The work of a creative rarely occurs in isolation. For anything from a piece of art to a photo-shoot to come to life, its creation invariably strings together the contribution of supporting talent that works tirelessly behind-the-scenes, often remaining invisible to the public gaze.
We kick off a series of interviews with those who quietly collaborate with makers and brands to unveil their invaluable contribution to the creative process.
For our first conversation, we caught up with Daniel Carabott of DOTA Frames, a family-run framing business that has been impeccably framing the work of creatives on the island for over three decades. Over the years, they have framed the creations of everyone from established artists such as Gabriel Caruana and Willie Apap, to emerging names including Te fit-Tazza and Nadine Noko, to name but a few.
In what way does your collaboration with artists through the framing of their work impact your own creativity?
I would consider framing as the finishing touch of any artwork, an extension of the piece itself which doesn’t only add to or complement the artwork but acts as a means of preservation. To achieve this harmony, I think it’s important to be on the same page as the artist and understand the vision that he or she has for a particular piece, and then bounce ideas off each other to find the right combination of materials that would accentuate their work. This interaction is often invaluable to us because we use the experience and knowledge we gain as inspiration to be able to help other clients who wouldn’t have that artistic flair.
What does a typical day at DOTA Frames look like?
We start every day with a coffee. It’s a morning ritual I really enjoy with my Dad. We sit, we chat and forget the day’s stress for a while. After that it’s down to the particular work load for the week. Sometimes we have a reasonable amount of frames to complete in a week, and sometimes we are drowning in deadlines. More often than not its a matter of finding a balance between helping clients whilst motoring through our workload. Some days we find that balance, other days we threaten to murder each other. It’s all part of the fun.
As a family-run business, what over the years has changed, and what has remained constant?
The biggest change I think that really affected our business was the explosion of social media these last few years. It’s not even about the ease at which we could interact with clients but about being able to share art and different framing ideas with such a wide audience. With massive sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, I think inspiration is everywhere and we feel less intimidated when it comes to decorating our homes with different or bolder choices. This also opened the market to a different and noticeably younger audience who brought a bunch of new ideas but is also aware of the need to preserve art for future generations.
In terms of what remained the same, I would say that it would have to be that at the end of the day, framing is a skilled craft. No matter what new machinery is available on the market, you need to have a good understanding of the process, materials and the way the different components of the frame interact together. It’s a skill I am still learning from my father, whose knowledge was passed down by his father. And If either of my kids decide to continue the line, I’ll be happy to teach them too!
If you had the opportunity to frame any painting in the world, which one would it be and why?
Tricky question. One would assume that if you’re going to frame any painting in the world it would have to be your favourite one (or you didn’t like someone elses work!). I don’t have an official list of favourites, but I know that trying to narrow it down to just one would leave me with too many grey hairs. What I would say is that I love framing paintings which display flawless talent in terms of technique and/or understanding of colour and composition. I like getting up close and just take a moment to really appreciate it. If the artwork is by a world renowned artist it adds a certain prestige and thrill to the work you're doing.
What is your motto?
“If you're going to do it, do it right.”
Framing beautiful art puts a big smile on my face. It’s an absolute pleasure to be one of the first people to see an artwork after it’s done and the first to see it complete with a frame. When the client comes to pick it up there is also that feel-good factor when you can see they are visibly happy with the outcome of their choices and our work. An overlooked speck of dust or an imperfection in the frame is enough to ruin the overall aesthetic, and although it seems that sometimes it’s only visible to us, it’s definitely worth taking that extra bit of time to do it right and be confident and proud of our work.