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Meet Michael Gunn of Frame Monster Design Lab

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Gunn.

Michael, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Ever since I was in high school in South Texas, I’d been working with art and framing and frame design. My mother was the Regional Director for a national frame shop chain in the south, and she made sure I knew the industry.

I later moved to Los Angeles and worked as a program manager for many social service organizations including at Men’s Central Jail. It was there that I decided that I wanted to explore my more creative side, and I decided to go into the art and framing business full time. I’d worked at several gallery and framing spaces having developed a new set of design skills, an appreciation for LA Style and a celebrity clientele along the way. in 2012, I found our location in the old Bakery District of Los Angeles near the LA River, and we’ve been here ever since.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Opening a small creative business in Los Angeles requires patience and dedication. I told myself I’d put everything into our space to make it work for our customers and staff. I would treat my business as though I were restoring an old car. I would save what money I made and buy little pieces here and there. Fixtures one month, updated lighting a few months later, a paint job here and there and so on until we started updating our equipment. There were a couple of years of struggle, but eventually the shop maintained itself.

I’m always reading about Gentrification in the news and how people feel unwelcome when new shops open into smaller neighborhoods. I wanted to make sure that we were a positive impact in our community and that our presence contributed to the neighborhood. There’s something for everyone in our store. Whether someone is framing a small family photo or a fine art collector piece, we will treat each customer with the same respect. We love our neighborhood and we always state that part of being a good local business is community engagement. We are a part of our neighborhood and our neighbors know that.

Frame Monster Design Lab – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We are a custom frame shop and design lab. What that means is that we like to experiment with art in ways that you wouldn’t experience at big box framers. We have a huge selection of unique curated pieces from a variety of frame makers. We carry Italian, Canadian and other imported lines, Made in the USA and Made In LA, and other frames to fit a modest budget. We specialize in screen prints, Mondo prints and serigraphs. Although we frame all kinds of art, these are the pieces that clients trust us with the most. Our Instagram page is a look book of sorts so we always refer to clients to the account to get some ideas of our work.

We are fast! We offer our “Rabid Rabbet” rush service for clients who need something super quick. We are known by many galleries as the place to go if you need a huge order quickly.

What makes me post proud of our space is that people come from all over LA County because of our interaction on social media accounts, or word of mouth from other clients. We get an amazing collection of work from a variety of customers every week. It’s like a gallery walk from all parts of LA in one shop at any given time.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I think our success is measured in our interaction with our neighbors. I like to consider Frame Monster and our employees “Buena Gente,” a part of the good people that make up our neighborhood. We’ve been invited to weddings, celebrations, even funerals for our departed who live in our area. Local kids have even asked on occasion to help with a homework project, which we have gladly done. We sponsor local school auctions, fundraisers for Non-Profits in our area, and we donate so much art and frames in partnership with our artist clientele who are trying to raise money for a worthy cause. We strive to be a model business, we support our community and our community supports us. I can’t think of a better way to measure the success of our business.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Group Photo Credit: Art Meza/Chicano Soul

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