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Location Portraiture

I meant Jack and his folks several years ago through his uncles.  He and his parents now live in Wyoming but thankfully they still take their photos here in Denver.  His amazing uncle Joe let us use his house for the morning of our shoot and his mother Margo was all ready to go.  She had several clothing changes and a rough idea of some backgrounds that she liked.  After giving me the scoop she whispered “and now I’m going to step back and let you do your thing”.  I knew I loved her.

JustJackJack is obviously an adorable 4-year-old.  He’s also got an incredibly outgoing personality, the result of being an only child surrounded by amazing adults.  We started out across the street on the side of a neighbor’s house and chatted about his summer.  It broke the ice and let him relax.

JustJack3Now that he was warmed up and telling me some great stories, we moved back to the front door of Joe’s house for some of my favorite photos of the day.  I love this blue door and may just start taking photos there while Joe is at work.

We stayed outside for a bit because in my experience, boys really enjoy being outside.  Jack found a little front end loader in a bush and so I ran with it.  I love his expression while exploring the parts and driving it around, insert your own truck noises.

JustJack4JustJack2This now represents about 20 minutes of shooting outside.  Margo had mentioned a few things inside the house, so we took a little break for a snack and wardrobe change while I set up some lights.  It’s no joke asking a four-year-old to smile, look at the camera and talk to some lady he barely knows.  Keeping things moving is great, but I find it’s good to take a rest before it’s needed.Jack4

Joe has this great piece of modern art in this entryway.  Margo and I both loved it, so we took a few shots with it as the background.  At this point, everything else is gravy because in about 40 minutes I know we have a great variety of shots.  So I asked Jack what he’d like to do next, and he wanted to sit on the couch.  JJFull disclosure:  at this point Joe’s roommate had just woken up and offered to help get some laughs.  I accept!  Next to the couch was another great chair, and since Jack was having such a great time he moved over and really wanted to show me his smelly feet.

JackThis represents about an hour of shooting on location.  Jack’s mom, Margo, was a huge part of the success of the day, having Jack prepped with what was going to happen, snacks at the ready and a clear idea of what she wanted.  Looking forward to seeing them again in a couple of years!


Your life, on your walls.

We recently had the pleasure of working with a new client who was updating her home in Cherry Creek.  She had many pieces that took the majority of the afternoon to work through. Each piece had a great story behind it and a lot of time was spent laughing and exchanging stories back and forth.   It was a great collection of art including originals that had hung in her parents’ home, two photos of her finishing the New York City Marathon, and posters she’d collected while studying abroad.

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Resurrecting frames from the past.

Custom framing has changed a lot in the past 50 years and even more in the last 20 years. Conservation technology in both materials and methods has greatly improved and art preservation has never been better. However, there is something to be said about the frames of the past. Intricately made and uniquely shaped in the style of the time period, they work perfectly for old photos and art alike.

We recently had a client who wanted to frame an old family photo in a beautiful period frame she had found at an antique shop. We gutted the old frame and updated the backing but kept the domed glass that made it so unique.  She also wanted an oval frame for a grouping of photos from roughly the same time.  We had a new frame made by Inline Ovals for the group of photos using the same style of domed glass. Even though one is nearly a century old and the other is new they work very well together. Bring us your antique frames you have displayed in your home and we will be happy to upgrade the inside without changing that that beautiful period look that you love. Remember framing consultations are always free and encouraged!

Wedding Season!

I have nothing against gift registries, everyone needs new towels and dishes when they get married. However, the $60 wooden spoon from William Sonoma might not express the way you truly feel about the new couple. May we suggest having that beautiful and sometimes very expensive invitation or announcement framed. It is the perfect gift on so many levels:

1. People usually don’t expect it so its a huge surprise.

2. The bride, who has usually been the person who put so much effort into every little detail, will be blown away that you noticed.

3. The groom will have a framed, visual reminder of the anniversary date.

4. It will stay fashionable and last longer than the decorative zebra pillow set.

5. Its also a great idea for baby announcements, house warming, and wedding anniversaries to name a few.

A Real Fan.

It’s March, and with it comes some of the best sports drama the U.S. has to offer. People are frantically filling out their NCAA tournament brackets all over the country. The NBA trade deadline is here and teams are making their final push to earn a spot in the playoffs. I am a huge basketball fan but I do not compare to Andy Smith.

I grew up in a small, rural hamlet in the western mountains of Colorado. There was a lot for a kid to do in the summers growing up like Tom Sawyer, bare foot and with all of nature  practically out your back door. However, sports was the one thing that every kid I knew was obsessed with. For me it was basketball, my dad bolted a hoop and backboard to the garage in the back of our house and I spent countless hours imagining I was Michael Jordan, dribbling awkwardly  in the gravel alley. I progressed this way for years working on my shot and ball handling until I was in Middle School and could actually play on a team and then later, High School, which seemed no less than the NBA at the time. My freshman year of basketball was a nerve racking experience. I hadn’t really grown into myself  (like most 15 year olds) and was tall, skinny and awkward.

Andy Smith was a senior, and the starting  point guard, for the varsity team. He was good, real good. He was fast, a proficient ball handler, and could drive the lane like nobodies business. I knew Andy of course from summer pick up games at the park and the church camp his parents ran, that I attended every year. I didn’t really think that Andy liked me, so during our first practice when Andy and I where paired up to run drills together I was nervous. He was faster than me, stronger than me, but I was determined to keep up, what ever it took. Durring conditioning Andy would always be the first to cross the line every time we ran the lung busting pyramid drills. I made it a point to try and beat him. When the Varsity would scrimmage the Junior Varsity, I always wanted to guard him. He pushed me and I hope I pushed him. In the end I won his respect and friendship as well as a bench warming spot on the Varsity team.

On the long bus rides to the other small towns in our 1A division we would talk about basketball of course. I was huge Michael Jordan fan and he was a huge Scotty Pippen fan. I would tell him that Michael Jordan was the best player to ever play the game and he would argue that Michael wouldn’t be nearly as good if weren’t for Scotty Pippen, and that Pippen was the most underrated superstar to ever play the game. This was how Andy was ever since I was snotty nosed kid trying to get in the game at church camp with the older kids. Everyone else was, of course, singing about how they’d “wanna’ be like Mike” while Andy would shake his head and say “Nah’ Pippen is the man.”

Throughout that year, and afterward, we kept in touch and when he was back home from college we would play ball at the park and hang out. These times became less and less frequent until all of a sudden it had been the better part of a decade since we had seen one another. I reconnected with Andy not long ago and he invited me over to his place in Southwest Denver to watch some basketball. We sat in his Chicago Bulls themed “man cave” and watched his Bulls play and then my Nuggets play. It was great hanging out just talking basketball and Andy was just as passionate a fan as ever. He told me he had bought some tickets and and was going to travel to Chicago to watch his first Bulls game at the United Center. He was pumped, and had every right to be.

I got a text from Andy early one morning when I was getting my son ready for school: “Pippen signed my jersey and I got to shoot lay-ups during a time out at the game!!!”

People in Chicago go to countless games and don’t get that lucky. I believe it was the basketball gods rewarding an ardent, lifelong, Bulls fan with a chance to meet his hero and step on that hallowed court where his one and only favorite team played. How awesome it must have felt to take a run at the basket and watch a ball, that just left his hand, run through the net just like all those amazing shots that had made him stand up and cheer for all those years.

Needless to say I framed the jersey for him and I hope he likes it!

I am a junkie for sports, and sports drama in general. If you have some sports memorabilia bring it to me and I will frame it for you. Its one of my favorite things to do at work, and I have done a lot in ten years. While you’re here we can exchange stories and talk about sports.  Visit our website for more samples:

Picasso started somewhere

A Starbucks in south Denver selects artwork from a local elementary school to be displayed for a time in their coffee shop.  A client’s child was selected and it became a frequent stop for them while it was hanging, because the girl was just so excited.  Fortunately, her mother recognized and seized the opportunity to surprise her daughter by framing the piece along with her entry card after it was taken down.

Kristen Quintana, Second Grade

“Aye-aye” mixed media

With school budgets being cut, art class is always the first on the chopping block.  I was in preschool the day that I was first complimented on my use of symmetry.  I had colored a butterfly the same way on both sides, big deal.  But, I will never forget the sense of pride I had taking that butterfly home, giving it to my mom and it making it’s fateful final resting place on the refrigerator.  I grew up in a small town, with no custom framing business or Starbucks.  I have no doubt that if my mom had the framing eduction she has now, she would have had the butterfly framed and it would still hang in her bedroom next to my hand print.  Instead it went to the fridge, then under the fridge and ultimately in the the trash.

Custom framing anything is an investment.  We always recommend conservation framing, even for kids art.  The reality is that a limited edition print you bought from your favorite artist is more replaceable than the first dinosaur that your child drew independently, spent hours coloring just the right way and signed proudly.  Whether or not you’re an artist or if your child ever aspires to be, the confidence you can give them by taking enough pride in their work to hang it prominently in your home will last a lifetime.  Not to mention what it will give you to have that brief moment preserved for a lifetime.

We’re honored to be hosting Dora Moore Elementary for the second year this coming April.  Their art teacher, Julie Weir, teaches preschool through 8th grade and ensures that every child she teaches will have something displayed here for their friends, family and the public to view.  All art will be on display for the April First Friday Art Walk and all day Saturday, April 7th.  100% of the proceeds from the art sold will benefit the children themselves and a small portion is used for their art program.

Conservation Framing: Preserve Your Art and the Environment.

Picture framing is not often considered in the conversation regarding eco-friendly industries based on the nature of the products that are traditionally used. Most frames are made out of, you guessed it, wood, and that wood comes from our forests. We are people who care deeply about our environment and cherish every moment we get to spend in the beautiful places our world has to offer.

As a picture framers and people who care about our environment it is import to us that we try to find ways to minimize the impact that our business has on the planet. That is why we carry  Framerica®’s Bonanzawood® moulding line. It is a line of moulding that is made of  recycled, post consumer goods, such as; pallets, skids, construction materials, trim ends and saw dust. This “waste material” would otherwise be destined for our landfills or burned. The product is a composite wood of the highest quality, value, and is very consistent. We recommend it to all artists who are showing in our gallery and need framing, for its affordable price-point, and to anyone who is looking for a great moulding made in America with the environment in mind. By choosing Framerica®’s Bonanzawood® and indirectly supporting their mass recycling effort – our business and our clients effectively  keep hundreds of thousands of mature trees standing. Framericas production facility in New York has been designated an “EPP Downstream Licensed Facility” signifying its pledge to produce mouldings using some of the greenest core materials available.

In honor of our 2nd annual “Surface Film” photography show to benefitTrout Unlimited, we are currently running a sale of 20% off your entire order when you use Framerica®’s Bonanzawood® moulding! Lets work together conserve your art and our planet!

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?

You’ve been at the mall for hours now, mindlessly strolling through the merchandise trying to find a gift that actually means something for someone you truly care about. You’re constantly second guessing yourself and the whirl and bustle of preoccupied shoppers with bags overflowing with gifts is starting to make your head spin. You don’t want to be underwhelming but you also don’t have thousands of dollars to burn. Last year was a total bust, what seemed to be right wasn’t, the half smiles and luke warm hugs are still fresh in your memory. You stagger for the doors, lost in a maze of Holiday SALE banners and the stench of over priced perfume clings to your nostrils and the back of your throat. You hit the exit doors like a drunk at last call, the cold air shocking your clammy face. That was your third try, still no luck.  What are you going to do?

Have you ever felt like this? I know I have, buying the right gift for someone special during the holidays can be a lot of pressure. You want to be thoughtful, cost conscious, and make yourself and that special person happy. Have you ever considered the gift of custom framing? Not only does it meet all the criteria of a great gift,  it’s also something that creates a bond between the gift giver and the recipient. Maybe its a collection of treasured family photos for mom, preserved and displayed for a lifetime. A shadow box of grandmas keepsakes from years ago. Concert ticket stubs from that first date with the love of your life. A collection of photos and tiny fuzzy reminders of that day you brought your new baby home from the hospital. The possibilities are endless. The end result is much more than a gift, its a preserved memory, a moment in time that can be revisited over and over, proudly and prominently displayed for all to see.

Here at Anthology Fine Art we want to help you give the best gift you’ve ever given. With years of experience, expert design advise, reasonable prices, and a lifetime warranty on your framing, we promise that this year your gift will make the impression that you want it to. Leave your worries behind, we can make it happen.  For more inspiration:

“Like” Anthology Fine Art on Facebook and receive an additional 5% off the perfect gift.

Small Business is the American Dream

We all know that we live in difficult times. So many factors we can’t control have such a bearing on our day-to-day lives. The housing market is down, the economy seems to always be on the brink, and the federal government can’t  get anything done. All we have to do is turn on TV, go on-line, or listen to the radio and we are reminded of the dreary state of things. With all of this negativity surrounding us it’s hard to keep a positive attitude. Just five years ago the American Dream was alive and well but today it seems as though it is dead. I’m here to tell you that this is not true. The American Dream is alive and well.

A few short years ago my wife, Kendra, and I were busy creating a business plan to open our own Custom Picture Framing and Portrait Photography business. The housing bubble had just burst like a ripe pimple and the economy was in a death spiral. We knew the risk but were undaunted, if we weren’t moving forward we were in a free fall of fear.  It was something that we both always wanted to do and part of why I love her so much; she always pushes me to “dream big” and “take chances”. This was our time and we were confident we could make it work together. To make along story short we found a store front  at 635 Santa Fe Drive, in the heart of the ArtDistrict in our beautiful Mile High City. We opened the doors in August of 2010 with our  hearts full of hope and a drive for success that burned white-hot. Every foot through the door was a reason to celebrate and every new client was a new friend. The roller-coaster had just begun and we were happy to be in the first car with our hands high. We have had the chance to get to know the other small business owners around us riding that roller-coaster as well and quickly realized that we all shared a similar vision of the American Dream. We also realized how fragile that dream can be on every slow day when the phone doesn’t ring and the door doesn’t open. We know that without the support and nurturing of the community our American Dream will die. I would like to give you all some reasons why you should support the small businesses in your community and keep the American Dream alive.

1. Keep your money in your neighborhood. Studies have proven that locally owned small businesses put up to 70% more money  back into their local communities than chain stores do, per square foot occupied.

2. Make you neighborhood unique. The places that we shop, the places we eat and hang-out define our neighborhoods. The character of our neighborhoods change when chain stores set up shop. It makes us less unique and more like everywhere else.

3. Get the best service. You know your neighbors behind the counter at your local small businesses, and they know you. They take the time to get to know your needs, have a deep knowledge and understanding of the products they are selling so that they can serve you better.

4. Create and keep good jobs. Your locally owned small businesses are the largest source of employment nationally, and are responsible for the vast majority of job growth. Small businesses are less likely to out-source jobs or to leave their communities and take jobs with them.

5. Promote Diversity and healthy competition.  A healthy population of small businesses all selecting products based on the needs of their customers and not a national sales plan, creates a broader range of choices for local consumers.

6. Help protect the environment. Locally owned businesses are more likely to buy locally which requires less transportation. They are also more likely to set up shop in commercial corridors rather than the fringes of communities. This means less sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.

7. Support local charities. Local community groups and non-profits receive an average of 350% more support for the locally owned businesses compared to non-locally owned businesses.

8. Better use of tax dollars. Small neighborhood businesses make better use of public services and require a substantially smaller infrastructure investment than huge nationally owned stores entering the community.

9. Stimulate the local economy. If every household in your community redirected just $50-100 dollars of their planned holiday spending to locally owned merchants the positive impact on the local economy would be in the millions. Washington isn’t going to get that done but you can.

10. Invest in your community. Local small business owners and their employees live and work in your community. They are invested with much more than just their dollars.

With the holidays approaching and preparations being made to give thanks and celebrate with our loved ones, I ask you; what will you do to help keep the American Dream alive. On behalf of the small business community in your neighborhood I thank you for your support. Small Business Saturday is November 26th.

Zach Custer.

60% off what?

Have you ever wondered about the 60% off framing sales you see running all the time at the big framing and craft stores? I know I have, as a small business framer I often wonder how can you afford to discount your product 60% so often and still be profitable? The answer is simple – you mark everything up by 60%! I did a little undercover work the other day and found out some interesting things.

I glued on my fake mustache and slid on my spy glasses to go and see what was up.  I took along a print that I really like and had the folks at the big stores give me some prices.  I knew what I wanted – a simple double mat with a nice contemporary black frame so I figured it would
be pretty easy for the sales person to walk me through the design process.  I explained to the gentleman that the print was valuable and I wanted it well-preserved.  He looked at the print and said to me; “blue… black… red… should be an easy kill”.  Now, I know the blue, black and red part was in reference to the colors in the composition but the “easy kill” part kind of threw me off. Was that a Steven Seagal reference?  Does he know I’m a spy?.  He proceeded to walk me to the ready-made frame section.  I asked him if these frames would keep my art well-preserved.  ”Oh so you want custom ” he said and walked me back to the counter.  He pulled out a blue top mat and red suede bottom mat and made a quick gesture to the wall where the black frames hung.  I told him I would prefer a crisp white top mat and an 1/8 of an inch or so of the red bottom mat, it didn’t need to be the red suede mat that he had pulled because it would be so small.  He grabbed another red mat from the sample bin and a random white mat for the top realizing that this might not be an “easy kill” after all.  I walked over to the black frame samples and pulled a couple that I thought would be appropriate. I set one on the top of  the samples and asked for his opinion.  ”Looks pretty good”, he says as he starts to measure the art. I told him that I measured the art at home and wanted an 11×14 opening with three inches of mat so that I could cover some of the graph paper at the top and bottom, but still show as much of the pattern as possible.  He told me that he thought an 11×13 window with 5 inches of mat was needed. I started my framing career at a similar store some 10 years ago and I know this isn’t his fault; he is just up selling me, which is what he was trained to do.  I grabbed another tape measure and proceeded to show him what I meant.  He said that was fine if that’s what I wanted and adjusted the measurements in his computer.  After a few more minutes of hammering away at the key board and clicking the mouse periodically he turns to me and says “$179.06″.  I asked if that reflected the 60% off  discount he said that it did. “$447.65 is the price before the discount”.  I told him that I needed some time to think it over and asked for a quote which he printed for me.  I thanked him for his time and walked away. I went on to a couple more places and had similar experiences, under trained staff rushing me through the design process, little explanation as to what I was getting, and in the end a huge discount off a huge price.

Now I get it.  $179.06 is a reasonable (full) price but $447.65 is HIGH, REALY HIGH!  Keep in mind that this piece (finished) was around 16×20 inches and I wasn’t asking for any bells and whistles just that I would like it to be well-preserved.  I didn’t get much more than a, “Yes it will be,” for an explanation but I will admit I didn’t force the issue.  I assume that meant archival mounting and I did ask if the glass was U.V. protecting and he said that it was. I think that if you are about to drop nearly $200 dollars on something you should know what it is you’re getting.  I do not fault the sales associate, he was probably just seasonal help, and I could tell he wasn’t trying to make this his career but, for me it is a career and I am passionate about it.  I think that it is misleading to consumers to advertise 60% off of such an inflated price.  I assume when someone gets there receipt and it says that they just saved $268.59 they feel pretty good about the purchase, and might even treat themselves to a nice lunch with all the money saved.  In reality, they didn’t save anything. I priced out a comparable design here at Anthology Fine Art and the full price was $170.30 with our Holiday Sale the price was $143.37.

Here at Anthology Fine Art we promise expert design and top shelf customer service.  We care about the framing we do for our customers because it defines us as a business. We may not always be able to beat 60% off prices but we promise not to mislead you.

Clyfford Still Museum

It’s a rare opportunity when someone asks you to construct and stretch a twelve by eight foot canvas.  We were fortunate enough to be challenged and to now be on the other side of it.

It’s also not everyday that you have a chance to paint on something that big.  They looked like they were having a great time.  Hmm, maybe we should do it again.

The new Clyfford Still Museum opens next week!  We can’t wait to see the work that inspired this enormity.

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Denver Custom Framing

Zach and Kendra Custer have been custom framing for a combined 30 years in the Denver area. In addition to offering picture framing and portrait photography, their large gallery features local, emerging artists. Whether you're looking for affordable custom framing with superior customer service, a family portrait or a new piece of art, Anthology Fine Art is your one stop shop.

3419 S Lincoln St. Englewood, CO 80113

Tuesday-Friday 10-6 Saturday 10-5

Sunday and Monday by Appointmen