Martin Steele


Aesthetic Frame & Art Services

Age: 47

Martin Steele launched his career as a picture frame maker in a small garage converted into a studio behind a friend’s West Hollywood home.

Today, almost 20 years later, Steele is still working in West Hollywood. But he’s left the garage behind for a 5,000-square-foot showroom in the tony art district off Melrose Avenue.

“It was my dream to be the best framer in Southern California, directing my services towards galleries, professional artists and museums,” says Steele, co-owner of Aesthetic Frame & Art Services.

Manny Silverman, who owns an art gallery in West Hollywood, says Steele is one of the best framers in the business.

“A picture, when it is framed correctly, can hang anywhere but, when it’s done incorrectly, it can ruin the aesthetic value of the art,” Silverman said. “That’s why people go to Marty. With him, you have the confidence that he has the proper materials and skills to create whatever you want.”

Steele originally founded Aesthetic Frame Design, but merged with a competitor Art Services four years ago. The decision to go into a partnership turned out to be a good one, he said, as the combination turned the new company into one of the largest in Los Angeles.

Some of Aesthetic Art’s work has been displayed for the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. All of the frames in Shutters and Loews hotels in Santa Monica are the company’s creations, Steele said.

“This is a very specialized market that we’ve been able to capture,” said Steele, whose partner is Jon Moldafsky. “Many come to us because they have important stuff that has to be done just right. They know we’ll do it the right way.”

Thousands of frames are produced each month out of a 40,000 square foot South Los Angeles factory. About 85 percent of all the frames are made from scratch.

“We make it ourselves, design it, fabricate it, and make the picture frame from the simplest wood frames to elaborate antique reproductions of gold leaf frames,” he says.

Joe Bel Bruno

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