“Rooted” is all about the people and places that make us proud to call our community home.
It will be 13 years this week that Lise and Bob King celebrate the opening of King’s Framing and Art Gallery.
The married couple say they feel lucky to have survived the pandemic and are excited to be open again and welcome people into their business, which caters to artistic needs from beginners to professionals.
Lise is a certified Bob Ross instructor (CRWI-CRI) as well as a SoC Certified School of Colour Teacher & Tutor who was born and raised in Astorville.
“I was always involved in art ever since I was a small child,” she said.
“My uncle who was a teacher told me about a scholarship opportunity at Sheridan College and I actually ended up winning it, but when the letter came to my house, my dad opened it, he discouraged me, he really didn’t want me going to Toronto because that was when I was 16.”
Lise says she was so disappointed she stopped drawing for a while.
“I pursued a career in hairstyling and makeup,” says Lise.
“I became a makeup artist and I was getting work doing photo shoots in Toronto. I was also preparing to do special effects makeup for movies, but then my dad fell ill.”
During that time, Lise was living in Mississauga and that’s when she met Bob who was born in Scarborough.
“I was working in the heating and air conditioning trade as a sheet metal worker and I am retired now but I have spent over 50 years in that business having worked on some big projects like the SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) in Toronto, General Motors in Oshawa as well as designing the sheet metal at the Grand Gallery in Haileybury,” Bob recalled.
When Lise’s father fell ill, they decided to make the move north.
Lise says, “I brought him north for a visit and he fell in love with the area.”
They moved up to Corbeil, bought a house, and Bob got a job. That's when Lise started to get back into doing art. It was shortly after when Bob came up with the idea for their business.
“I got tired of her paying to get her artwork framed and I just thought that I could do a better job at that,” he said.
They both got trained in custom framing and Bob says, “I thought to myself, if I can design and cut metal and everything else, I can certainly cut cardboard.”
King’s Framing was established and The Kings have grown their business to be a brick and mortar store with an online component as well which services customers in Canada and around the world. Bob says the online store really saved them over the last year.
“When we were shutdown, people who are artists couldn’t go out and buy their supplies anywhere and so we were able to offer that and there are a lot of supplies we have that you can’t get anywhere else in Canada,” says Bob.
As an example, he says, “We have something called stone paper, which is actually made out of stone, and we’re the only place in North America that has that. The last order I got for that was one tonne, which was 2,000 sheets, so that was a big order.”
Lise says they have become renowned for their work.
“We have had artists come to us and have all their work framed by us and when they go to put their art at a show, sometimes people will just comment on how nicely the piece is framed and the artists will say, ‘yeah but what about the actual artwork?’”
Lise says framing a piece and the materials used is just as important as the work itself.
“As a fine arts artist quality material means a lot to me,” she says.
“When I’m selling my art, I’m selling my brand. People who look at my work and who want my work, know that it is something that is going to last for decades and it won’t fade. That’s why we take our framing side very seriously as well because we made a pact to open this business that we had an interest in and wanted to only offer quality products to both professional and amateur artists.”
She says one of the main pieces of advice she gives is that amateur artists must learn when they are selling their work it is important to sell your brand as a quality artists with quality products. She says, “Word of mouth goes a long way in this industry.”
On the other side of the business, Lise conducts art classes.
“I never thought I was going to be good enough to make it a career,” says Lise.
“But Bob really encouraged me to work hard and to be critical of my own work and that’s how I am now with my students because they want to know what they need to fix and how to get better, they want to hear the truth.”
Lise says, “I don’t criticize but I critique, which means that I explain why it’s not working and what we can do to make it work. I want to have people understand the language of art.”
Lise teaches everything from pencils, to acrylic oils to water colors and pastels and says, “It broke my heart when we were allowed to open for that two week period because we knew we were getting shutdown and I had students asking if they could stay until midnight when the shutdown came in to effect.”
But now with restrictions lifting, they will be able to offer lessons again and are not taking a break this summer.
“Usually I stop offering lessons in the summer and we start up again in September, but this year we are going to keep our lessons going throughout the summer because everyone missed it so much. The Tuesday night art classes are full. We have to adhere to the COVID-19 regulations as to how many students we can have in any class at any time, but the classes we have going right now are completely full,” she says.
The King’s are successful entrepreneurs that have made a name for themselves in northern Ontario with a clientele base that reaches across the globe. They say for people who are looking to start a business themselves, the best advice is to, “Take pride in your work and make sure you give them the best job done possible because it will come back to haunt you if you don’t provide great customer service.
Lise says finding what your niche is, is a good way to look at starting a business.
“It all depends on what you have. We felt like we could offer some things at a higher quality than what anyone else was offering in the area and that’s what we did. But I would suggest people find what is missing and fill that void.”