My Name is Rowena Leavy, I have been working in Bespoke & Co for nearly a year now, on a Jobsbridge Internship. Initially I began an eight week work placement in June of last year, through ‘Kick Start’ which is in partnership with the ‘Kilkenny Leader Program’. The course is a job placement initiative for unemployed people. The course is run by Ann Marie Mc Sorley of ‘Mc Sorley Training,’ Una McGrath and Bob Monks. The goal of Kickstart is to match employers with an employee’s skill set. Initially I did not know how my skills in Graphic Design and photography would fit in a framing company. I had seen the work that Bespoke were doing at a trade show a few years beforehand, and loved the on trend style of their frames, and how they had showcased their work, they stuck in my head. A meeting was arranged with Jamie and Nicola Connery at their business premises in Purcells inch, Kilkenny. I was interviewed in their showroom which resembles an Art Gallery. The walls are adorned with many beautifully framed photographs and pieces of fine art, it is a relaxed contemporary setting, white walls, sleek design, lacquered concrete floor and parked in the middle of the room, sits a beautiful 1959 ‘Vespa’ a real icebreaker. We get down to business, and I soon realise through our conversation that we have a lot to offer each other. I started work the following Monday.
It is during this eight week placement that I began to familiarise myself with the company products and brand identity. One of my tasks was to design an insert for Bespoke & Co’s new ‘Desk top’ frames for their ‘Bespoke & Go’ ready made frame range. The frames are contemporary with clean lines, made in their ‘Sail Range’ which is exclusive to Bespoke & Co. The desktops are all made in house in Kilkenny.
In addition to this the company website needed to be updated with new photographs of their products, I was given the opportunity to photograph the contents of the showroom, and most importantly the ‘Chevrons’ which are the sample corner pieces of the frames. It was vital that these images give the viewer an accurate visual description of how the frame looks, so that when they purchase a frame through the website, they are getting exactly what they see in the image. I learned on the job how to place and light each piece. It was the first time I had to photograph highly reflective objects, and I found this a very challenging process, but very rewarding when I reached my ‘Eureka’ moment.
When I began working here at Bespoke & Co, I had very little knowledge of the framing process. To me a frame was just something that housed the image, maybe in a nice shade to fit with my interior, but it is through working here, that I have learned there is a real art and skill to framing a piece. I had no idea that a photograph or art piece can be severely damaged by acid bleeding from the mount board, for this reason all mounts used at Bespoke are conservation quality. Whether it is photography or fine art work that comes through the door, it is handled with care and respect. Jamie, Brian and Marcin have a keen eye for what frame will compliment a piece as soon as they see it. Old school framing techniques are still practiced here, a master gilder will take away a raw wood frame and turn it into a one of a kind hand gilded piece. I also got to observe and photograph Jamie practice the technique of ‘Wash Lines’ which were done by hand; a dying art.
I have had many opportunities to photograph different subjects over the year, from the guys working in the warehouse on the pieces, jewellery and photographing the unusual items that are brought into us from time to time for framing. My favourite for example were packets of curry powder. The customer liked the graphic on the packets, as the character sported an eccentric ‘Handlebar’ Moustache, rather like his own and wanted to hang them in his kitchen.
Overall the experience of working here has been more than a positive. I work in a lovely relaxed setting, with exceptionally friendly employers and co-workers. I have learned that your frame is not just something you pick up as an after thought, but it can be truly ‘Bespoke’ to compliment your photograph, art piece or even your favourite curry.