Custom Framing in Bismarck

Apr 13, 2021

Not only is Cardens a great place to get your custom framing in Bismarck, they also offer so much more. When I mentioned to David about doing this interview, he and Alicia were more than excited to have me come into their shop and ask some questions about what they offer. Did you know that David is also a photographer and Alicia is an artist! I love that they’ve gotten involved with the local art community and have local artist work displayed there. It’s really a great place to stop by, check out some local artwork, and have a nice chat with David and Alicia. We did this as a video interview, so if you’d prefer to watch David and Alicia give their answers scroll down to watch the video.

Tell us a little about Carden Custom Framing in Bismarck?

Carden Custom framing has been around Bismarck Mandan for over 3 decades now. Alicia and I are actually celebrating our Thirty FIRST year in business, which is kind of a little pun for us because though it’s been thirty years in Bismarck Mandan, it’s our first year in business taking this over from my aunt and uncle, Dennis and Carla Leingang. We’ve been in this same building, pretty much same location on the corner of front and third, with a great window view of downtown Bismarck

What made you decide to get into the Custom Framing industry?

I’m not originally from Bismarck Mandan, I kind of grew up all over the US, so to be here in one of best places I’ve ever lived and to have the opportunity to take over a family owned business never seemed like a possibility. When my uncle unfortunately passed away, after a while of running the business on her own, my aunt was ready to sell the business, or just possibly closing it and there no longer being a custom frame shop in town, which kind of hit me in a soft spot. I then asked Alicia if she was ready to have a potentially life changing conversation, and we went from there. Bought the business in October of 2019.

And then I dragged Alicia down to a Framers Conference in January where she took some classes and swayed her to want to jump into the business and the growing art community.

What type of glass and acrylic protection do you offer?

We have a lot of different options when it comes to glazing protection, we mostly preferer and work with glass and have one primary thickness that we work with, though we have many vendors and local business that can help us find the right protection for what we’re framing. Acrylic we really don’t suggest a whole bunch because its expensive and it scratches pretty easily, but the best thing about acrylic is it doesn’t shatter like glass.

Either way the glass we have and the way we frame it is strong and protects the piece.

And we do offer 5 kinds of glass from 50 % uv rated to 99% uv rated between clear and reflection control.

Do you offer any archival matting and framing options?

It’s been a really fun journey when it comes to that in the last year. After we came back from the Framers Conference and learning a lot about framing in general but so much about conservation mounting, preservation with all items. Almost all of our matboards are acid-free which is a very big part of our industry and in preserving what we are framing.

If you ever get to walk down grandmas hallway and see the awesome family portrait with the matting and the bevel you’d notice the bevel against the image is orange or brown when it used to be white. A lot of mats have a white core, but what happens is the lignin inside the mat begin to burn or off-gas overtime if there isn’t the right protection in the frame-up. 

So what we offer helps with that. Our matts are acid free or conservation quality which not only helps that white bevel but protects the piece we’re framing from having any unnecessary fading or burning from the matboards.

I see you have local artists work featured and available for purchase, tell us a little about that.

We have a lot of local artist that we carry their work here is an example of one that we recently started carrying. We have several of his pieces here along with tougher north Dakota natives from all over the state.

It’s really exciting having Alicia’s foot in this door really got us in the door of the art community which is something we really wanted to get engrained with but we work very closely with our local galleries and other amazing artists like Todd Clausnitzer, Paul Noot, Butch Thunderhawk as you see here.

We get to see these folks grace our doorstep to share new pieces or even customers of those artists who bring in pieces to frame is some of the most exciting work we get to do. One thing Alicia and I thought the framing industry was going to be about was framing these family portraits that you grew up seeing on the walls and its quite the contrary. Cross stitches, paintings, and all forms of artwork that we are familiar and unfamiliar with which makes the work fun.

What else do you offer besides custom framing?

Framing is fun and it’s the bread and butter but we also know that, especially over the last year, we’ve had to pivot and look at new options in ways to not only work with customers but to get them in the door to work with us. One thing that we were really excited about was printing services. We had folks randomly calling and asking if we printed photos and art and had enough of that request that we invested in a high quality Epson printer we have some size restrictions but it is a great way for us to start in the printing industry and to offer those smaller images on different papers and canvas. This also allows us to work with those local photographers and not just the painters and sketchers.

So we also brought in art supplies ranging from watercolors, oils, acrylics, papers, charcoals. We have a huge order coming in the next month to get some extra supplies and have a diverse inventory. 

As we’ve been able to carry these quality art supplies which we get from a great vendor, it allows us to also work with the artist who maybe can’t afford that fancy frame-up. But if we can help provide the tools for them to create the amazing work, then that’s where its at.

What is the average timeline for creating custom frames or unique sizes or shapes?

So right now we are out about 4-6 weeks on our projects, however we do carry some supplies in the store for a quick job done. Size restrictions are there, but we have frames, glass and mats in store that we could throw together.

The timeline isn’t always dependent on how fast Alicia and I are working, its based mostly product availability and shipping. We know it’s not just us feeling that pain as its multiple industry in this together. We don’t carry all the frames in the shop, as most projects are ordered through our vendor and then put together by either Alicia or myself. 

Start to finish from designing with Alicia to us having the project framed up, wrapped up ready to go, varies from project to project and customer to customer. What matters is that we are offering what is best for the customer.

What’s your best selling frame style?

That’s a hard question because every project that comes in here cater to their own special frame style so I mean I don’t know that there is one that we could narrow it down to to say that there’s one frame style that goes out more than another the most common one is your simple frame and single mat heck there’s like people would just do a frame and no matches class on top of the image which we don’t recommend all the time but affordability is always taken into consideration right customers priorities and training for us is an investment not only for us but for the customer spending the money to encapsulate something for the long run is an investment that you’re not going to want to reframe something to spend the money the first time so we want to make sure go we’re doing what’s right by the customer spending that time picking out the right colors of the thousand different options of chops and frames thousand different mat colors as well, we try to do what’s best.

The framing process all depends too on what we’re framing. If it’s a cross stitch or like an old school family doily it’s going to be mounted and framed differently than an original piece by Butch Thunderhawk or even a print from another local artists because the difference style we want to preserve the original art whereas the print might be a little less valuable we might have more different conservation mount/frame style.

Do you have a personal favorite frame style?

We have a couple of our favorite moldings here anything from rustic to more modern we’ve got a couple of colorful ones here the Blues and the Reds you know we’ve been dealing a lot with our metal frames which are very vibrant colors and we have a lot of bold classical style old gold We also work a lot with folks who have those old classical round images so it’s fun when we get a nice classical oval in. We run with a completely different vendor on those but they’re able to shape moulding into an oval frame, circles, squares, anything for a unique shape which is a nice addition to our framing styles.

How has COVID affected custom framing in Bismarck?

What a year, right? COVID’s been interesting. I would be lying if I didn’t say that we have had a positive affect from COVID in regards to where we live and our dynamic community that this unfortunate situation has made a lot of folks come together and support local businesses there’s a lot of divisive issues in the world that we can agree or disagree on but supporting local businesses and the people in the community has been something that has been unwavering with Bismarck Mandan. It’s been sometimes emotional, sometimes very humbling to see how customers react to how we’re reacting. We take precautions during an open hours, and mask up. When COVID started, we took a lot of precautions for ourselves, our family, our friends, so we had the door closed but we had signs that we were here to stop let you in or coming by appointment time. It taught us, I think along with other businesses, to pivot and look at what else we could introduce to our customers so it gave us time to work on our website and branding getting the printing and everything that we’re trying to touch base on getting the branding on the windows and catching up with acquaintances that we continue working with and grow that as well it’s not always just the framing people working for working with the restaurants because if we’re not all working together downtown or in just Bismarck men in general were not as strong as it would be collectively.

What are your goals for the future?

Our goals for the future are to continue doing what we’re doing. We love what we’re doing right now, we love our customers, we love our community, we want to continue growing our art supplies, we wanted to look into maybe getting a bigger printer and having larger size options for that. Anything we can do to help the local artists and get more of their artwork in here for sale and get their names out in the community. For years Carden Custom framing in Bismarck has been the premier spot to get your stuff preserved for forever for generations. Continuing the business from my aunt and uncle only makes that a deeper and more ingrained value in morality for us we want to be the best because if we’re not being the best then no one’s going to trust these precious items with us to frame and preserve for their children and their grandchildren.

Its just Alicia and myself. We wake up and we go to sleep talking about this place. Were here on our days off with our children were exposing them to how we’re doing the work and working together because this place is our life and if we don’t embrace it as such, it will show in our work so the blood sweat and tears are shed here, they’re shed at home while we’re discussing the business while we’re having fun as a family but our goal is to just continue doing what we’re doing but just keep leveling it up year after year and providing what the community wants out of us asking them what do you expect out of us and how can we keep delivering

Anything else you’d like to add?

We’re located at 301 E front Ave in Bismarck. We are open Tuesday – Friday 9:00am–5:30pm and Saturday 10:00am-1:30pm or by appointment. If you need us to meet you here on a Sunday or Monday after hours give us a call, the number is 701-224-0802 you can text us as well. We are on Instagram and Facebook and our website

If you own a local business and would also like to be featured on the ADP blog, contact us.