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I want to be a picture framer, how do I become one?

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Wiki-Knowledge-article-iconWhat? You want to be  a picture framer? Do you know what you're letting yourself in for? If not, here are some facts aboupicture-framer-using-vee-nailert picture framers, picture framing and the picture framing industry in general. Currently there are almost no jobs, vacancies or employment opportunities in our industry. An Australian Job Search for picture framer vacancies on 20 February  2020 yielded zero vacancies, either part or full time. Searches with other job sites were just as disappointing. There were 2 or 3 more jobs here and there but all were for part time, wood process work, wood factory hands or wood labourers at junior wages.

We could find no employer willing to indenture or offering picture framing apprenticeships. The Picture Framers Guild of Australia has been actively trying to promote picture framing trade apprenticeships in Australia. With and approved Registered Training Organization The Certificate III - Picture Framing Apprenticeship is nationally  recognized and part of the Australian Qualification Network.

The picture framer apprenticeship scheme is laudable and well-intentioned but fails abysmally in the brutal, real-life, free-market economy or our modern marketplace. Most employers will only employ the cheapest labour he or she can find with the minimum legal obligations. The last thing they want is to tie themselves down to a legal indenture contract for several years and its concomitant apprenticeship work, study and wages obligations.

This is why there seem to be only lowly-paid, piecemeal, menial and casual vacancies available in the picture framing industry. None of the jobs appear to offer satisfying, promising, permanent or well-remunerated career prospects. If you're wondering why this is, and why there aren't more jobs available for picture framers then you might to like to know what has happened to all the picture frames stores that used to be around.

In a nutshell however, the internet has revolutionized the picture framing industry as well. Customers aren't having custom picture frames or photo frames made as much or as often as they used to. Nowadays they go online and with a few mouse clicks they buy complete, ready-to-hang, fully imported oil paintings and picture frames. That mean less picture framing work for local picture framers. Customers don't do this because they don't like local picture framers. They do it because it's cheaper, and often, a lot cheaper, it's that simple.

But perhaps all this won't deter you, you're really determined. The doom and gloom doesn't faze you. All you want to know is how to become a picture framer. Basically, there are four ways. The first way is to learn it while working as an employee. We've already discussed these employment possibilities in the preceding paragraphs. However, if you're lucky or persistent enough to get a job in the industry you ought to acquire some colour, design and manual skills along the way.

You should be taught how to cut, saw, drill, join and staple a variety of picture framing materials. Your employer may also share with you who his suppliers are so that you know where to buy picture framing timber mouldings, picture framing glass, picture framing machinery, tools, supplies, etc. An appreciation of aesthetics and a quality finish are essential. Your industry employment should teach to make your own decisions and how to set and keep deadlines so that customers will see you as reliable and dependable.

If you are able to liaise and work directly with customers, that would be a bonus. Ideally you will also develop a sales personality so as to bring in picture framing work at the sales counter as well as making picture frames in the workshop. The second way is to undertake a TAFE college course, do a course with a private course provider or complete one online with a similar teaching institution.

The course wouldn't be so much as to formally qualify you, because in Australia you can work as a picture framer without any formal qualifications, but to impart you at least the essential theoretical and practical picture framing rudiments. Fortunately there are several picture framing training providers in Australia.  Sometime ago, Google searches yielded a few Australian Certificate courses in picture framing course.

Once you've successfully completed your picture framing course, you could then perhaps try your hand in starting up your own picture framing store, if you feel confident enough, and if you have enough money or start-up capital. The third way is to start making picture frames as a "backyard hobby framer" in your garage or toolshed for family, relatives, friends and neighbours. They will probably want inexpensive art framed cheaply, and that's a good way to start because if you make a mistake, you won't do it to something expensive or valuable.

You'll most probably need a few thousand dollars, some D.Y.O. books, how-to internet picture framing videos and may be attend some timber or picture framing trade show classes. The fourth way and the hardest is to open up a picture frames retail store with adjoining picture framing workshop and perhaps, art gallery. However unless you already own your own commercial property, you'll have to lease a shop, store, workshop or factory.

As with any commercial lease, there are overheads and outgoings such as Council rates, business registration fees, insurances, electricity and utilities, to name just some. Of course, before signing a lease or making any other financial commitment, you should consult with and seek advice from your lawyer and accountant. Once you get that advice you could then making plans to start up your own shop. You might also ask, what's a good working area?

Well, the e more space you can get the better but however large or small your work area will need to be well lit. It should also be shielded from the extremes of weather , with heating and cooling to keep all materials stable, without expanding and contracting. Regardless of which of these four picture framing trade entry methods you choose, you will need several machines, hand tools, power tools, timber mouldings, glazing stock, large work benches and hardware accessories before you begin making frames.

A leading picture framing machinery supplier and a good place to start from would be Antons  in Melbourne. How much money will you need? Well, the most expensive items would be a guillotine or chopper to cut timber mouldings, a vee-nailer to nail and join the cut moulding sections into frames, a vacuum-press to either dry or wet-mount customers' artwork, a bench straight-line mat cutter to cut window mats and a wall cutter to cut MDF boards and cut glass.

All up maybe up to $20,000, depending on what deal you can get and which machinery brand you opt for. Once you've set up then you could start taking in jobs, or work, or customers' artwork for framing. For further education you could review, contact or join industry publications and professional associations such as Décor Magazine, Profile Magazine and the Picture Framers' Guild Australia, to name a few. However your real picture framing education would start with you making your first picture frame for your first customer.

4 thoughts on “I want to be a picture framer, how do I become one?

  1. Geez .. I can’t believe it’s that tough? Surely you’re exaggerating? I did notice picture frames stores closing down but I always though that was because of high rents? Are you saying that making picture frames is so unskilled that people pay you the minimum, about $16.75 an hour? If that’s all I’ve got to look forward to then I’d be better of on the dole then wouldn’t I? And how do I get work if I start up on my own? Obviously it’s pointless to open up a store in my shopping strip and waiting for customers to come in right? Anybody got any ideas as I’m interested in doing picture framing.

  2. Why be a picture framer? Why not just import cheap photo frames and cheap picture frames from China or wherever and sell them online? Why go to all the trouble of learning the picture framing trade and risking your super to set up a business selling products few people want?

  3. I got a job as a trainee picture framer in Darwin about 8 months ago and couldn’t be happier. The work is clean and interesting, I get $22 x hour which is enough for me for now and my bosses are very nice and friendly. They never push me to work faster, just to become better and to strive for a quality product. So I disagree with this article and I love making picture frames and being a picture framer.

  4. I love making my on home picture frames and I’d love to become a professional picture framer but I tried and I can’t get a job !! Every framer I rang is either very quiet, not putting on staff, or instead putting off people or closing down !! What’s going on? The feedback I get from the picture framers I approached here in Melbourne is that not so many people want custom picture frames any more because they’re so expensive! What do other people think?

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