Featured Artist Interview

Neal DePinto

Artist Neal DePinto was our Featured Artist Contest winner for the month of April. Take a look at his paintings: they are beautiful, intriguing, colorful and skillfully created. Neal hones his craft the old fashioned way: through hard work, planning and experimentation. Inspired by the world around him, he works from the arsenal of photographs he took while in Europe with the Air Force, serving our country between 1993-1999. Our conversation reveals his passion for excellence and some wonderful advice for other aspiring artists like himself. Enjoy!

ND: Hello

LJ: Neal? It’s Laura Jajko and Aubrey Koralewski at American Frame. How are you?
ND: Good

LJ: Good! Is this still a good time to connect?
ND: Yes

LJ: Good, good! Before we get started I just have to tell you - I’m just stunned by your skill as a painter. It’s almost photorealistic. It looks like you could be photorealistic but almost choose not to.
ND: I appreciate that. The reason for that being that my main influence and interest in art was movies and visual effects, which entail being able to paint photo realistically and I realized that if I were to pursue that, I would have to have that level of skill. So that was my introduction to painting and after being able to paint photo realistically, from there you can pretty much do everything else and going more towards fine art, my challenge was to loosen up.

LJ: Isn’t that interesting! So, did you paint for movies or movie sets?
ND: No, my goal was to possibly work in the visual effects industry at some point so I had to make sure that if I were to enter it, my expertise in that field would have been doing what they call matte paintings, which is painting backgrounds sort of realistically which then get optically composited with a live action shot or a live action plate. So I had to make sure I would be able to do that and that was kind of my test or my training to make sure if I could do that, I would be able to do anything else that I would pursue in the visual arts.

My main influence and interest in art was movies and visual effects, which entail being able to paint photo realistically and I realized that if I were to pursue that, I would have to have that level of skill.
Neal DePinto
I never lose my ability to pretend I'm someone else; to be objective and look at my work and say "what would I like to see? I might not know why this looks good bu I know it looks good.
Neal DePinto

LJ: Right. I notice you’re from New Jersey. Where is Westwood?
ND: Westwood, being my town of birth, is in northern Bergin county. So we’re basically a suburb of New York City, just across the Hudson. Very woodsy, leafy suburb but New York is only about 20 minutes away.

LJ: Nice! Sounds like a beautiful area.

LJ: Anyways, you received the list of questions that we are going to go over today?
ND: Yes.

LJ: Do you mind if I start asking them?
ND: No, not at all.

LJ: Okay. Well let’s just start at the beginning. When did you start producing your art?
ND: Well, I started drawing just by natural inclination and a desire to do so in my early teens, with pens and pencils. Once my skills developed on a more serious level, I only worked exclusively in pencils. I was going for a very tight, photorealistic style. And I didn’t know how to paint or have a need to paint until I was around 28 years old, when my interest started getting more serious with possible goals of entering the visual effects field.

LJ: So, this was hobby?
ND: It was a professional goal but I’ve always worked a regular job in a non-creative field and didn’t have much education or higher education until after going into the Air Force and deciding to utilize my GI Bill and get some formal education. So it was always a plan to do it professionally eventually and I worked, like many people, an unrelated job to support myself. And then taught myself to paint, like I said, around age 28.

LJ: Where did you serve?
ND: I was in the Air Force and New Jersey Air National Guard. Once I graduated from basic training and tech school in Texas, I came home and just did my one weekend a month, two weeks a year, at McGuire Air Force Base which is Burlington New Jersey. From there, then I had the opportunity to volunteer for and get picked for some extra duties, two of which were travelling to England and Italy, where unbeknownst to me at the time, the many photographs I took there and experiences there wound up being the source of inspiration.

LJ: Talk about subject matter and inspiration! It’s nice when someone else foots the bill.
ND: Yeah

LJ: -laughs- and sends you there
ND: Yeah! I had a place to live and three meals a day and very little free time. But what I did on my free time, we utilized it to the best of our ability.

LJ: Awesome! How many years did you spend there?
ND: I was in the service for 6 years: 1993-1999

LJ: So that was a while ago. It doesn’t sound like that long ago but ….
ND: It is strange. In a way, I’ve been out of the service for 16 years. But on the other hand my best friend now, who lives in Connecticut, is a friend from the Air Force. So in a way it seems like a long time ago but on the other hand, the memories are very vivid.

LJ: As a creative young man, was your family supportive of that or did you have to rebel to become an artist?
ND: My parents divorced when I was 3 years old, so my mother was my main parent and she was very creative and supportive. She sang professionally in a choir and my brother played guitar, which I eventually learned as well. So, to me, guitar playing and painting are analogous and enhance each other’s skills. So I was always in a creative environment and had a lot of support with that.

LJ: Creativity was encouraged it sounds like.
ND: Yes, it was always movies, music, guitar, and painting.

LJ: Sounds like the house I grew up in. Lots of different things going on. So you’re not a degreed artist - you’re completely self taught?
ND: Yes I was self taught before I started my education, which was originally biology as my major and then I switched to computer graphics when I saw that they had an appropriate program. So my interest is very much in science and art on a daily basis. But school definitely asked me to create with different mediums that I wouldn’t have been interested in or used myself and taught me how to work and produce something by a deadline. It taught me how to work, which was the purpose of it ultimately.

LJ: When I look at your paintings, honestly, the way you use color, I mean you have a really strong sense of palette. I’m looking at the piece “Saint Marks Square,” which I’ve been lucky enough to visit. But the way you use the colors: very muted and then blue, how it pops certain aspects of the picture. It really draws attention to the people, while that grand space is looming behind it. Your use of color is just so interesting and that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people.
ND: I appreciate that. I guess its something that is my aptitude, as is certain elements of music. It’s something you’re born with and you need to be in a situation that makes you dig down and use that aptitude, which sadly there are many people who don’t. But, I would have to say I do have an instinctive sense with color. I like to look at a painting or any piece of art as a viewer would look at it. I never lose my ability to pretend I’m someone else; to be objective and look at my work and say “what would I like to see? I might not know why this looks good but I know it looks good.” And so, that piece is an example, I just wanted to go for a kind of old world European look where there are a lot of muted golds and browns and get a feel for that particular area or culture and put a modern twist on it with a little bit of brightness.

LJ: Absolutely! Looking at the piece that you had entered into the contest, which was the “Waiting to Cross,” again, with the amount of detail and your use of light, shadow, and color, how long does it take you to do a piece like this?
ND: That’s a great question and unfortunately I don’t think I could ever answer it because the way I work is usually in a series and I’ll have several paintings in similar or various stages at the same time and I’ll wind up jumping back and forth to different ones. I’ve never worked on a painting straight through. But I would say if I worked straight through on a painting like that, taking it from a blank board, I could probably finish it in a week, or two weeks. Because I’m so detailed oriented there are many times where I’ll project when I’ll be done but then find that certain things take longer to render than I had originally planned. Although, of course you get faster the more you do it.

LJ: So what kind of studio space do you occupy to make all these paintings?
ND: I have an area in my living room where I keep my set up, which would be my easel, my palette pad, paints, brushes and I pack it all away when I have guests. It’s a small footprint, it would just be an area big enough to encompass the easel and me and my table on my left side and that’s about it.

LJ: Most people have a different space or they tuck their studio away in their bedroom, but I love it, you just put it right in your living room, that’s awesome!
ND: Yeah, that’s it. And then, as I said, on the rare occasions when I’m not working and I have guests over, it’s fortunately very portable. I have a system where I know how to pack everything away and break it back out. I always like to keep mobile and be able to do things quickly and on the move when I need to.

LJ: You probably learned that in the Air Force right?
ND: Yes, since I was a Mobility Officer, it came in handy. I had it before, but again, the military, like college, sharpened my skills and it taught me how to do things to the extreme.

LJ: So, do you ever paint outside, just in Plein Air?
ND: I haven’t. It’s just not something that is my interest or aptitude. I’m usually working on much more technical things. But I will shoot very large amounts of photographs, of course, and pretty much use those as reference later. I work better in a controlled environment and going back and forth from the digital realm to the physical realm will often plan on composition or process and refine my photos for better reference in the computer, using my graphics background and my knowledge of those programs.

LJ: Oh that’s interesting! So you can almost plan it out graphically before you actually take a brush to canvas?
ND: It gives you the luxury of physically being able to see a composition other than just in your mind so that you really know ‘do I have this? Does this look good?’ and then from there you can kind of make your final comp and go forward and get a physical painting from that.

LJ: That’s an innovative process. Very interesting. So, are you a full time artist or do you support yourself in another manner?
ND: No, I have a full time unrelated job to support myself, which I always have. My art career is transcending right now from the planning phase to actually going into fruition, just now with the contest being a major part of it.

LJ: Really!?
ND: Yeah, it’s because right now is a time when I have the resources. With the technology that exists, as pertaining to this contest in particular, I’m able to reach an audience that I never would have been able to do at another time in history.

LJ: Have you been able to sell anything online this way?
ND: I haven’t. Because I’m so new to it and the website that I designed and made hasn’t even been launched yet, but it will be this year.

LJ: Oh, wonderful!
ND: Yeah I sold some things at shows. I’ve done group shows at galleries and those are always a lot of fun and the thrill of it is beyond if you get a sale. To be able to let your work actually ‘work’ for you at that point and relax and intermingle with people and see the public face to face and answer their questions and see that they like your art. There’s nothing that can really give you that feeling more than that. It’s great to have that personal touch.

LJ: No kidding! And it must be really rewarding to hear people be amazed, like I am, even seeing this digitally, it’s truly nice work. Is your website launching in the Fall?
ND: It should be this year. It will be either Summer or Fall. I just have to finish a few more pieces of my paintings and load them up onto the site, which I created on my local site on the computer. So I just want to produce a few more works, including the next series, and when I feel it’s ready, launch. And in the meantime I have the Google+ art page which I believe you’ve seen.

LJ: Yeah! On your art gallery we have that “Connect with me at:” link. You can put your Google + page on that, it doesn’t have to be an internal link. Or what you can do, when we finish this interview, you will have your own landing page that’ll have this interview in its entirety. I try not to edit too much out, because even though people say not to publish long articles, I think that in these interviews a lot of valuable information is revealed in conversation and artists who want to learn from other artists, I think will benefit from it. So, the other option for you is to say “connect with me at: americanframe.com/neal-depinto-artist-interview”. But we will send you that link once we get it up and you might want to post the link to it there. That way people who are interested in your art can learn more about you in depth, right on our site.
ND: That’s great! I’m looking forward to that and I agree with you 100%, having read most of the other interviews that were published before, as an artist and as a contest winner, I got inspiration and insight from some of those other people and they were worth going in depth because it’s the only chance you’re really going to get to know the artist as a person, as I’ve done with other people who were my inspiration and it’s important. I enjoyed it. I don’t think there’s too much information, no matter how long the interview is. People can read it at their leisure, in sections, as I have. So I totally agree with you to go as long as you want.

LJ: Exactly! Put the information out there, that’s how I feel about it. We’ve already covered, inadvertently, the next question about your artistic process, but the next question involves themes. What would you describe as your underlying theme? Or do you find these to be random themes?
ND: I would say the cohesive theme in all my work, whether it’s visible or not, is I try to have energy and movement, bright colors, and I like to combine organic things with man-made and technical things.

LJ: Ah okay! Interesting! How you capture people, this is just amazing! Where is Piccadilly Street?
ND: Those are all in the center of London.

LJ: I’ve never been there so I don’t know!
ND: As is “Waiting to Cross”

LJ: So, yes, you have the old sculpture with some of the new advertisements so you know what kind of setting you’re in. You can really look at your pieces for a while and have plenty to study!
ND: Thank you! Yes, I try to keep it interesting. There is a lot of detail going on, it’s fun for the viewer to scan and pick out the familiar and the unfamiliar. There’s a fun combination for me, in terms of old architecture and new devices; new technology and there’s a lot of figure work.

LJ: It’s like you’re capturing the culture in a set time and a place you know?
ND: Right

LJ: Going back to inspiration… obviously your travels have inspired you. Are there other artists that you’ve looked to as you develop your own style? Who do you admire?
ND: In terms of the fine artists, I would say: Edward Hopper, as the American artist of known themes, is very influential and is in fact from this area. With his combination of everyday life and his rendering of people and long panoramic shots, not unlike the shape of a movie screen. In terms of the classic artists: from my studies in school and on my own, I would have to say da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Corot. The ones that all work in realism as a unifying style.

LJ: Corot? I have not heard of him.
ND: You’ll find it very interesting. Very realistic, very nice looking paintings.

LJ: Oh look at that, wow! He’s a French painter?
ND: I believe so, yes.

LJ: See! This is why I love these interviews. I always learn so much.
ND: That’s great!

LJ: With the Hopper analysis, I think you’re a little more colorful than Hopper though. Hopper was more muted.
ND: Yeah I guess in terms of composition and style I’ll borrow some influence from that. Other than that, I’m on my own with the colors. I don’t see any influences other than probably my influence from movies, my favorite of which are more visually driven science fiction fantasy type of movies. And all those amazing talents that are in that field, from the conceptual artists to the designers and physical effects people.

LJ: How do you personally keep a fresh perspective in terms of keeping ideas flowing, working through creative blocks?
ND: Fortunately, I personally never have any creative blocks. I’ve got enough projects planned to go as far into the future as I can see. I’m always ready to sketch or write an idea for a future project down on a piece of paper with a pen wherever I am. I make footnotes to myself for when I get back, to research certain subjects or plan the next painting based on something that I saw or heard about. So, I always have the next series planned so far ahead. I think one of my better aptitudes is that I am a planner and I have so much planned before the painting starts, that in my case, I’m playing catch up with producing the artwork. The projects are already planned far into the future and on a daily basis more are added.

LJ: So you have it in your head or you have a visual reference already. You’ve already done the work before you even start, is what you’re saying?
ND: Yes. The research is already done. Every painting I do is research and development for the next one.

LJ: When you’re in the midst of a painting though, do you ever get stuck? Or do you just don’t deal with that?
ND: There are times when I get stuck and have a problem rendering a certain section of a painting. It gets stale and what I do is utilize my process of working in a series. If I get stuck on a painting I’ll leave one, go to another one and then come back to that sticking point on the aforementioned painting with a new set of eyes and new skills that I got from another panting that I worked on. And that seems to get through the problem.

LJ: So you just need a lot of action and variety?
ND: Yes I think I probably get bored on certain paintings and because they are so detailed, it does get tedious and sometimes you just need to work on something different and not give up work altogether and get away from that painting that you may find to become boring or stuck on and go to the next project or go to the next painting in the series. Loosen up and get to the initial fill-in stages where you’re just putting your layers of paint on a white area and then come back when you’re ready to do a more surgical detailed session on one that’s further in development.

LJ: So, when you are working on a piece, do you ever struggle with the moment or the point when it’s called finished. How do you decide when something is done?
ND: Yes, I would say that’s the hardest part, is when you’re right on the cusp of finishing. There are no written rules and it’s not science on when a painting is done, for any of us. So, there’s a point where I’ll walk away from it before the final varnishing and come back to it, examine it, and there’s a point where you have to say ‘good enough is good enough.’ Because like any of us, you can go on forever. You can keep adding details and tweaking it and you’d never be finished. You just have to chuck your ego out the door and be realistic and maybe set a factional deadline in your head where “this has to be done and it’s due now.” So, in that case, working under a deadline is what makes you a better artist because if you have forever to do anything you’ll probably never get it done. There’s a point where you just have to say ‘good enough is good enough’, even though there’s no compromise in quality and you know you’ve got a good piece.

LJ: That’s really well said, because again, you’re the one that has to make the final decision. Somebody has to cut the cord and there’s always the next piece.
ND: Right. It’s a lot of self discipline. You have to have an entrepreneurial mind for this.

LJ: You know, I’m fascinated that you said that because, you probably know this from reading the other articles, is that I have a daughter in art school and I will undoubtedly attest that I think being an artist, studying art, producing a finished piece of work, on a deadline is some of the best training for business or for the workplace that a person can get. Because the artist not only has to conceive, but they have to create the work in their mind- imagine it - then they have to plan it and gather the materials and then they have to have the skills to actually produce it. Then they have to defend it, they have to sell it so they can do it again. What other area of study do you have to do that? There’s none. I think working in the arts and in arts education is some of the finest education you’ll ever get. And artists are underrated as business people.
ND: Ultimately, as an artist, you’re in the ultimate entrepreneurial career because you’re, as you said, doing it all: designing it all from a conceptual phase, and you’re planning and engineering, and then you’re creating it, you’re manufacturing and then you have to market it and think of ways just as creatively to get it seen and sold.

LJ: Right, so you have to have all those skills.
ND: And many artists don’t enjoy that. I do.

LJ: Most artists don’t. Most artists resent the business end of it. They view it as a necessary evil. But I guess there’s nothing like success to beget success. So if you are selling and you’re getting positive feedback and you’re building momentum for your work I guess that makes the business side of art less miserable.
ND: Yes absolutely. Like anything else success breeds success and when you see that what you’re doing is working and you know it’s working, you will do it. It is no longer a theory or a conceptual idea. It is reality. If I do this, I will get this result. And then you will apply that philosophy to everything else, in art and in life and you will see results

LJ: I am a true believer in visualizing the goal. Because if you don’t visualize what the end is going to look like… like almost like when you are saying you’re planning your painting. But even anything like if you want to get into a certain gallery, you almost have to mentally visualize yourself being there so that it becomes a natural thing to have happen and so that you’re not shy to talk to the gallery owner or the agent or whoever. It’s almost like a foregone conclusion in your mind so it’s easier to make things happen.
ND: Right! It’s a believe, conceive, achieve philosophy.

LJ: It’s like that in sports or business or anything else, and I believe it’s just as important in the arts. So that said, what does a typical day in your life look like? How do you organize yourself so you can accomplish all this?
ND: Well, I get up early. I try to do art related things between every day tasks, such as getting ready for work, and write an itinerary for myself as to what I plan to accomplish during the day. I’ll make phone calls on my breaks, I’ll research something after work and spend my free time moving forward on whatever ideas I jotted down throughout the day. I don’t relax well. I usually work from very early in the morning to late at night because it’s required to get what I have to get done finished. It just requires a certain amount of hours and we all have the same 24 hours in a day and sometimes we need more but, I try to squeeze everything I can out of that. And it requires a lot of self discipline when you’re alone. And like you said, you can’t just arbitrarily plan something and say ‘I’ll finish that whenever.’ It’s the same as exercise; you have to have concise goals in terms of mathematical absolutes. You need to know when you have to have this done, dates, times, hours, how much you’re going to allow yourself on a certain project and say ‘that’s it I need it done by this time.’

LJ: So how early is early? 5 am, 6 am?
ND: I’ll usually get up about 5.

LJ: Do you need a lot of sleep, or do you get your 8 hours?
ND: I never get my 8 hours. I need more than I get. And I exercise and that actually requires more sleep so I don’t get as much as I should, but when I sleep I sleep very soundly.

LJ: Good! So you’re like a power sleeper.
ND: Yeah it’s intense sleep to counteract my intense work day.

LJ: Yeah, you’ve mastered something that a lot of people work very hard at and that’s the element of focus, that laser beam focus, to not be distracted, to not be deterred. What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment so far in your field?
ND: I would say any of the art shows that I was able to get invited to participate in and go to is always as great a thrill as anything I could have hoped for and winning this contest was the pinnacle thus far.

LJ: Awesome! So how did you go about it? How did you go about winning it?
ND: American Frame is my frame company for my artwork and always has been. I had just inadvertently gone on to price some framing for some upcoming projects I had and saw the contest existed. I didn’t know until late February, with an intent to originally enter in March. I wasn’t ready because I had to reshoot some of the images and obviously that’s a skill itself, to be able to understand the technology and specifications needed for getting a good image through the camera, and making the right file and having the right size for that. So, as fate would have it, I’m glad, because April was just an even nicer month to enter and that’s how it came about. So, it happened very fast. I was able to reshoot the images, load up my gallery and from there, because of my skills and knowledge that I’ve had preparing to get exposure for artwork in general from my social media sites, and having a fair amount of technical knowledge on how to do things in terms of the loading up images and making connections and sending out links and having some amazing friends who know as much or more than I do, we were able to market it very well. And honestly on the flip side of what you said most artists are, I’ve found sitting at the easel for endless hours unpleasant, but I love the marketing part.

LJ: Are there any particular shows that you struggled to get into that good marketing helped you actually be chosen to participate in a show? Are there any things that you can share with your readers or other artists that might help them get into places that they want to get in to?
ND: I would say study the guidelines very carefully for what’s required for whatever show you’re entering. Make sure you have the right knowledge and information and you know what they want, you know that your files are technically accurate. If you don’t know yourself, find somebody that does. The information is out there. Do your research and put your best food forward because you only have one shot to make a first impression and if it means waiting another year to do it right, then do so.

LJ: Excellent advice! So Neal, how do you see your art evolving?
ND: I would say I’m looking for changes in style. I’ll try different subject matter, try looser styles, try different genres and I like to rotate. I’ll leave the very tight photorealism, go to a looser style with a different subject matter (like street scenes) and then come back to a very photorealistic still life or a wild life. So, I bounce around between different genres, because in my case, I was trained in photorealism. I will leave photorealism and go to a more painterly style, such as the winning painting and its series and then I get the hunger to go back and do more technical stuff after a while and vise versa, once I’m done with the next photo realistic style. Each time you paint, your skills sharpen and you become a better painter. So each series is something new and you’ll come to a new subject with a new set of skills and be a better painter than you were before. That’s the way I always keep it new. Every series, in a way, is always a first.

LJ: You said you actually started painting when you were 28, so you’ve been painting a long time? I guess I’m asking you how old you are.
ND: I’m 50 now so technically speaking, I don’t know comparatively if its been a long time or not, considering I was almost 30 and I never knew how to paint and figured ‘how hard could it be, it’s the same as drawing only with color’ and I was wrong because it took a little while to learn how to manipulate paint. No matter how easy any of the things are that any of these skilled people do, we’re all a beginner at first and we know nothing and it may look easy but it sure isn’t

LJ: That’s very true, we are all beginners at first and I personally get annoyed when you talk about any skill, whether it’s playing the piano, or painting or running or whatever and when I get an immediate reaction of ‘oh I cant do that!’ Well have you tried it? I mean it’s one thing if you choose to not do it but the word ‘can’t’ is something that I personally have a problem with because you’re right, we all can’t do something but then we take it on or maybe we have natural aptitudes for one thing over another but aptitude shouldn’t get in the way of interest. So even if something is difficult, if there is a will there’s always a way.
ND: Agreed. And anyone who is a creative person certainly can inspire other people to possibly make that leap from doing something to mastering it in a way they didn’t think they could ever do.

LJ: So what if you ‘can’t’ do it YET, that is if you want to do it? So what if I do a painting and it’s ugly, you know? There is always the next.
ND: At least try it and leave it knowing you gave it your best shot and go on and find the next thing you can do. There are many things I can’t do or have the aptitude to do but we will find what we’re good at and I think the key to finding that is doing what you love. If you really love something - if you can do it or not, you have to try – really try to find out.

LJ: That’s exactly right! When you’ve sold some work, how do you decide on pricing?
ND: Pricing is probably a very tricky and difficult thing for some people. For me, again, I take a more technical approach. I use guidelines in the industry from going to galleries and shows and I look at it as basically judged by the size of the piece and I stick within that genre and don’t think about how much time it took to make a certain piece. I keep it technical. I chuck my ego out the door. I think you have to keep your emotions out of it or you’ll never come up with a proper price. I objectively price my pieces in terms of the fine art by size. So there are only a few sizes I work in, I’ll know which price goes with which size piece in a series.

LJ: Do you work on canvas or do you work on board?
ND: Having trained myself for the film industry, in which they used to paint matte paintings on glass before they went to do it digitally, I knew I had to learn to render the illusion of three dimensions on a two dimensional surface, on a smooth surface. So having done that, my preference that I work on exclusively is a pre-gessoed, 1/8” masonite board, which has no tooth and is just ready to do with just the white primer.

LJ: What was the price of the last painting that you sold?
ND: I believe it was $400

LJ: Oh that’s great!
ND: Yeah

LJ: That’s a nice reward for something you love.
ND: Fortunately I live in a very art friendly community and it’s somewhat affluent and there is a good market for it. There are a lot of galleries, so in that case my environment allows me to do that, so obviously I understand it’s not the case, having seen first hand as you leave and go to other areas.

LJ: That’s the beauty of having a gallery online – a whole world of customers can be reached. Maybe order proofs of a couple of your works to make sure that the printing matches your vision for your work. We work from a fully calibrated system correct end to end. And then people who cannot afford a $400 piece can spend $150 and have a nice reproduction framed print on their wall and be able to still enjoy the art. That’s the beauty of being able to have this kind of gallery at your fingertips, because you reach a broader audience.
ND: Right, that’s the field that this contest in particular opened up and I’m really happy about that because it enables everybody to be able to afford your work and it brings your work into an affordable price range. My goal is to price things economically for people. I want them to have art that’s affordable. I’d love to have them get something for reasonable price and be able to sell quantities of a good image and the print market allows that. It democratizes everything and it gives you unlimited opportunities so it’s an amazing situation.

LJ: My mother was a painter and her view about this technology - of being able to photograph a painting and then print it was this: “Finally artists can enjoy the same advantages that photographers have enjoyed for years!” because the photographer works on an image and gets it to a point. Then once the files is complete it can be printed an infinite number of times. So until recently it was very difficult to get – recently meaning over the last 10 to 15 years (we’ve been doing the printing for a little over 10 years now) but in order to make it easy for artists to reproduce their work without having to print up 500 and sell it as an edition and have it sit on the shelves if nobody wanted it. So this ‘one off’ custom printing and framing is great for, like you said, democratizing your work and getting it into the hands of others who would enjoy it
ND: Right and it’s a very exciting situation, as I said, that’s where all peripherals from the stumbling upon this contest opportunity as I was looking for framing, its definitely opened up a new world and as I’ve told many of my friends, it’s a brilliant idea on American Frame’s part to have this. It’s a win-win for everybody. It gives the customer an affordable nice quality piece of art, it gives the artist a chance to make revenue from their image without selling their original on spot and it gives American Frame a chance to get their revenues from their end of the printing opportunities that they have set up.

LJ: Right, right. Really, the purpose of the art gallery is for the artist. Anybody can buy from us, as you know, but most of our customers are working artists and photographers that rely on us to make their living, so we wanted to give them a way to do that using technology on our site and that’s why we don’t take any commission off of your price. We then profit from the sale of the printed paper and the framing treatment. Absolutely a win-win. Any framing tips you’d like to share? What’s your favorite frame?
ND: Frames such as those that I bought from your company for my series, I keep it minimal and have a streamlined look and I usually use aluminum for my Masonite originals. I pick a dominant color that’s in the painting and have it just accent that painting and not as other people have wrote, don’t pick a frame for what’s in your couch in your living room or whatever. It should just be the final part of the painting and so I’m very happy with how these all look. The framing should be complimentary but not intrusive on the actual painting itself.

LJ: What’s your favorite collection?
ND: Because I’m so new to the game, I really like the Radius. I don’t see any reason to change. I love the hardware and the kits and how they attach. I frame everything myself.

LJ: They’re so easy aren’t they!?
ND: Yeah I love it. If you have a little bit of mechanical aptitude, and I have a little bit more than most, and it’s rewarding in and of itself that you can really bring it to completion and really do that yourself. It’s very economical and you get the items fast. And it’s win-win.

LJ: I have to tell you since you were in the Air Force, you have something in common with the founder of our company, who is my dad. He served in the Air Force in Korea.
ND: Oh wow! Amazing!

LJ: Yeah, in 1953-54-55 right around there. So it was an Air Force man who thought this all up. He was the first to sell custom picture frames via direct mail. So, we’re a family business going into our 42nd year. And we are expanding and putting in gallery space and meeting space for artists and trying to create a place where people can hold community events, all centered around art. So if you ever decide to take a drive through the Midwest I hope we’re on your agenda.
ND: Absolutely! And I had read about that gallery that you’re creating and it’s very exciting for both of us.

LJ: It really is! It’s something that hasn’t been done yet. So I’m sure others will try to follow suit but I think of what other companies might try to do and a lot of it isn’t profit generating, it’s just more community service.
ND: Right.

LJ: I think it’ll be a real different approach to have a fine art and frame gallery, so to speak. We’re trying to take it to the next level.
ND: And I’m sure I’ll keep aware of all your updates from your blog.

LJ: Thank you! One of the things we’re hoping to do very soon, Aubrey is in charge of social media and she teaches me everything I need to know and continue to bumble through on that, but I would like to form a LinkedIn group for all of our Featured Artists. So sort of a group that you all can connect with each other and I can stay connected with you and keep you ‘up-to-date’ on all kinds of things that are going on in our world over here. So when we get that set up we’ll let you know.
ND: That’s great! I don’t have profiles on LinkedIn yet, but for certainly that reason alone I will.

LJ: Great! Well this has been so nice to talk with you; it has been a pleasure to get to know you!
ND: Likewise!

LJ: Thank you and we will be working on this.
ND: That’s great!!

LJ: Thank you again Neal
ND: Thank you very much!

LJ: Have a good day
ND: You too, bye.

LJ: Bye.