and I picked up that dang stone, and threw it as hard as I could. Twice. And you weren't there, John. :D

The stupid shuttle driver wouldn't stop either... what's up with thatttt?

We all have the same materials available to us and I am sure that many framers here are working to the same levels as the best there.
I find that curious. As I poked around frame shops in London, and Europe, I found scarcity of the same products.

We're going to really have to compare notes in August. Maybe between pony runs.
To John:
I was quite happily thinking I had hardly any framing customers on Sat because of the Bank Holiday. You've shattered my illusion.
I'm hurt - if I had 18 customers I would send you some.

I'll be flying from Dublin to Las Vegas but I will be close to you in July. My wife and I have rented a place in Dorset.
So keep your ears open for a couple with a Belfast accent saying things like -
"I really like that moulding but have you got it half an inch wider"
"that mat would be perfect if it was just a shade darker"
"the frame's costing more than the print"
"is that your best price?"
"if I get 2 framed do I get a discount?"
"before I decide on the frame I'll have to get the artists opinion"

To Baer:

Come to Belfast and you can poke around my shop.
Hopefully you'll find some of the things I've lost over the years.

Oh George, as good as your offer sounds to me, I'm not sure it would be the best of things to do...

I have this strange affliction.... I have a pention for wearing the color Orange.

On a $100 bet one St Patty's day, I strolled into O'Dooles wearing a electric neon orange workmans jumpsuit. . . The place went silent, the masses parted all the way to the bar. All I had to do to win was 'go in, drink a beer, and get out, alive'.

15 minutes goes by and my friend is getting worried. 20 minutes and he's flat scared. So in he comes. He finds me standing at the bar, quietly sipping my beer. There are three empty pint mugs in front of me. I'm quiet and the place is as quiet as a usual Wednesday evening of darts [strange for about 500 blokes celebrating the Pat.

Michael puts his credit card down and tells the barman he's covering my tab. Barman drops Mike's pint and goes off to settle the tab.

"Any trouble?" Mike asks through his suds.

"Not so's you'ld notice." I sipped and stared at the back bar.

One of the Rugby players came by and slaps his hand down on my shoulder, "Ever thin owlright? Rudy fer 'nother round?"

I couldn't look at him and keep a straight face as the barman had just put the charge slip down in front of Michael. "Naw, I think were about to push off. Thanks for askin anyway."

We both snuck a look at Mike as his eyes and face registered the $1,500 bar tab.

When I first walked up to the bar, and the smouldering crowd gathered in about to make English paste.... I turned to the barman and said, "you'd best be pouring a round on me as I explain that the joke is on my friend who will be along in a few minutes to pay the tab."

They all loved the joke, and respected the stupidity of taking the bet.

We'll see you in Vegas. Don't forget to stop by the booth, push your way through the crowds and up to the bar and say hi.
The comparison of framing standards in the USA and Europe is an interesting topic.

Robo, on every continent there must be some framers who are excellent, some who are sub-standard, and a multitude in the middle.

PPFA and FATG representatives met in Atlanta (was that in 2000?) and talked about jointly developing a "world standard" framing qualification, but that didn't work out. The two associations took different approaches. Since then, FATG has added advanced qualifications published their revised framing standards, and PPFA developed their MCPF exam.

But regardless of the qualification programs, or the number and quality of educational classes available, the main difficulty everywhere seems to be attracting framing practitioners to learn and use the technology and the huge body of knowledge available to them.
Originally posted by Jim Miller:
But regardless of the qualification programs, or the number and quality of educational classes available, the main difficulty everywhere seems to be attracting framing practitioners to learn and use the technology and the huge body of knowledge available to them.
Sadly, Jim, much the same could be said about the home-building, and auto repair industries.
I wonder where the world's best framer lives.

There in the US?

Here in the UK?


And even if he is PRACTICALLY brilliant - would he lose out to someone almost as good but a better businessman? Or maybe a better 'artist'?

The best framing job I have ever seen won a competition over here - a totally unheard of guy.

I don't like framing competitions - I'm all about the framing being a 'PS' to the art. (Plus I'm a coward and a bad loser!)

But this one was just that.

The guy had made his own moulding, lacquered it in a deep, deep burgundy - after joining - closed corner. He had separate temperature controlled rooms for woodstaining and laquering - the mat was ultra thick cotton, the bevel was gilded in real gol leaf - 'moongold'

The first thing I thought when I saw it was "I WANT THAT PRINT" It was stunning. But it was little more than a single-matted print

A picture paints a thousand words and I ain't got a picture!

Never seen or heard of that framer in the trade mags before or since, having said that I don't remember his name, but usually, over here the winners are well known.

Equally good but different because it was 3-D was Barb Pelton's framed Palette & brush.

I've seen lots of entries to competions, both in mags and at trade shows, but those are the two that stick. No elaboration, no programming.
Yes, there are good, bad and middle of the road framers in every country but I suspect that there is a greater percentage of excellent framers in USA than UK.
I believe this is because American consumers expect higher standards and framing prices are higher in USA giving framers the opportunity to concentrate more on quality than quantity.
Framers also seem to be more open and willing to share knowledge than their UK counterparts.
All of this is just my opinion and I have no hard evidence to back it up.
Although, I will be visiting the USA to take the CPF test and then again for the WCAF and I intend to visit some framers. Maybe I'll have a different opinion afterwards.

You have made an excellent case for visiting Ireland.
You understand the culture and our history and you've got that Irish sense of humour and I suspect you have kissed the Blarney stone.
If you come in July you'll find thousands of other people wearing orange. That's the month when the Orangemen parade around Belfast.
In fact you and all the other tourists will have Belfast to yourselves. The rest of us get out of town in July.

Originally posted by GH:
framing prices are higher in USA
Not true - I've posed the question here, posted a shot of something framed in what the US can relate to.

Artcare - Larson Juhl - Tru Vue. (cord too tight -got educated to boot!)

What IS true, from what I can glean is that they sell more high end than we do, in fact their high end is practically unavailable to us.

Do YOU do closed corner frames and fabric wrapped mats?

I don't - well - I'm trying - hec of a job finding a supplier for closed corner frames, the term means nothing here and there is not even an equivalent term

Seems there is ONE supplier and they don't exactly put themselves about - I had to chase them with my wallet! Have some samples now - very very nice - they ain't selling!

It's not just cost either TASTES are different here, a lot of US designs would look incongruous in the average UK home.

What is your high end? - Larson Juhl? Nielsen exclusive? How would you fare if you dropped standard glass and upgraded to UV as default?

I'd maybe go under!

Wages are higher in the US - houses are cheaper - petrol is much much cheaper - cars are cheaper.

The most expensive things most people own are their homes and their cars, in that order. After purchasing those things and with a higher average income to start, Americans have more 'change' to spend on their framers, art dealers, interior designers, therapists, etc etc etc, therefore can afford the high end.

I still believe prices are higher in the USA.
Please convince me otherwise.

Recently an artist I frame for went to visit friends in USA and decided to have a gift of one of her original prints framed there rather than carry a frame from here.
She paid double what she would have paid here for what she regarded as her usual style of simple frame.

Many other people have told me similar tales so at present I have no reason to believe they are wrong in their perception.

George, the US is a big place. I've had my customers tell me they paid twice as much "down near DC" and I had one woman tell me "the girl out in Ayer was MUCH less than you." (Ayer is a small rural town about 30 miles from here.)

The point is, anecdotal evidence can be mis-leading. I'm not saying she didn't pay twice as much, just that that may or may not be representative.

John's "study" at least had some averaging involved, but even that had a limited sample set.

To truly get at the question there would have to be a comparison survey to survey with a reasonable sample set.
A fair point Cliff.

I have no doubt there is a wide variation in prices in USA as there is here but there is nowhere in this country where she would be charged twice what I'm charging her.

I guess it doesn't really matter anyway what other framers charge on a different continent.
I charge as much as I can and I keep trying to push the ceiling up and I assume we all do the same.

Originally posted by Roboframer
My nearest competitor charges twice what I do - at least! !
He isn't really a competitor is he?

Surely you most operate in different areas otherwise your prices should be up there with his.

Originally posted by GH:
Originally posted by Roboframer
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> I wonder where the world's best framer lives
That's an easy one.


But the commute to W Sussex is a real killer!
Originally posted by GH:
Originally posted by Roboframer
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> My nearest competitor charges twice what I do - at least! !
He isn't really a competitor is he?

Surely you most operate in different areas otherwise your prices should be up there with his.

</font>[/QUOTE]I'm quite serious - he is 3 miles away, subs his work out to someone 40 miles away. From stories I have heard and a bit of mystery shopping - he is paying roughly what I charge my customers - then doubling it and adding the carriage each way.

I'm 'up there' with his framer's prices - who, it seems are not giving him much, if any discount.

We regularly hear "I went there - once!"
Then you would have a very small customer base George and your competitors would regularly be hearing this about you.

Originally posted by RoboFramer:

We regularly hear "I went there - once!"
I don't think this guy is too fussed about his framing service - he is basically an agent - we have a dry cleaning agency - money for filling in a form! We'd survive without it.

What this guy is good at is selling art - esp sourcing sold out limited editions. He does me a lot of favours.

He had a radio ad once - our business went ballistic as a result - people left there screaming - to us.

We are not cheap!

He is not competitive.

He dropped the radio ad, we took one on, it's been running for 5 years.
'Course he's a competitor - I've not got a monopoly on framing in my area, and he's not got a monoploy on art, he must have some customers that come back, for their own reasons, maybe they don't know I exist, maybe they believe things he says like 'My framing is much better than somebody doing it in a back room'!!!!

While I spend all day in my workshop, he spends all day promoting to his database - If I was as good at that as him he'd probably go under.

Must fly - need the vet - one of my donkey's legs just dropped off!
OK, you can have the last word.

The important thing is that I have now graduated from Grumbler in training to Grumbler.

I am beginning to understand why you're an SGF.

Congrats on reaching Grumbler status, there's one, not far off which is better Certified Grumbler Framer CGF - an anagram of GCF!

Hows this for a last word?........

Used to represent the sound of snoring The Random House College Dictionary, Cambridge International Dictionary of English, Encarta World English Dictionary, North American Edition........

Looking at that last post it sounds like I could be saying I am bored.

Not at all, just did a google search for the 'last word' in the dictionary