Green Living Expo, Part I: Eco-Framed Art


Meet best friends and business partners Mike Bortke (with glasses) and Ryan Schoen. Funny, friendly and easy-going, these two guys are great to talk with! They have fun stories to share, finish each others’ sentences, and are also the founders of Frame It Green. Both bring their talents and passions to the table: Mike is a graphic designer with production and printing experience. Ryan is a professional photographer and artist. Frame It Green uses your personal photographs or digital images to produce one of a kind, custom pieces of art for your home, office, studio or for a special gift. But, they do it green. Here’s how it all works:

Gaby in Green: What was the inspiration to start Frame It Green?

Mike Bortke: “A couple of years ago, I designed this really cool graphic and wanted to hang it up in my home office. So I checked out various methods and companies to get it printed,  mounted, matted and framed… all of which were very expensive. At the time, I was working at a printing and production company that makes signs and banners for tradeshows and other big output needs. I thought, ‘why not just take this eco friendly fabric that I print on at work (which has the texture of canvas and is made of recycled materials) and print my design on that?'”

Gaby in Green: So you were familiar with eco-friendly fibers?

“Yes; at my old job, we had been using them for quite some time. They are way more durable. For my little side project, I stretched the fabric over a stretcher bar like a painting, and framed it like a piece of canvas over a wooden frame. It looked terrific and didn’t cost me an arm and a leg! I couldn’t believe how many compliments I got from friends and family.”

Gaby in Green: Nice! Is it still hanging in your office?

“You bet! So after that project, I thought, ‘if I can do this why can’t everyone who has a picture or design they love print it and hang it up?’ Ryan is one of my best friends and a great photographer, so I asked him if he would want to print any of his photos on the eco-fabric and try to sell them.”

Ryan Schoen: “So I said, “yeah, let’s try it and see what kind of response we get.’ We made about 10 of them and got a very good response. So we have just been taking more photos and making more Frame It Green pictures hoping it will catch on.”

Gaby in Green: What makes it your product eco-friendly?

Mike Bortke: “Every step and raw material in the process of framing [your work of art] is recycled. All of our inks are water-based. The paper that is used to transfer the design onto the canvas is recycled after each use. And the canvas is not really canvas at all; we use an eco-friendly fabric made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. We also use reclaimed wood and hardware for the frame.”

Gaby in Green: So in other words, this is pretty unique?

“You can buy similar pieces of artwork at Kinkos, Best Buy and tons of other home  and decorating stores; but the ones I have seen were all printed on vinyl and use solvent inks. In other words, our product is the only all green product on the market (as far as we know, of course!).”

Gaby in Green: What other green initiatives do you practice?

Ryan Schoen: “This is our first venture in eco-nomics [pun intended] so other than recycling at home and at work, our main focus right now is maintaining the green factor in our company. We love talking about the process and seeing peoples’ reactions to what the fabric is and how we get it to look like it does; they really can’t believe it sometimes!”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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