Two Gettysburg artists create ‘windows’ for fellow artists’ works
By Alex J. Hayes | Photography by Casey Martin
The art of framing and matting, when done properly, enhances other works.
A frame should not detract from the art it holds nor expose it to danger.
A pair of framers in downtown Gettysburg take this responsibility seriously. Artists themselves, they treat others’ works as they would their own, carefully creating pieces unique for each customer to properly house their treasured collections.
Brian Steinberger spent 17 years mastering his craft at Gettysburg Custom Framing before the shop’s owner decided to pursue other opportunities in 2020. Wanting to continue his trade, Brian purchased the business. The longtime artist and photographer took over the shop in a storefront he shares with Lord Nelson’s Gallery on Chambersburg Street.
Brian needed a hand and quickly connected with longtime acquaintance Geoffrey Thulin, a fine artist who has been framing for about 40 years.
The pair’s friendship and lifetime of experience give Gettysburg Custom Framing’s customers an experience not found in many American downtowns. The business welcomes regulars from Erie, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., as well as Adams County locals.
“One of our customers likes to say not all frame shops are created equal,” says Brian.
He and Geoffrey treasure the relationships they form with their clients.
When a customer enters the store, he or Geoffrey carefully examines the piece. Many items that are brought in are fragile, so extra care is needed.
An idea or two usually pops into their minds instantly.
But first, they listen.
“If the customer has ideas, they are more important than mine,” says Brian.
The artists then explore colors and size options, keeping the original piece in focus.
“I always figure if someone says ‘Wow, I love the framing’ then you didn’t really do the job so well. The real job was to finish the artwork,” he explains.
Gettysburg Custom Framing’s basement workshop allows Brian and Geoffrey to create one-of-a-kind frames and matting.
“It puts us in control of the product and how it looks,” says Geoffrey.
Some frames are thick; others are thin. Mats can be single, double or completely unnecessary.
What matters most is that it complements the original piece. The shop frames anything that one would want to display, including flags, family heirlooms, newspapers, dresses, artworks or collectibles.
A commission Brian is especially proud of originated from an artist in Italy. The painter created two pieces on canvas that depicted a couple’s wedding in Budapest. Brian stretched the canvases and framed them in an elegant and traditional style. The final product is one the couple’s family can treasure for generations.
The men enjoy working with their hands and solving problems. Patience is one of the most important qualities of a good framer, Brian shares. Often, a piece can look perfect and complete. Then, Brian or Geoffrey’s keen eye notices a small piece of dust or hair below the glass. Someone else might overlook it, but they know it is there and backtrack to ensure precision.
As the name suggests, the majority of Brian’s business is custom framing. However, Gettysburg Custom Framing also offers giclee printing on paper and canvas. Those wanting a piece highlighting scenes from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, or World War I or II may want to explore the collection. The store also has the capability of printing photos with a complete darkroom to assist those who might find black-and-white negatives stored in their attic. Brian also sells photos he has captured of the Irish Brigade Monument on a fall day and snowy Sachs Covered Bridge.
Brian and Geoffrey’s friendship and strong working relationship enhance the overall customer experience. “It’s great having that working relationship where we really trust each other,” Geoffrey says. The pair constantly use their unique perspectives to bounce ideas off of each other.
“We are kind of like accomplices,” jokes Brian, “but in a good way.”
Gettysburg Custom Framing
17 Chambersburg St., Gettysburg
Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
From Concept to Final Print
By Jessica Dean
Brian Steinberger first became interested in photography as a child.His fascination with film stemmed from seeing his mom drop off film at the grocery store and then viewing the finished product: printed photos.
Growing up in Adams County, his love for the area shows in his pieces. His subjects include upper Adams County’s fruit belt, local state forests, historic homes and the battlefield.
Having total control over the entire imaging process—from the first sight of a potential subject to the presentation of the final print—is his preference.