Anna Shaffer appreciates the artists in the Ketchikan art scene.
That’s why she and the staff at Starboard Frames and Gifts create framing that highlights the art in a way that makes the framing secondary.
“Our framing style is no one style,” said Shaffer, owner of the framing and gift shop on Dock Street in downtown Ketchikan. “Our goal in framing is to make the art stand out, not the frame. We don’t want to take away from the piece. That’s our goal, to make the art stand out, not the frame.”
Shaffer is a Virginia native who spent several years in Seattle before moving to Ketchikan 24 years ago when a family member received job offer. She opened Starboard Frames and Gifts in 2009 and the shop now features the work of several local artists, including the whimsical maritime drawings of Tom Crestodina; realistic nature and wildlife scenes by Terry Pyles; digital creations by Tracy Brown; graphic art by Matt Hamilton and abstract art from Lance Bifoss and Debbie Hoyt, among other Alaska artists.
But it’s the local art on display that makes Starboard Frames and Gifts unique.
“We’re thrilled to give people a start and showcase what they do,” Shaffer said. “There are some very good artists in Ketchikan, and we specialize in truly local and emerging artists in Ketchikan.”
Shaffer said she does not have a particular favorite style of art. Rather, her tastes are eclectic.
“I appreciate all kinds of art,” she said. “Woven designs, abstract, realistic, it just sort of has to appeal to me. That’s reflected in the fact that we carry so many different kinds of art.”
She and her staff have framed art as large as eight feet by five feet and can accommodate just about any type of artwork. In addition to framed art, her husband, George, is a dentist who enjoys woodworking, and Anna uses his scraps to make components for beads for her handmade jewelry sold at the shop.
Although the shop is steeped with the works of local artists, the name comes from Ketchikan’s nautical history.
“Ketchikan has a maritime economy and an arts economy, but the name of the shop came about as a play on words between the nautical terms ‘port’ and ‘starboard.’ Since starboard is to the right, we kind of played on the tagline that ‘you’re going to find the right thing here.’”
“People without a maritime background may not get it. But they still come in for the art.”
Often during cruise season, Ketchikan is visited by celebrities and well-known stars. But while Shaffer said she has never had a brush with the famous at her shop, she has found that making simple personal connections with travelers is gratifying.
“Last year a couple came in from Florida on a cruise and they loved some of the art work here,” Shaffer said. “They also loved our framing style and they didn’t know of anybody in their area of Florida who could do the same thing. So we designed a frame for them for their art and they loved it. That was memorable because of the personal connection we formed over time.”
“When you make that kind of personal connection with customers and local people we get to know their styles. We’ll even call them when something is here that they might be interested in. The personal connection is always the most rewarding.”
Shaffer loves living in Ketchikan because, when she has time, it allows her to pursue her passion of sailing.
“Sailing, hiking, being outdoors when the weather allows and I like gardening, even though you can’t do much of that here,” she said. “I like working with plants. It’s just a part of being outside. But I also do a lot of work with the local Ketchikan arts council, which is very meaningful to me.”
It’s also her connection to Ketchikan’s thriving arts community that truly makes her appreciate the area.
“The area supports creativity, all kinds of creativity,” she said. “There are established musicians and artists and there’s just a lot of support for people being creative no matter what you do in the working hours of the day.”
“Of course, the beauty of the place is pretty amazing, too.”