In the past decade, the art and framing industry has faced a number of significant challenges. It has experienced the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the crash of the housing market, and the proliferation of big-box craft stores.
All of these factors have affected the sales and profitability of small independent frame shops and galleries. Yet, through ingenuity and perseverance, they’ve managed to survive, and art and framing sales are now experiencing a resurgence in sales. This situation is especially true for independent framers, who are starting to gain market share as more and more consumers recognize that 70 percent off a grossly inflated price is not such a great deal for a frame design showing a lack of professional design skills.
Just as handing someone a paint set doesn’t make them an artist, giving someone a title and showing them how to use a cash register doesn’t suddenly endow them with the skills they need to be a professional frame designer. It’s taken years, but consumers have finally begun to recognize that the real value of custom framing is in the enduring beauty of the results, not in the inexpensive frames they see in newspaper ads. The industry today is smarter, bolder, and more profitable than it has been at any other time in the past decade. However, despite this increase in prosperity, framers have yet to overcome one obstacle: the widespread, misguided, and illogical placement of flat-screen televisions on walls, instead of in entertainment centers or on furniture. This trend in consumer behavior has caused the framing market to shrink, robbed it of millions of sales opportunities, and generated a tremendous amount of human pain and suffering.
Despite its widespread and devastating consequences to art and framing merchants and to consumers, the problem has gone mostly unnoticed and almost completely ignored, and it has grown to pandemic proportions. And it’s got me hoppin’ mad.
Flat screens have taken over valuable vertical real estate that was once the domain of artists, photographers, and framers. Paintings, prints, photographs, needlework, and lots of frames—your frames and my frames—belong on walls. What does not belong on walls are rectangular black holes of nothingness.
And it’s all the Jetsons’ fault—George, Jane, Judy, and even little Elroy. They started it. They were the first perpetrators of this mess. They’re the ones who made us yearn for the advent of wall-mounted TVs. And now we’ve got ’em. But the Jetsons were wrong.
TVs do not belong on walls. They surely don’t belong in the corner near a ceiling. And they have absolutely no business being mounted above a fireplace. Just because your customers can mount their Samsungs and Vizios on their walls doesn’t mean they should. In fact, mounting a TV on a wall isn’t just a bad idea from the perspective of a custom framer, it’s also a bad idea for your health.
Historically, as you may recall, people placed TVs at eye level. Because most people watch television from a seated position, TVs were once much closer to the floor. This placement provided a viewing experience similar to what one enjoys when sitting in the center of a movie theater.
Earlier generations of TVs were in their own cabinets or consoles; placed on stands; or tucked into entertainment centers, which have doors to hide the rectangular black hole when it is not in use. Today’s TVs are much lighter and flatter than those of yesteryear. They rarely exceed a thickness of more than 5 to 6 inches, making wall mounting possible.
But almost every wall-mounted TV is positioned much higher on the wall than is optimal for comfortable viewing from a sofa or an easy chair. These viewing angles can produce stiff necks, sore shoulders, and aching backs. If you don’t believe it, ask a chiropractor. Most will tell you that wallmounted TVs are great for their business.
Any adult who has ever had the unfortunate experience of sitting in the first few rows of a movie theater should know better than to mount a TV so high up on a wall. Sure, it was cool to sit in the front row of the theater when you were 10 years old, but no adult ever willingly sits that close to the screen. Long before the movie is over, your neck is certain to feel like a PEZ dispenser locked in the tilted-back position.
Wall-mounted TVs rob custom framers of potential sales, and they need to do something about it. They need to take back what belongs to them.
Unfortunately, this trend is not likely to go away anytime soon, and there’s little framers can do about it. However, you might consider educating your customers by providing literature about the potential health problems—and letting them know why they don’t want to emulate the Jetsons.
Dean Charles Marshall
As a former custom framer of 25 years I concur with you completely, however, the scourge of flat screen televisions is just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s be honest, society has morphed into a culture of celebrity worshipers, gossip monkeys and techno zombies so enamoured with their trite and trivial pursuits they’ve come to believe their own BS as gospel. Today’s pathetic sense of aesthetics can be summarized in one word – selfies!!! The Millennial and Generation X crowd are all about indulging in their narcissistic fantasies and virtual realities, which at the end of the day are pretty much inane and pointless undertakings. Simply, gibberish run amok. The same calamity has befallen the antique market as well. The younger generations just don’t give a sh-t about anything that can’t deliver instant gratification over their smartphones. The truth is, their money is in hi-tech “gadgets and gizmos” that entertain and not educate. Yes, I’m an “old geezer” baby boomer who still remembers the glory days of custom picture framing (1970s – 1980s), when consumers would drop big $$$$ on framing posters, tapestries, photos, needlepoints, watercolours, oils etc. Today when I visit the homes of my nieces, nephews and their friends the walls are totally barren except for the frigging 72 inch HD “big screen” TV with 20 surround sound speakers, Xbox and Amazon Echo all neatly ensconced in a cheap ass, particle board console from IKEA. It’s great to hear that independent framers are still making a living, but I’m afraid their days are numbered as artificial intelligence gains more and more control over our lives and where an appreciation of the arts becomes just another passing fad.
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