Serendipity plays a huge part in career decisions

Forty years ago when I was designing electronic systems to capture missile test data, I would have laughed uproariously if someone had suggested that I might end up framing artwork in a rural community in Southwest Virginia. My goal then was to live on the beach in California and drive fast cars.

Twenty years ago I was living on the beach in California and driving a Shelby version of the Dodge Charger. If someone had made the same suggestion, I would have carefully explained to them that I had a mission to change the world for the better and I could not see Virginia and picture framing as part of that goal.

Fast forward through numerous career changes to last year when my wife Gretchen asked me to frame some of her pastels for an exhibition. I found it to be more of a challenge than I ever expected. By the time her friends had asked me to frame their artwork, I was seriously engrossed in learning the ancient art of picture framing and I realized that I had an awful lot to learn.

It is now a year later and I am deeply involved in cutting-edge picture framing which marries computer technology, fine woodworking and many aspects of graphic design to enhance the presentation of every kind of artwork imaginable. At Floyd Custom Framing, I am using every bit of my technical and business training and am scrambling to learn more about design every day.

Custom picture framing is every bit as challenging as designing computer systems and is a lot more rewarding. In both cases, one has to think outside the box to come up with a viable solution and pedestrian solutions are not acceptable.

Successful computer designs may affect more lives, but there is a "wow" factor in completing a challenging custom frame design that creates a bond with clients and enriches my life.

Every day I have to solve design problems that test me to the limit and give me added insight into the complexities of making artwork "pop" without overwhelming the art with an overly elaborate design or intense color scheme. The technical and artistic challenges are significant. See for more information on what is involved.

Fortunately the picture framing industry is a tightly-knit group of fairly small businesses and these business owners share business and design information freely on the Internet. Most of us have an abiding interest in art and in preserving and displaying it. We are beset by competition from big box retailers and few of us are computer literate.

My recent entry into the field has not hurt me in the least. There are new tools available this year which have changed the ground rules for running a framing business and have opened up new opportunities to give customers better service. The entire industry is in the throes of major changes and the playing field is no longer stacked in favor of old established framing companies.

I am receiving help from well-established framers and I can return the favor by helping them with technology issues. We are all working together for mutual support in this period of economic uncertainty. All in all, this is one of the most satisfying careers I have ever had.

It is also the most challenging in terms of creating a profitable business. Anything that involves custom work always carries the risk of discovering unknown issues and then having to solve them with style and grace. Great stuff! I wouldn’t have it any other way!

How has serendipity affected your career choices?

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