Hang around the Creative Framing shop for any length of time, and you’ll be surprised at the variety of jobs that owner Jim Cox and his crew take on.
Creative Framing is one of only a handful of professional art framers still left in Taos, so the shop in the Enchanted Plaza at Salazar and Paseo del Cañon West is busy. Notable Taos artists still employ Cox to handle their high-end work, but there’s a greater number of everyday folks coming to Creative Framing these days.
“We are getting more and more local people looking for framing services,” Cox said during a recent visit at the shop. “Because we have a large working space here, we like to say, ‘If you can get it through the door, we’ll frame it.’”
Since Cox bought the business from longtime framer Renze Nesbit a year ago, Creative Framing’s services have expanded along with the nature of its customer base. More and more first-time customers are coming through the door wanting to preserve art that they have had in their homes for years, said Cox. That means more shrink wrapping, dry mounting and laminating for Cox and his workers.
For those wanting a frame for a piece of original artwork or print, Creative Framing offers a close-to-home option to driving to a hobby store in Santa Fe or beyond, said Cox.
“We’ve had a lot of life photos that people want framed for their family, and we are a cost-effective alternative to doing it yourself,” he said. “We provide much more choice than stores do, and we give you a less generic look.”
First-time customers often need more personalized attention, something Cox and his assistants enjoy doing. If they make an appointment, the Creative Framing folks will spend as much time as necessary to show people their options and find exactly what will fit with their piece of art.
In addition, Cox wants to make framing affordable for anyone who comes to the shop. That means keeping prices within the range of people’s budgets while still maintaining Creative Framing’s reputation for top-notch workmanship.
Walk around the two spacious rooms at Creative Framing and Taoseños will likely see the work of many well-known Taos artists. Awaiting framing, there may be a lively expressionist canvas by Inger Jirby, a stylized abstract by Steven Kilborn or a haunting black-and-white Lenny Foster. Some of Taos’ most renowned galleries, like the Wilder Nightingale Gallery and Ortenstone DeLattre Fine Art, patronize Creative Framing because they know they will get a professional, high-end job.
And Cox sees a growing number of new and emerging artists in Taos who need to get their work framed for a show or hanging. At Creative Framing, they find, in Cox, a fellow artist who has an eye for how the design of a frame can enhance the presentation of their work. His art hangs on the walls of the shop and he conducts painting classes there, too — surrounded by a small gallery with his works, and the works of Dalbert Winberg, Crystal Orlando and others. So Cox can point to what has worked for him and for others.
“They try out this ‘framing idea’ here,” he said. “We try to give them a frame that is also a piece of art.”
Cox has seen that the “eye of Taos is changing” in terms of frame design. More and more people are looking for more color and innovative design in their frames. As such, the sample wall at Creative Framing includes bright colors, metallic finishes and fabrics. The extent of alternative framing has gone into an antique sheen, needlepoint and tapestry, as the imagination of the customer is the only restraint on what will enhance their artwork.
The growth of dimensional artwork around Taos, like wall sculptures or weavings, continues to expand the demand for shadow boxes with greater depths behind the glass.
Creative Framing associate Olga Teresa, herself an accomplished artist, has taken on the job of widening the business’ exposure in social media. A Facebook page now joins the shop’s website in getting the word out about Creative Framing and what it can do for anyone who needs framing or preservation of artwork.
While Cox embraces new ways of marketing his business, he remains true to the precision, patience and expertise that keeps him at the forefront of the framing business in Taos.
“It's been a crazy ride for framers in Taos, but I guess some of us love it too much because we just don’t seem to give up,” said Cox, who began framing at Taos Do-It-Yourself Picture Framing that he bought from longtime framer Frank Bell. “I have customers that just seem to find me, no matter where I go. Lots of nomadic years in the books.”