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A Custom Framing Shop in Sugar House Unfazed by Construction Projects

Scott Waters, owner of Artistic Framing in Sugar House, has built a steady business over the last 16 years with skills he learned as a young man.


Nestled in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Sugar House — named by early pioneers for the loamy soil which was perfect for growing and cultivating sugar beets — you’ll find a rich history of mom and pop businesses along 2100 South. Artistic Framing, a custom framing shop owned and operated by Scott Waters, is a staple along this main drag through town. 

The shop hasn’t always been the smooth running machine it is now. After 16 years in business, things look much different than they did in the beginning. “It was a tough run for the first several years. In fact, my wife Jolene often asked what I was doing, but I didn’t give up and now here we are all these years later.” 

Waters learned how to frame when he was in high school as part of an art class where he studied the basics of framing, color theory, and the different types of canvas and glass. This is where his idea of owning his own store was born. 

Waters also worked at The Framery, and helped to organize the Sugar House Art Walk (formerly known as the Sugar House Art Stroll), along with several others. The Art Walk is now entering its 16th season and is as successful as ever at bringing folks to the area. As a young man, it may have seemed pretty far-fetched for Waters to own his own business, but Waters is a go-getter and has a great support system which ultimately made all the difference. 

The business idea sat on the back burner while Waters worked as a specialty woodworker for some 22 years. It was after he left that woodworking job that he and Jolene decided to give it a go.

A display of the many varieties and styles of frames available at Artistic Framing. Photo by John Taylor.

The concept of owning a small business is amazing, yet it comes with challenges that have to be overcome, such as overhead and health insurance. Jolene carried the family for several years, and she had great health insurance, which made this story of persistence, long hours, and a family working together to make a high school dream come true.  

“My wife is really amazing! I couldn’t have done this without her,” said Waters, when explaining how difficult it was to create the business from the ground up. Waters explained that he used to advertise all the time and run sales, as well as hold events to get new people in the door. Now, 60% of those folks coming through the doors are repeat customers, and 40% are new. The internet brings a lot of new people into the store as does word of mouth. 

Custom framing is an art form and Waters helps to walk his customers through the hundreds of matts and frame samples that await them when they come through his door. He uses all acid free products and carries several different types of glass. He does a lot of family momentos such as shadow boxes as well as framing diplomas and doctorate degrees from the nearby universities during graduation. 

Although these are the general items that come through his shop, he recalled some of his favorite pieces of art, one being a Salvador Dali print. 

“It’s just kind of cool. You don’t see that most of the time. Most of the time things have sentimental value,” he explained, as he also shared memories of framing a giant buffalo hide in a hand carved frame.

“It was XXL and was to hang in a cabin in Ketchum, Idaho, and a giant shadow box with Tai ceremonial skirts that I hand sewed with fishing line into circles. These are the fun ones.”  

When asked about the current construction project, Waters told me, “Of course it has affected the business negatively and it’s slowed things down, but I’m not going anywhere, and it’s just me so the overhead isn’t what it may be for other businesses in the area.” 

Waters is a one-man-band, so to speak, and he tends to keep it real in this eclectic village we call Sugar House — a village that still marches to the ‘beet’ of a different drummer.

Feature Image of Scott Waters of Artistic Framing. Photo by John Taylor.

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