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Meet Boris Smorodinsky and Marina Smorodinsky of Striving Artists Framing and Art Services

Today we’d like to introduce you to Boris Smorodinsky and Marina Smorodinsky.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
“Outstanding!” I say this to every “How are you?” greeting. Why? Because it is a conversation starter, it reflects how I feel about my company, and how I hope my customers feel when they get their framed pieces.

The journey to Striving Artists took many zigzags. My wife, Marina, and I immigrated to the United States from a country where we experienced discrimination and limited opportunities for ourselves and our kids. Coming to the US with a few suitcases and not much to our name was both scary and exciting. Our first jobs were in small businesses, where we witnessed first-hand what it takes. Soon enough, we got the entrepreneurial bug ourselves.

Starting our very first company, a graphic design firm, was both scary and exciting. Then, we did something truly insane; we launched something that never before existed in Los Angeles: The Erotic Museum of Hollywood. It was a passion project, a creative spark. It did not last for many reasons, but it taught us a lot of lessons and recently was even discussed in an academic book examining the topic of such museums.

Acquiring Striving Artists in 2006, was a homecoming for us. The company has been in Chatsworth since 1978; Marina and I are its second mom-and-pop owners. We finally found our creative home, where we are very proud to work with a wide variety of clients, which includes artists, photographers, interior designers, and private individuals. We are active in Chatsworth Chamber of Commerce and Chatsworth Fine Art Council.

Striving Artists is a member of the Professional Picture Framers Association. Risking sounding like a cliche, I’ll say it anyway − for us, it is all about personal touch, and we always strive for the outstanding.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A mom-and-pop shop never has a smooth road. Our major challenge hit in 2008, with the Great Recession. Custom framing and art services often rely on good economy and existence of disposable income.

When individuals and artists tightened their belts and hotels stopped renovating, we had to tighten our belt as well. It was a tough time for our industry, many shops closed their doors. Fortunately, Striving Artists survived, primarily thanks to our high-quality workmanship and our loyal customers.

Please tell us about Striving Artists Framing and Art Services (or just Striving Artists).
Our slogan says it all: “We Frame Anything that Can’t Walk Away!®.” We are an award-winning custom framing shop and art services provider. Our state-of-the-art facility offers thousands of frame moldings, endless design options, and large-format printing on multiple media.

Our team has diverse backgrounds in art, design, engineering, and photography. We also do photo restoration. We are renowned for our custom shadow boxes. Shadowbox design, mounting, and finishing process is complicated and time-consuming, so we developed many specialty designs and built techniques ourselves.

Each custom shadow box has its own unique features that meet the specific needs of our customers and their memorabilia. We routinely participate in industry competitions and bring home prestigious awards.

We are particularly proud to have beaten nearly 100 companies from around the world this year to receive a Best in Show award for “Digital Creativity” and “Gold” for Fine Art Printing from the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
It was the very first time I (Boris) saw a photograph being developed. I was six or seven years old. We lived in a tenement apartment with a communal bathroom, so we could not use it as a dark room. We had no access to any other facility, either, so we had to wait until after dark to do any photo processing using improvised means.

My dad rigged a small developing setup in the bedroom, and my mom allowed me to stay up till midnight. After ten at night, with everything ready, my dad dipped a blank piece of paper into what looked like water and all of a sudden, I saw an image I recognized come up. I’ve been obsessed with photography ever since.

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