What a pleasure it was to interview Dave Plank, winner of our November 2014 Featured Artist Contest. He is the only artist thus far that I’ve met prior to this occasion. We’ve been handling the printing and framing for Dave for several years now, and last summer, he, his wife and their puppy paid us a visit at our Showroom. Everyone at American Frame loves Dave. He is serious about his art and takes a very thoughtful and intellectual approach to his subjects and his craft. Passionate about animals, pets in particular, he conversed with me at length. We talked about how he decided to start his business PremierPetPortraits.com, the challenges of being a self supporting artist, how he thinks about his subjects, and then ends with some constructive feedback on our website, which I always appreciate.
Laura Jajko (LJ): Hi Dave, it’s Laura Jajko at American Frame.
David Plank (DP): Hi Laura
LJ: How are you?
DP: I’m fine thanks.
LJ: Is this still a good time for you to do a featured artist interview with me today?
DP: Sure is
LJ: Good! I’m going to try to navigate this all by myself. I don’t know if you’ve had the opportunity to interact with Aubrey at all, but she’s my Marketing and Social Media Assistant. You’ll appreciate this, her puppy was injured so she’s at the vet today and had to miss the interview.
DP: Awww. Well I’m sorry to hear that.
LJ: She got hit by a car, but she is going to be just fine.
DP: Oh good!
LJ: So Dave, I was so happy when you won our contest a few months ago!
DP: I was happy to do that too. I was close the month before and I think I won in November or December and I remember thinking if I don’t win now I’m not going to try anymore because I was taking people to the threshold, but I did win and I was happy for it.
LJ: Well you know, people love animals and even thought I know you’re in the business of painting other peoples pets, you must fall in love with these pets too, through your art.
Yeah it’s hard to analyze. It’s hard to describe but when you see something that moves you emotionally, to me, that’s what real art is.
- David Plank
LJ: You connect that way. Did Aubrey send you the list of questions?
DP: Yes she did.
LJ: Good! After our conversation, we will build out an extra landing page for you on our website, which will give you a stronger presence, both on our site and in Google.
DP: Yeah, I looked at some of the other interviews and I saw the one you did with Cynthia. I admire her work.
LJ: Oh! Isn’t she just awesome?
DP: She’s a very accomplished artist with the 3D programs.
LJ: Dave, can you tell me again where you’re located?
DP: In Murrysville, PA. This is in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh.
LJ: And can you remind me; how long did it take you drive here when you visited last year? I remember it was quite a hike. You were going up to Michigan with your family.
DP: Yes, my brother lives near Detroit. And it was just a little bit out of the way to stop at your shop and I’m so glad we did. It was so nice to meet you and see the facilities and it was well worth while for us to do that.
LJ: Well it’s going to be a totally new world the next time you come through. I’m not sure if I had explained, I think I shared last year kind of what our vision was for the Showroom. We’re expanding and moving our offices.
LJ: Our office move is finally going to happen in a couple of weeks. And then the construction on the new Showroom can start. Once it’s done we’ll be able to host art events and exhibits, conduct seminars and all kinds of art related community events. So hopefully you can come back through.
DP: We’re not going up this year, but hopefully yes, we could stop by again and see the new facilities.
LJ: Okay, so tell me, when did you start producing your art?
DP: Well I’ve been involved with graphics and visual arts for a very long time but it was about 4 years ago that I started to do wildlife art and paintings. Then three years ago I started the Premier Pets Portraits and I have a website and I guess you know I take photographs and people submit them to me and then I create a portrait from that.
LJ: And I take it that’s going really well for you?
DP: I wish it would be going better. To me, there’s a lot of competition in this area. I have an Etsy presence and I go to craft shows and things like that, but there does seem to be quite a bit of competition. A lot of people really like what I do and they say ‘oh I’m going to have to do that with my pet’ when I’m at the show. But then they get home and they lose the card or forget about it and it doesn’t have the immediate response when you’re selling something directly. I rely on them to do a little work to send me the photo.
LJ: That’s right, when somebody has to do something that’s always harder.
DP: But I enjoy it. I’m hoping business picks up a little bit. I have some ideas for a promotion. I was going to go to a rescue place; you know pet rescue facility and offer to do a portrait for somebody who has adopted pets.
LJ: Oh, how nice!
DP: Yeah, so I was thinking of some things like that to help promote me and help promote animals that need a home.
LJ: Some good will. So what was your training in? You said you have worked in graphics and visual arts. Did you study that in school? Did you start that as a kid?
DP: I was always interested in art, but I like science too. I wasn’t good enough to be an engineer I didn’t think but I tried to combine those (the science with the art). I went to school for Industrial Design and I do have a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design. So, that was the beginning of my career. Throughout my working experience in graphics, I worked as an industrial illustrator doing isometrics. I worked at an advertising agency for a while and worked in a corporation and as a supervisor for about 13 artists. And then I started my own graphics business in 2007, just before the recession hit and it just crushed me.
LJ: That was just a horrible time for anyone associated with the arts. Well actually anybody, but I think it was worse for those of us in the arts. I had a supplier tell me once that when recessions hit, the arts are the first ones in and the last ones out.
DP: I really don’t think the economy is recovered. I think my business; I think a lot of business would be better with a better economy. I think a lot of people are leery of spending and still you know there’s unemployment and people who just quit looking for jobs. I think if the economy was better, people would have better experience, you know in their own personal business and things like that.
LJ: I agree with you. I think that this recession really changed people’s behaviors. We are all just a little bit insecure, even though things have improved.
DP: I believe that, yes.
LJ: We’re just a little more careful with what we do and how we do it, and in my view, we’ve adopted a new way of being. It’s challenging for artists, but at the same time, you have this whole growth in home décor. Our homes are more important than ever before and we have an opportunity to tap into that interest and kind of the nesting. You have definitely a skill and you definitely have a following. You won the contest and that’s not easy. I’d say that for a three year old business that’s pretty amazing. I think you should feel really good about it.
DP: I do, I guess you always have high expectations and always hoping that things will improve.
LJ: And I think those of us in business too have to look at it as more of a marathon than a sprint. You know, we read about overnight success stories or these big things happening to small ‘out-of-the-blue’ enterprises and it’s important to remember that these are truly exceptions. Building a business simply takes a lot of time.
DP: I hadn’t thought about that but you are right.
LJ: So let’s talk about your education. You went into design and not art so I assume you didn’t have to rebel to do what you wanted to do with your art.
DP: I didn’t follow you there.
LJ: The question is, was your family supportive or did you have to rebel to become an artist?
DP: Oh, okay. Actually I had done a portrait of our dog and my wife liked it so much she said ‘you should do that for other people’ and that was really the impetus to start the Premier Pet Portaits business. I blame it all on my wife! –laughs-
LJ: Isn’t it nice to have someone to blame? -laughs-
DP: No, she’s very supportive. She goes with me to the shows and helps me set up. She’s able to talk to prospective customers and tell them about my work. I’m very happy to have her as a partner.
LJ: It sounds like she’s a good sales person for you.
DP: Oh she is, she is.
LJ: So, the next question is whether you’re a degreed artist, but you’re actually a degreed designer.
LJ: And you work with Photoshop, you paint in Photoshop correct?
DP: Yes. I really like it because it allows me to take a very cerebral and technical approach to painting. And by that I mean there are tools; there are sectors and layers and masks and things within the program that you have to have an understanding to use them, and I like that aspect of it. The other thing I like about Photoshop is you can’t make a mistake because if you do something and you don’t like it you can just edit it out. You just do ‘undo’ and you’re back to where you were. I was always more timid in working with actual painting and drawing and things like that because if you make a mistake there, you start over.
LJ: Right, you start over or you paint over…
DP: Yeah it’s a little bit more difficult. Plus if you don’t like the color in Photoshop, you have eminent control. You can dial in shades, and plus you don’t have to visualize it so much. Really, Photoshop makes it much easier because you can take and make a background and change the colors at will, where as if you’re painting, you can’t do that. You have to have it in your mind before you commit it to the canvas.
LJ: That’s true.
DP: Whereas in Photoshop there’s ‘preview’. So you can try different things and experiment more.
LJ: Isn’t that interesting. So, what kind of space do you work in? Have you taken over your home, do you have a separate studio, where do you work?
DP: I just refinished a bedroom in our home and I have a large desk and an iMac and another monitor. It’s a very comfortable space for me; I spend a lot of time here. It’s not the most organized area but it works for me and I’m happy to be in this area and doing my work.
LJ: Did you paint your walls a color that’s really neutral so you’re working in a color correct environment?
DP: It drives my wife crazy because I always have the shades pulled in the room and I do that because I don’t want sunlight to enter and change the way something looks during the day vs. at night. Plus I have daylight light bulbs in the overhead lights so that the lighting stays the same whether it’s at the day or at night and the daylight lights are a cooler temperature than the incandescent. My wife says those lights are really strange, but I believe it’s imperative that you standardize your viewing if you’re working on a computer so that there is no color shift.
LJ: Do you work from a calibrated system? For example, when you send us your pieces for printing, have you already calibrated and soft proofed and all that kind of work before you send it over?
DP: Yeah the Macintosh has color calibration at the system level. It’s called ColorSync. And you could do it just by eye. They have those screens where they tell you to see if there’s a square when it looks like it’s part of the background and you make adjustments to the monitor. So it’s not as perfect if you were to put one of those cups on and it reads the colors from the monitor itself. But it works for me and then I use the ICC profile that I had asked for from American Frame. I had some test prints made when I began doing the art projects and I’m fairly confident that when I send something to print, that when you send it back to me, the color matches what I see on screen.
LJ: Good! It sounds like you’ve approached this in very controlled, scientific manner which sounds like it’s very consistent from where you came from and how you approach your work. So are you a full time artist now?
DP: Yes, like I said I do graphic work and then I do the pet portraits and other wildlife artwork.
LJ: Commercial work?
DP: Yes, commercial and the arts with the portraits.
LJ: I know that you generally work from pictures but do you ever photograph a pet for a client?
DP: Yes, I’ve done that on a number of occasions. It’s always been an issue in the way I work where I ask the client to give me a photograph because some of them will use an old cell phone or some of them will have a digital camera that they’re not real familiar with, so I get pictures that are low quality, low resolution and highly compressed. Sometimes people at shows will say “Gee, I don’t have a camera” so I offer to take pictures for them. It just makes it easier for me. Whatever time I spend traveling and taking the picture is made up when I go on the computer. I’m able to much more quickly create the portrait than if I were given a low res file.
LJ: I would think too that it would give you the chance to get to know the pet. That kind of may help too, if you know the animal.
DP: Yes I always try to make the picture so that when the person sees the portrait they have the same reaction as when they see their pet.
LJ: Ahhh gotcha. Okay! That’s interesting!
DP: And I always ask the client what they think and invariably they tell me things that help me to capture the character of the pet. It’s just subtle little things like the uniformity of color or texture of the fur that might not show up completely in a photograph. The clients are really a big part of my being able to create a portrait that captures the pet’s character.
LJ: So in this age of digital photography, we put thousands of pictures on our phones and carry it with us at all times. When you’re talking to people who are thinking having a portrait made, how do you sell the concept? What do you tell them that they can receive that’s going to be that different than a picture that they take?
DP: Well, what I tell everyone is that they don’t pay anything for me to do a portrait and send them a proof. Anybody can email me a picture and I’ll create the portrait and I’ll send them a proof. They don’t pay for it. If they like what I do, then they can make the purchase. So it’s a satisfaction guaranteed. I know a lot of people that do commissions. They want a certain money upfront like half the cost at the beginning and half when they’re done. I don’t do that. If you send me a picture and you don’t like the proof you just say ‘thank you, I don’t want to go any further’, and that’s fine with me.
LJ: Has that ever happened?
DP: One time. Most of the time, when I do create a portrait, people DO like it and then they continue and make the purchase. Since I take orders on my website, I want to make it easy for my customers. I didn’t want someone to pay for the portrait and then they didn’t like what I did, and I’ll have to say “well, I’ll refund your money”. That seems too awkward. So the way I do it, and the way I think it should be done, is I don’t take any money until you like what I do. And I work, some people make changes, and to others I’ve had to say: ‘this is the best I could do with this picture.’ So then they’ll send me a second photo with improved resolution and therefore I can do a better portrait. I can spend an indeterminate amount of time doing the work because it’s all to the clients satisfaction.
LJ: So do you give them a paper proof or a digital proof?
DP: A digital proof.
LJ: And when you finally create something that they’re excited about, do you sell them the finished product and they can reorder as much as they want? And then does the final piece always go in your gallery?
DP: I have what I called ‘My Best Friend’ series. I was doing portraits of the most popular dog breeds. I had those printed and I had that for sale thinking that if somebody had a German Shepard or a Terrier, that they like the dog so much that they’d want to purchase the print. But I found out doing that, once they saw that I do custom portraits that I could do a portrait of THEIR dog. They didn’t want those breed independent, or you know, just pictures of a certain breed. They wanted their dog, not just any dog. So I discontinued that now and I just do the custom portraits. There are some that I like more than others and I put those in my gallery and I feature them on Facebook, so not all of them go into the gallery.
LJ: Are there other people that work in your genre that have influenced you or you just kind of work on your own?
DP: Well, I’ve always had an interest in art. There are some artists who I greatly admire, Ned Smith is one. He was a painter from PA who did really beautiful drawings of deer and birds and things like that. He worked for the PA Game Commission, in fact, he had the first PA duck stamp and I bought a print of that just because I admired his work so much and thought it was so nice. There is also an artist by the name of Edward Bierly, he had done a cover for National Wildlife Magazine years ago and it was two deer in a snow storm called “Winter Woods.” And when I saw that image, it wasn’t like I was a spectator, I felt like I was there. It was almost like I could feel the cold and see the snowflakes falling and I just I was waiting for the deer to move past me. It was a feeling that I got that I was actually there and I enjoyed that so much that I got a print of that and had that framed. And that’s been my goal with the art that I do. I want people to get a feeling from it and I’m not by any means as good as some of the masters but a lot of people have expressed appreciation for my work and I very much enjoy hearing that. Then there’s David Maass and Robert Bertram, wildlife artists that I enjoy and they inspire me in what I do.
LJ: It’s always so interesting to hear who touches your soul, like what you’re describing and why. And as an artist you almost can’t help but have that flow into your work.
DP: Yeah it’s hard to analyze. It’s hard to describe but when you see something that moves you emotionally, to me, that’s what real art is.
LJ: Yes, absolutely. So do you ever have to deal with creative blocks? Like when you’re working on a portrait are there times when it just isn’t happening or do you feel that between the pictures and the stories of pets and your connection to animals kind of keep you going?
DP: Well I can’t say I have creative blocks. Maybe it’s because of my background with industrial design but for me the creative process is like problem solving. So it comes down to what color would express the mood that I want to convey or how do I lay out the image to show the details and when you break down the work into the specific details like that, it makes it more manageable. I’m not thinking ‘oh I want to create a masterpiece.’ I’m just thinking about how I can do this one thing that will make the art visually compelling and that’s how I approach it.
LJ: And do you ever struggle with when you call a piece ‘finished’?
DP: Well, after I finish the portrait I’ll wait a day and then I won’t send it to the client as soon as I’m done. I’ll wait a day and then I’ll go back and I’ll look at it. When I do that, I’m able to see things that I hadn’t seen before. You know, maybe I was focused on the eyes. I always try to clarify that and take out reflections and make the eyes the focal point of the portrait. And sometimes when I do that, I’ll miss something in another side of the picture that I didn’t see because I was focused on one area. So I’ll wait a day and then come back and look at it and when I get to the point where there’s nothing else I want to change, I send it to the client.
LJ: That’s a really interesting approach.
DP: You get so involved with things when you’re working on them that sometimes you have to step back and look at them with a fresh eye and you see things that you didn’t see before.
LJ: So what does a typical day in your life look like? Do you spend 12 hour days in the studio? Do you spend time outside? What is your typical day?
DP: Well, I do have a dog and she’s very active so I walk her for about an hour in the woods by my house every day. Sitting down at the computer like I do, for hours, you kind of get tensed up and it kind of makes you feel anxious. I don’t know how to describe it. But I find that if I exercise, when I come back, I’m more able to do the work and be involved and because I’ve had the exercise it seems to relax your muscles or make you, you know it just makes you feel good to sit down and work.
LJ: I’m with you! I’m a morning exerciser too. I have to be able to get the energy out to feel good and more centered.
DP: I think just sitting for a long time you build up toxins in the body. It’s a very sedentary life, so I have to stir things up a little bit and I do that when I walk the dog. I walk her twice a day.
DP: Yeah, I start off in the morning and then I walk her at dinner time, before dinner and then I’ll go back to work in the evening some too.
LJ: Even through this horrible winter? Every day, twice a day?
DP: Yeah I’ve never not walked the dog because of the winter.
DP: Now when it was like minus 8 I didn’t walk as far. But it was for her benefit, not mine because I had 3 coats and 2 hats and gloves and I was insulated from the cold and she only has one coat so, yeah. I have a rain suit I wear when it’s raining and we go every day. The weather does not keep us back.
LJ: Does your wife join you?
DP: No just me and the dog.
LJ: Your solitary time?
DP: -laughs- yeah. It’s a time that I can let my mind wander. I get some ideas sometimes on how to do things when I’m walking like that because it’s kind of refreshing and it can be a source of inspiration for me.
LJ: I’m sure, especially if you’re walking in the woods and it’s a beautiful landscape. So Dave, what would you say your biggest accomplishment in your field is so far?
DP: Well, I don’t think I’ve achieved what I want at this point. As far as accomplishments, when people express their gratitude for the work that I’ve done, that means a lot to me and that propels me to keep working. That’s the impetus for me to keep doing the portraits and keep getting better, keep trying to make people happy with what I do. I don’t think that I could look at the body of work that I have and say ‘oh I’m really proud of this’ because I haven’t been doing it for that long. I don’t know, maybe I’ve set my goals a bit lofty.
LJ: Well it’s important to have high goals. People don’t accomplish anything without setting high expectations. I personally think it’s a huge accomplishment to be able to work in your field independently and make it work for you and your family. And you have created a beautiful business model. Really, looking at these portraits, they’re inviting and comforting. It’s like when you said earlier about trying to create a portrait that affects the owner as if they are looking at the pet itself. Most of us outlive our pets so, that’s meaningful because the pet is generally part of the family.
DP: Right and that’s a large pat of my work is that people who have had a pet who is no longer with them and they’ll give me a picture and sometimes it’s quite a challenge. There’s no way they can get a better picture so I have to take what they give me and sometimes that is a real challenge because sometimes I’ve had pictures where the dog has been ill and you can see it in the eyes, there’s almost a sadness there and I have to take that out but yet make the dog look the same. So, there again I rely on the client to tell me, what do they see in my portrait and does it look like the dog that they know and love
LJ: So do you study breeds?
DP: I’ve done that some because I’ve done a number of portraits, I always ask the client what kind of dog is that? Sometimes I don’t get the mix like the Labradoodle or something like that. I did a Saint Bernard and I made the fur real long because when I was a child there was someone in the neighborhood who had a Saint Bernard and I remember the really big dog and this long fur and that’s how I painted it and the client said ‘no, no this is a short haired Saint Bernard’ and I didn’t know there was such a thing. I had to go back and shorten the fur.
LJ: How do you see your art evolving? You’ve said several times that you’re just starting and you’re still at the beginning stages. How would you like to grow as an artist?
DP: Well, that’s kind of a tough question. There are times when I do something and for some reason I can’t even tell you why, I just don’t like it. And then what I do is I go back and completely start over. I discard everything that I have, and just begin over. I’ve found that in doing that, although it’s difficult to do, I found that it forces you to look at things differently and it really helps you develop because you’re able to see different aspects of your work. If you challenge yourself like that, a lot of times you’ll come up with something much better, and that’s one of the ways my work evolves. I constantly try to say ‘Well how can I make this fur look curly?’ or ‘How can I add a color into the eyes to make it look like they’re looking at you rather than looking down?’, or something like that.
LJ: Shifting the perspective.
DP: You know fine techniques or to do things that make the art better than what it was.
LJ: Would you ever do people?
DP: People have asked me that but I’ve always declined because with the dogs I have brushes that simulate the fur and I have a technique where I knockout the background and outline the fur so I’m able to work with the brushes that I have, and it’s kind of a process that I go through. With people I couldn’t use those techniques, plus if the dog is a little bit off in terms of its appearance, people will still accept it. But if you make a mistake where you don’t capture a person’s face, then that’s a problem.
LJ: Ahh gotcha.
DP: You have to be more exact with portraits and I enjoy doing the pets and that’s why I do those and I have a process that’s been working for me. I know the layers I’m going to create. I know all the aspects of what I’m going to do. I’d have to start over with portraits.
LJ: It doesn’t sound like you’re interested. It sounds like maybe you like animals more?
DP: Yeah, yeah I do.
LJ: : I have a friend who's a very accomplished portrait artist, she does these huge drawings and oil paintings of people and I asked her one day, this was years ago, her name is Leslie Adams. Years ago, I asked her, “If you weren’t doing portraits what would you paint?” and she says “I’d paint people”. She looks at the difference between a ‘portrait’ and a ‘person’ because a person can be just anybody, but a portrait has to be exact. You think along those same lines. So, let me ask you, how do you decide what price to charge for your art, or are you still experimenting with all that?
DP: Well, I base my prices on what I think my work is worth and how it compares with other artists. I try to set the prices that are of fair value to the clients and of fair compensation for me. I can’t tell you that when I started out I didn’t want price to be a stumbling block so I had the prices at the lowest I could go. You have to have some compensation for your work.
LJ: Oh, absolutely! I think the mistake most artists make is they undervalue their work.
DP: So, I increased my prices beginning this year and I think that’s going to work out better because I’m thinking about offering sales, like when I go to a show, ‘here’s a coupon code, when you put that in you’ll get a discount’ and I wasn’t able to do that before. The other thing that has really helped me is when I won the Featured Artist Contest, to get the discount on the work that I send to you.
LJ: That’s a big discount. 20% is amazing.
DP: Yeah, that’s really helped me in getting some compensation for the time that I spend on the work that I do.
LJ: What do you typically charge for a framed portrait?
DP: Well I have standard fees for my work and the way I have it priced is paper prints, I have two sizes: 8 x 10 and 11 x 14 and I do that because they’re the standard frame sizes so if people want a small portrait from me, so if people want a paper print and they’ll get it framed that’s $50 and an 11x 14 paper print is $60. And then those are the least expensive items I offer. The most expensive are an 8 x 10 framed canvas print; I love the printing on the canvas with the UV coating.
LJ: Yes, it’s nice isn’t it?
DP: Yeah because when I do the portraits the last thing I do is I apply a filter in Photoshop and it simulates an oil painting. It’s an effect. I can control the length of the brush stroke, I can control the blending of the colors, and I can control the angle the brushstrokes are made to. It really is a nice effect. It blends what was photographic and what I painted on with my stylus. But anyway, when you put that on a canvas it really makes it like a formal portrait. I really like it and I think people do too and then I’ve standardized on a frame from you it’s the shabby chic, I think its 12404. It’s a neutral color and but its got some highlights in it, and it fits around a canvas. Whatever I do I always use that frame.
LJ: So is it the whitish one?
DP: No it’s the brown one.
LJ: I know which one you’re talking about now.
DP: Yeah it has a nice contour to it. And it’s deep enough to accommodate the canvas stretcher. I sell paper prints framed in that too. But if someone says ‘oh I have a modern décor and I want a different frame,’ I create the proof and when they approve it, I send it to you as part of my gallery. And then they go on to your site and find the painting and then they can order whatever they want.
LJ: Oh that’s nice!
DP: Yeah. And all I do is I add the commission that I would normally get if I sold the framed painting, I add that on there so they get whatever they want and I get my commission.
LJ: So an 8 x 10, a custom pet portrait for $50. That’s very economical.
DP: Yes, that’s one of the ways that I compete. There’s one other thing that I’d like to point out and that’s on my 8 x 10 framed canvas print is what I do is I add a border on the outside and I make it look like a mat board. In Photoshop I take that and I add an effect and it makes it like a bevel, so it has light and dark areas that look raised or indented and then I do like a half inch on the outside and then I do like a tenth or a hundredth of an inch inside that to simulate a double mat and then I just have it framed.
LJ: Isn’t that interesting?
DP: Yeah, and with Photoshop they have textures, so I add the canvas texture to those borders and it really sets off the picture, but I don’t have to incur the cost of having mats put on there.
LJ: : Well you don’t want to mat a canvas anway.
DP: Well, right, but it sets it off nicely.
LJ: Yeah exactly. Like without a liner. You can eliminate a liner that way.
LJ: So what is your most expensive piece, like if you do, do you do large canvas?
DP: The 11 x 14 framed canvas print is $145.
LJ: That’s still very economical.
DP: Yes, and like I said I did a painting for a lady, she had three German Shepherds, and it was oversize for you to print, but she wanted something really large to behind her couch so I actually had her on the phone as I helped her go through your site. She had the picture there and I was telling her ‘well here’s the canvas, select that’ and so she made the order on your site. So, whatever the people want I will try to accommodate them.
LJ: Do you find your customers can navigate our site okay?
DP: That was the only one I had worked with on your site. Since you asked, I’ll give you some feedback. One of the things that I thought would be better would be don’t default to a frame or a mat because whenever I go to visit your site and you’re placing an order and you’re working with that sometimes, it’ll add a frame and sometimes all you want is a paper print so you have to go and take that off.
LJ: Yes that’s true in the printing area. If you’re just buying frames only, we have that ProQuickshop™ interface that doesn’t have any defaults. That’s a design decision that we made a couple of years ago because we had so many complaints from customers that just didn’t understand certain frame components like plexi or backing board were missing from their order, so we designed interfaces that worked both ways. One, where you’re starting with a complete frame kit and then customizing components from there, or via the ProQuickshop™ link, the customer starts from nothing and builds the frame kit from scratch. But you’re right, from the printing we don’t offer that option, it just goes into a default mode.
DP: Yeah I think you might be better off if instead of defaulting to a black frame if you just, in computer programming you can have something called null. It’s not like zero, it’s just there’s nothing there so if you had that in your ordering set up then it wouldn’t add a frame or it wouldn’t add dry mounting to a print, you’d just have a button that if you wanted that you would click on that to add it. But I’ve just found that it was cumbersome because I’m always having to take off these things that I don’t want.
LJ: But in the canvas, it should only offer the options that are applicable. But I hear what you’re saying if you’re ordering a print only. I hear you. Thank you for that feedback. I appreciate that.
DP: Yeah I don’t know what the solution is, I’m just very afraid that sometime I’ll order something and because I didn’t deselect it that I won’t get what I want. But if everything was something I added, like if I wanted dry mount I could just add that and that’s on me. But if it adds it by itself then I have to be careful and it seems like it could be done a little bit better, I don’t know how but…
LJ: No, I always appreciate feedback because the customer uses the site and looks at it in a way that sometimes we don’t understand, so I appreciate that. Well thank you Dave, this has really been a pleasure.
DP: Well thank you! I enjoyed talking to you!
LJ: Likewise! I hope things continue to go your way and I wish you the best of luck. I appreciate you being involved with our company and using us as your supplier. Hopefully next time you come through you can visit us again.
DP: It’s going to be on my list of destinations.
DP: I’m anxious to see the new Showroom and I guess I sent you a link when we were visiting there that I put on my Facebook page, the picture of my wife and our dog they were by your sign.
LJ: Yes, yes I remember seeing that! I will send you a copy of the rendering of the new space. I think you’ll get a kick out of it.
DP: Okay, yeah, I did see it on the blog.
LJ: Okay! Then that’s what that is. It’s going to be gorgeous.
DP: I’m sure it will be!
LJ: Well thank you again Dave. Talk to you soon!
DP: You too