A Passion for Art Drives This Framing Business

Anthony Self started his business 38 years ago because he saw a need for quality affordable framing. Photos by Steve Whitmore

It all started more than four decades ago when a hungry artist went shopping for a custom frame for one of his paintings. What he discovered was a lack of quality and high cost.

“I was an artist and I couldn’t afford a picture frame,” said Anthony Self, co-owner of Anthony’s Framing Gallery. “When I went to my first custom frame shop, I realized immediately that they were extremely expensive, so I decided I would work part-time for a frame shop.”

Then living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Self discovered that although he was a passionate artist by night, he loved framing pictures by day.

The store’s entryway is filled with paintings and other fine pieces of art.

“I realized I really loved framing,” Self said. “I ended up working full-time for a company, and they began importing art from the Orient. They would import and wholesale throughout the country and so I became their big salesperson. I traveled all over the country, going to the trade shows and selling to local galleries.”

Self eventually landed in Los Angeles a bit tired of living out of a suitcase. He and David Jones decided to take a chance and opened Anthony’s on Walnut Street in Pasadena 38 years ago. Unlike the companies Self had encountered previously, the focus was on quality and affordability. He and Jones wanted artists and students to be able to afford to frame their works. It was this strategy that enabled the business to succeed at its first location.

From L to R, Mark Self displays a custom framing project with his brother Anthony in the work-room area of their store.

“There was very little retail on Walnut Street,” Self said. “It was mostly dry cleaners there and that was about it.” The partners ultimately picked up and moved to Rosemead Boulevard in Pasadena where the business stayed for 10 years before moving to 2466 Huntington Drive in San Marino. Ten years later, Anthony’s moved to its current location at 1120 Huntington Drive in San Marino.

“We really love this location,” Self said, dismissing any notion of moving again. “It’s got great parking and it’s perfect for our needs.”

The business has grown exponentially over the years and Self attributes the success in part to his passion.

“I really love the design aspect of framing,” he said. “I like the challenge. Thirty-five years ago, we became members of the American Society of Interior Designers Industry Partners. A lot of our business is done through interior designers. We do the whole thing from beginning to end.”

Anthony’s Framing Gallery has been at its current location at 1120 Huntington Drive for nearly a decade.

Throughout the years, Self and his brother, Mark, have worked with many different interior designers.

“I just love that,” he added. “You get to see a little bit of everything. You learn so much from them about design, balance, color, texture. So, placing art in the environment is just so important to really make it fluid.”

One of the most important elements of his success is to keep an open mind when it comes to interior design. He said that what used to appeal to him 10 years ago now seems “almost stoic.”

His enthusiasm for his work is apparent as he speaks about taking difficult items and integrating them into the home. In fact, he calls it “mind blowing.”

“It’s wonderful to be part of that, I think,” Self said.

His customers agree wholeheartedly.

A sampling of the thousands of options of custom frames that Anthony’s offers its customers.

Susan Helfgott of Arcadia has been coming to Anthony’s for years, decades even, she said, because she believes Self and his team are the best at incorporating her ideas into her home.

“These are very special artists,” Helfgott said recently during a visit to the store. She was there checking on some artwork she was having framed. “If you have a challenging section of the home and want a beautiful frame or a piece of art, Anthony’s is the best. This is the only place to come.”


Anthony’s Framing Gallery is located at 1120 Huntington Drive in San Marino. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit www.anthonysartandframes.com or call (626) 943-9204.

Anthony’s Framing Gallery Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 6.15.18.