Reasons to Love Minnesota No. 178: FastFrame

All hail the king of custom framing

It’s rare that we use this platform to sing the praises of a corporation. But today we’re making an exception for a very specific FastFrame store in Greenway Lakes Commons near Bde Maka Ska.

Owner Steven Schaben isn’t some run-of-the-mill franchisee; he’s a preternaturally talented custom framer with an incredible eye for detail. Schaben has worked at FastFrame since 1989; after managing it for 16 years, he bought the store in 2005. That’s 31 years of experience he brings to the matting table.

No matter what a client hauls in — original art, wedding photos, film posters, a diploma, an autographed baseball, the kind of oversized triptych that typically hangs in museums (or Wayzata foyers) — he knows just how to tackle it, all while being mindful of budget.

When we first moved to Minneapolis, we knew we’d outgrown the junky Ikea frames that carried us through our 20s; we wanted frames that felt as adult as the art we invested in. Schaben has completed four projects for us to date, framing a vintage propaganda poster from Vietnam (pictured below, on left), a graphite drawing of an eerie anthropomorphic rabbit by Icelandic artist Inga Maria Brynjarsdottir, a limited-edition Mao Zedong print by Argentina’s Nicolas Romero Escalada, and the fabulous piece you see at the top of this page, painted by Minneapolis‘ own Mallorie Jean Kuschel.

Schaben is soft-spoken and contemplative, a framing visionary. He can look at any piece and know instantly how to make it better. We’ve come to him with our own hazy ideas, too, which he improves upon through guided discussion. (And in instances where our ideas were straight-up lousy, he gently steered us toward something more inspired.) We’ve never felt rushed either; Schaben makes his clients feel like they’re the only customers in the world, staying well past closing time if that’s what it takes to find the perfect frame.

Couple all that with a speedy turnaround time, competitive pricing, and meticulous craftsmanship, and Schaben has lifelong fans in Team Minnevangelist. But you don’t have to take our word for it. His FastFrame store has a perfect 5-star rating on both Google and Yelp — a near-mythic feat in this trolly day and age.

Greenway Lakes Commons, 3248 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN; 612-924-9213.