Stressfull industry?

Susan May

PFG, Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
May 28, 2000
moved to Clermont, Florida
I noticed someone mention on another thread that this is a stressfull industry. I disagree. We may have to deal with some stressfull people, and during the holidays we have some pretty demanding deadlines. BUT, as far as jobs go, framing is a nice place to be.

Let me explain:

1) Framing is not life or death. No one will die, if the frame comes in wrong.
2) You do not NEED framing to survive. (Like you NEED food, and water.) (well, WE might, but most people don't.)

On the good side:
1) We get to see things from all over the world.
2) We get to hear some cool stories about the art.
3) Most of our customers can't wait to see the finished piece, and hang it on thier wall.

How many other jobs out there can say that their customers bring then chocolate chip cookies, and give them hugs?

Stress? Not from framing.
The stress comes, not from the framing, but from running a small business in an increasingly complex market.
Yeah, framing is the non-stressful part. The only time I have ever broken a sweat framing was when I worked at Michael's and was approaching 1,000 orders in shop. That was always a bit of stress.

I don't think the industry causes the stress as much as owning a business does.
Any small business is fragile ... that's what creates stress.

But all things are relative ... I've certainly suffered much greater stress in a previous occupation.
I'm the one who said our craft is stressful. Here is why, at least for me. We , or I, expect perfection in everything I produce.

Take a situation like when we are swamped with orders, rush jobs are due. You are working on a large picture that is a time consuming project, spent the whole day on it. Finally finished, wrapping it up and you notice a small speck between the mat and glass. The customer would never notice it, what do you do? You know darn well what you have to do, tear it down and get the speck out. End up working late, etc. etc.

Then there is the stress of actually running your business, paying the bills, taxes, etc.

Dealing with customers, although Susan May's idyllic shop with the hugs and cookies sounds great, it ain't the way it happens most of the time in my shop.

How do you feel when you spend an entire day out front helping customers as opposed to a day when all you do is frame pictures? For me, I am twice as worn out and tired after a day out front on the firing line, than in the back framing. If that isn't stress, I don't know what is.

I have also noticed numerous mentions of alcohol on The Grumble. I would venture to guess there are more than a few of our members who imbibe a little more than the average person. Face it folks, any industry that requires perfection in the work, dealing with the public and running a small business, it's got to be stressful.

I must admit, that as I am getting older, it does not affect me as much as in my youth. I am, however, really looking forward to my retirement.

Don't get me wrong, there are fun days, hugs, and cookies, those days are rare though.

I have had customers tell me that it must be so much fun working in a frame shop, discussing art, working with art, etc. That is NOT the way it is. It's a stressful industry, things have to be on time and done properly, ALL the time.

Other than worrying about how I'm going to pay the rent, etc., it is the most peaceful "retail" job I have ever experienced.

Susan hits the nail on the head....
Kathy is correct too. Owning any business can be stressful.

But framing and dealing with "framing customers" is a piece of cake compared to other retail professions. IMHO

I'm stressed just reading your post!

The main stress for me is that I have to, unfortunately, make money at picture framing. I wish I was independently wealthy and didn't even have to charge for my work and would only do work for people who brought me chocolate chip cookies (if they had macadamiun nuts in them, I'd throw in a free fillet).


I agree that other professions can be more stressful and don't have the following perks:

1.) We be the experts...(or so our customers believe us to be...)

2.) They trust us or wouldn't come to us...(how'd you like to sell used cars?)

3.) We are surrounded by beautiful art...(some of the time).

4.) We get to work with our hands being creative...(If we stay small and don't get bogged down in administrative stuff).

5.) We can set our own hours and add "or by appointment" to our store hours sign...(who cares if we have to work until midnight on Christmas eve?).

6.) Everybody THINKS we make a lot of money!

7.) and...the most important perk of all...



Now...where's my Smirnoff & Rasberry Ice Tea???

Dave Makielski
I could never understand how my wife could enjoy being a nurse. Every day she's working with people that don't want to be in the hospital, the clinic, the nursing home . . . wherever she happens to be working.

Now I've left a business where most people come in to do business because they want to. I spend my days talking to people who would rather not be talking to their insurance company. Often they are facing financial crisis and poor health at the same time - a tough combination.

It is exceedingly stressful for 8 hours/day, 5 days/week. The difference is, I leave it all behind when I go home. I couldn't take the work home with me if I wanted to and there are about 6,000 other people looking after any details I might have missed.

I still find the few framing responsibilities I take on more stressful than my regular work.
Corporate retail was WAY more stressful than this.

Miss a couple of deadlines; you might as well look for another job. Deadlines were an everyday affair. No excuses.

But for me, the worst was my brief and unfortunate stint as a realtor.
Work a couple of months as a realtor and you will be kissing the toes of custom framing customers--believe me. We don't exactly deal with the "general" public, except on rare occasions.

I think nursing would be pretty tough. Expecially if working someplace short staffed, and these around here so often are.
If you want to experience true stress, walk just one day in a public school teacher's shoes. Below is an article I wrote for our local newspaper (condensed version for Grumblers). It is still lengthy so just skim over it to get the picture.


After 28 years, I retired from teaching in the public schools. It was not the low pay that got me. Neither was it having to buy classroom resources out of my own pocket. It was not even the ever-expanding workload.

. . . If you think teaching is an easy job, reflect on how you would enjoy spending an entire day with 32 of the neighborhood children.

Teachers don’t expect praise or thanks for good teaching. They do however expect parents to understand why they pray for snow days and whoop for joy when April 1 does not fall on a school day. Most teachers have disjointed necks from writing on the board without turning their backs on students.

Did you know the size and elasticity of teachers’ kidneys and bladders are written up in medical journals? The record for gulping down a full lunch is 2 minutes, 31 seconds. Less experienced teachers require up to 2 minutes, 46 seconds. They grade papers in the car, in meetings, in the bathroom, and even sometimes in church (if it’s the last week of the grading period).

Teaching required my working on my own time, summer and evenings and at my own expense towards the required additional certification, advanced certification, and a master’s degree to maintain current qualifications and employment status.

No, I did not request hourly pay for returning the telephone calls from parents who wanted to know what I was doing wrong to cause his or her child to be failing or misbehaving because “my child would not do that” or “he is not that way at home.”

. . .it is too often true that when a student misbehaves at school, parents rush to the defense of the child, for the child can do no wrong. When the child fails to earn the grades expected by the parents, it is the teacher’s fault for failing to motivate the child . . .

Last year I spent $463 of my own money for student necessities—supplies kids had to have but could not afford. Public schools don’t teach values??? The critics are dead wrong. Public education provides more Sunday school teachers than any other profession.

When inferior products are received in businesses, the products are sent back. Teachers can never send back their products. They take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused, frightened, confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant.

For many children, the hug they get from a teacher is the only hug they will get that day. Many have never been taken to church in their lives. Some two million unwanted, unloved, abused children attend public schools, the only institution that takes them all in.

I tried everything.
I hugged your child, listened to your child, bought supplies for your child and reminded your child of the importance of getting an education as well as the importance of caring about life with heart and genuineness.

I read theories on how to teach at-risk students; “at-risk” is really defined as children growing up without parental supervision.
I read theories on how to teach pregnant students, students on drugs, abused students, high-energy students, and shy students.

I cried tears, trying to find the answers for motivating your child to have success in my classroom and in life.

I was a teacher. I was not qualified to be a doctor. I was not qualified to be a psychiatrist. I was not trained to be a minister. I was not a former drug addict. I was not trained to be a police officer. I was not God, and I was not, emphatically and unequivocally, your child’s parent.

I was the teacher.

Since students and teachers are not to have prayer in the classroom, pray for them. . . .
Yes, I was a teacher and if I had it to do over, I would. Teaching will always be in my heart. It does not matter what I made (or did not make). What matters is I tried to make a difference in the life of a child . . .

***Framing is therapy! You have to focus on the task at hand and nothing else--forgetting all other worries. And the finished product--how rewarding is that!
Well, I have been at it for over forty years, must have some appeal to me.

I just miss it!

I have attended about 7 conferences and meetings this year about various causes of danger and illness in the work place…… is very revealing and there are many myths around as to the reasons, particularly regarding stress in the workplace……

This article may be of interest “Work-Related Stress Emerging as Major Global Occupational Health Hazard - 09/26/2005” it is from a study presented at the 17th World Congress on Health and Safety at Work, held last month in Orlando, Fla.


NSC: Work-Related Stress Emerging as Major Global Occupational Health Hazard - 09/26/2005

Illness and injury resulting from job-related stress are an increasingly costly downside of a changing, more global workplace, according to studies presented at the 17th World Congress on Health and Safety at Work, held last week in Orlando, Fla.

"With all its many advantages, the global, multicultural work environment has also contributed to a new workplace health hazard – stress," said National Safety Council (NSC) President and CEO Alan McMillan. "Employers are beginning to recognize that the better they can prevent and address occupational stresses, the more productive and healthy their workers and businesses will be."

Among the major points raised at the World Congress:

Work-related stress only recently has been recognized as one of the major causes of some of the most costly, time-robbing health problems for business: Of 40.2 million working days lost by illness and injury, 13.4 million are from stress, anxiety and depression.
Among the high risk factors for workplace stress are work overload, lack of recognition from co-workers and supervisors, poor relations with supervisors, a low level of participation in decisions and insufficient communication of information. Prevention of workplace stress is only in its infancy.
Addressing psychosocial problems in workplace health and safety plans does not have to be daunting or costly. By involving employees in decisions about workplace problems, morale improves, stress lessens, health and safety issues are resolved and costs go down.
Among the stresses created by a more globalized workplace are: culture shock among those transferred to new countries or from a rural to an urban setting, isolation among outsource workers and displacement resulting from mega-mergers and downsizings.
Stress can be the hidden trigger behind cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders, obesity, depression and violence – all costly workplace hazards.
"In the U.S. alone, stress is creating a workplace hazard every bit as damaging as chemical and biological hazards," said Donna Siegfried, executive director of workplace wellness programs for NSC. "With the proper tools, training and education, it will be possible to address this new menace as efficiently as we have addressed the more traditional causes of lost productivity,"

Since the NSC was founded in 1913, injury-related deaths in the workplace have declined 93 percent, even though the work force has quadrupled and now produces nine times the goods and services that it did then, McMillan said. "We need to arouse that same dedication to addressing today's workplace health and safety challenges, including stress, as we have those in the past so we can achieve the same kind of uplifting results in the years ahead," he said.

More than 3,000 safety and health professionals from more than 110 nations attended the 17th World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, which was jointly organized by NSC, the United Nations' International Labor Organization and the International Social Security Association.
Stressful? Compared to what?

I worked on a farm when I was growing up. Knowing that your livelihood rests on the benevolence of mother nature is stressful. Weather, pestilence, growing food as a commodity in which how well others are doing affects how much you can get for whatever you are able to bring to market. Getting the bodies you need to harvest, taxes and what have you. Stressful.

I think about commercial fishermen who work at one of the most physically dangerous jobs around. They have to deal with lot so regulation, not to mention declining stocks of fish. The weather is for most of us a comfort and convenience issue; for commercial fishermen it's a matter of life and death.

I worked at a small business. The uncertainty of income flows is stressful, but at least you have the sense that you can affect how things go.

I'm an engineer now. I've done work for NASA. I've gotta say, it can be extremely stressful. The minutae you have to deal with when building something that's going to space is incredible. Each and every component has to be analyzed, derated, etc. The rules are such that you can only use proven technology, which generally means 10-20 years behind state of the art, yet you are expected to deliver state of the art performance. The cost of a satellite or spacecraft is immense, and even though the schedule seems to be long, most of the hard part has to be done in a relatively short period of time. It's the "integration and testing" that takes the bulk of the time. We just had an incident in which a faulty module was shipped to NASA. A cold solder joint was found that should have been caught in final inspection. The relevant person at NASA chewed out the director of the lab, whose anger is reported to have been palpable. In the end, not only did the actual inspector get fired, but someone fairly high up the chain of command had his head presented to NASA on a silver platter. Apparently it was a trophy of sufficient size. If you don't think it's scary to see something like that happen.... Not to mention the fact that when your payload goes into space, if something goes wrong and it's your part of the project that goes wrong, there can be an entire $500M project ruined because of something you did (or didn't do.) There's a lot of pressure for that person not to be you (and if you are in a position of authority, for it not to be a member of your team.) You wouldn't want to be a trophy on someone's wall...
Originally posted by TheDoctah:
Stressful? Compared to what?

This was one of the things about stress in the work place that has been highlighted at the various meetings by many of the speakers I attended…….the dismissive approach

One of the main difficulties regarding stress in the work place is that what may be stressful for one person is a doodle for others……

One of the main causes of stress in the work place is the perceived or real attitude of employers/bosses/managers to engage the subject in any meaningful manner………..

Any time you have to be directly responsible for employees and taxes, ya got stress. Add to that the fact that we are totally responsible for getting ourselves enough work to do, s'more stress. For all that, most of us barely get by money-wise.

Good thing the wonderful variety of neat customers, the satisifying work, the pleasant atmosphere and the autonomy go far in making it up.

Yes, it's stressful, but working at a job I hated or even merely tolerated would be like slowly dying for me. At least that's what I tell myself...

edie the dontknowanythingotherwise goddess
Most jobs have their own stress.

There are far more days I look forward to going to the shop than the few days I dread it.

As long as that ratio stays the same, I'll be here.
Count your blessings and we all will experience less stress.
JRB, thanks for mentioning stress. This has proved to be an interesting thread.

As for the cookies... Yea, I have a customer that brings me cookies EVERY time he comes in. He used to come in the shop at least once a week. sometimes he would be here two or three times a week. (I am in cookie withdrawl, he has been gone for the past few months.)

Sure, there is stress in any job. But doing a job you love, you can forget most of the stress.
I can definitely relate to JRB's desire for a perfect product. I too stress on that speck but have learned to walk, take a breath and approach it when I feel more calm.

What stresses me is working on something that is not replaceable.

Still in comparison to "other" jobs I feel it is a lot of fun. You have to love detail, working with your hands and creating something from conception to end. I get a lot of satisfaction from that.

Framing can be like playing but the business aspects certainly hold their own level of stress, bill paying, marketing, employees, etc.

And somedays I feel I'm a totally crazy person to have opened a business but I always look forward to going to the shop.
I know one thing for sure, all the advancements in the tools available to us has certainly reduced one heck of a lot of the stress. Remember cutting a sixty or more multi opening mat? I used to have to psyche myself up for days before I started that kind of project. Now you just punch it into the ol CMC and go do something else. Using a V nailer instead of a drill and nails (slip join) has had a major impact as well. Mounting press instead of wet mounting. Things have gotten a LOT better over the years.

Oh, great... you HAD to mention the V-Nailer. I had the hammer of my Cassese hit my hand today, for the first time in 17 years of framing. Nice bruse on my hand, and now my hand is scared of joining any more frames. (I guess my hand is stressed out.) LOL