Frame & Canvas is a custom picture framing shop located in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal where you can frame artwork of all formats and styles. We spoke with the owners, Angela Desvenaux and Gilles Castilloux, to find out more about them and their business.
What is your business called and what does it do?
Frame & Canvas has been in business for 14 years now and we specialize in custom framing artwork of all formats and styles, using conservation methods and materials. We also offer other services such as canvas stretching, lamination and the retail of small prints made by local artists.
What made you want to do this work?
In all honesty, I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a custom picture framer! It’s not one of those classic occupations you learn about in school, and also, it’s not a trade you can learn in school! My partner and I were musicians before we bought the shop and we were in a touring band. But at some point, it didn’t pay the bills anymore. So when our neighbourhood custom picture framer, who was also our downstairs neighbour, was looking to take on an apprentice in hopes of one day passing on his shop and business, we jumped on the opportunity. It was a scary ride at first,….we did 3 months of training with him and then went to an International Picture Framing Convention in Las Vegas where we followed numerous courses on the trade and learned special conservation techniques. We told ourselves that this would be a trial adventure and the learning curve took a good 5 years of effort and a lot of guts. But in the end, we really ended up loving the work, the clientele and the industry. Because we were already in the musical art scene, jumping into the visual art scene still felt very comfortable for us.
What problem did you want to solve with the business?
I guess we’re not out to really solve any problem but rather offer our clients the best protection for their artwork. I’d like to think that our customer service and our craftsmanship make people feel satisfied and comfortable since not everyone has experience getting stuff framed. We want people to understand and really see the difference when you get artwork custom framed as opposed to simply putting art prints or photos in a premade, or mass-produced frame, such as IKEA. Don’t get me wrong,…I do LOVE IKEA, but for certain things,… hee hee!
Who are your clientele/demographics?
Mostly people from our neighbourhood and neighbouring boroughs, so, Mile-End, Plateau Mont-Royal, Rosemont, Park Extension, Villeray, Outremont, etc. We also have some clients who were recommended to them by our existing clientele and come from off the island. People of all ages, and income wages get stuff framed. I’m always really impressed when students, who probably live in a small apartment and have little income, come in to frame an inspiring print they bought at a local art fair ; )
How does your business make money? How does it work?
Custom framing can cost a bit of money, even though we are well within the competitive price ranges in our industry. I always suggest that people get a couple of things framed at a time, rather than a handful of items. That way, you choose design options that really stand out, results that you won’t be disappointed with. At our shop, you pay a 50% deposit when dropping off your work and then pay the balance when you pick up your finished frame.
Where in Montreal can we find your profession?
Frame & Canvas is located at 220A Bernard Street West, near Park avenue, in Mile-End. You can also visit our website.
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.
I get asked this question a lot by our customers and usually, I say something like, we are a small business and we really care about the quality of the work we do, because it reflects directly upon us. In bigger retail stores, the employees don’t worry as much about the poor quality, because it’s not their business at stake. So, in that respect, I’d say, we really care about customer satisfaction and take special care that the work is done right, using only high-quality materials. Make sure you compare apples with apples, …. this is what I usually tell my clients that are doing price or product comparisons.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
I’d say there are a lot of amazing parts about our work, including great customers who have an appreciation for art, which always makes for interesting conversations. Also, when I’m in production mode, I put on some of my favourite music and focus on the immediate work of my hands. Kinda feels meditative and therapeutic. I’d say the worst part is the stress that comes when a project has a deadline and we are faced with obstacles, such as delays in the delivery of materials. As I said, it’s my business, so if I give my word to a client about a date or deadline, it disappoints me if I can’t make the deadline!
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
Hmmm, …that’s a hard one, us framers are all perfectionists, so we tend to lose our sense of humour,…kiddin’! I guess no particular joke that comes to mind…..
We almost called our business The Rich and Framous ?!
What are your social media channels?
Come find us, we post regularly!
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Montreal business that you love?
I love the Japanese paper store on Fairmont ave. called Papier Japonais. I could spend hours in there looking at all the beautiful paper-printed patterns.
There is also a great little store on our street called Bref, which sells a bunch of cool nick-nacks that follow a theme, which they change every month.