May 23, 2018

Framing the MCA Octopus Initiative

Guest Blogger Dara Segal, Founder of Simply Framed


Does choosing frames for over 270 pieces of art, all destined for different unknown interiors sound daunting? Keep it timeless and trust your frame shop.

Framing truly is an art unto itself. Since launching my online custom frame shop Simply Framed in 2014, I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting the art of framing—examining corners, testing profiles, looking for the perfect finishes, debating mat colors—all to ensure that artwork is presented in the best possible way. The biggest takeaway? It's about the art, not the frame.

When it came to selecting frames for over 270 pieces (with more to come!) for MCA Denver's Octopus Initiative, this was especially true. The spotlight had to be completely focused on this amazing group of Denver artists. And since we didn’t know where the art would wind up hanging, we had to make sure—as we always do—that the frames were classic and timeless, fit for any lucky patron’s space.

The concept behind the Octopus Initiative, “putting art in the hands of many,” really syncs up with our Simply Framed mission of spreading the joy of art and helping people love what they put on their walls. Letting museum-goers enjoy the pieces in their homes is a surefire testament to the power that beautiful art has in making people’s daily lives better. (I’m still on the waitlist for pieces from Molly Bounds and Derrick Velasquez, so fingers crossed!)

A curatorial team works on framing several artworks.

Initially, Nell, the Octopus Initiative’s Lead, and I—along with other members of the team—sat down and had an epic pow-wow selecting frame styles for each piece. We wound up choosing our timeless Natural and White Gallery Frames for most of the artworks—these neutral finishes let the art speak for itself and will mesh well in any interior they might hang in.

There was a bit more variation in how we chose to mount the pieces. Floating is always a great treatment for original works on paper, especially when they have interesting edges—for instance, some of Molly Bounds’ prints. Our general rule of thumb is the smaller the work, the larger the mat—and vice versa. Because Chris Oatey’s works include a fair amount of white space on the page, we decided to frame those full bleed. And we chose to mat pieces from Laura Shill’s Absent Lovers series to emphasize where the figure is contained within the borders of her works.

Portrait of a woman in lavendar ink on a white canvas

Having spent many years in the business and working with thousands of professional artists and galleries to frame their art, Simply Framed has systems in place to handle large orders under tight deadlines. After we determined the details of how every piece would be framed, our team worked their magic to ensure that all of the pieces arrived at MCA in time for their March 15th opening.

And that’s just the beginning! Every time we ship a frame, we love nothing more than to see what unfolds after it arrives on our customer’s doorstep, ready to hang. So to all the winners out there, if you have any pics of the Octopus Initiative artwork in your home, send them our way.

Thank you to Nell, Nora, Nick & the rockstar team at MCA Denver. We are incredibly thrilled to be part of a project that both showcases local talent and spreads the joy of art outside of MCA Denver’s walls.

A woman sits cross legged on the floor in front of several artworks

Dara Segal founded Simply Framed in 2014 with the goal of making online custom framing easy and affordable and a mission of helping people love what they put up on their walls. Simply Framed has since framed thousands of pieces for individual collectors, professional artists, art businesses and institutions coast to coast. Learn more at