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Why They Do What They Do: Pursuing a Creative Profession

Val Schaefer from ValCo speaks to Shoutout Colorado about what lead him to choosing a creative profession and the future of ValCo.

We had the good fortune of connecting with Val Schaefer and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Val, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?

Pursuing an artistic career started as a form of art therapy for me. As a member of the latest generation of American combat veterans serving in the Global War on Terrorism, I returned home with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I found myself altered by the experience and confused about how it impacted me. Approximately 30% of people who have been in war zones develop PTSD.

As a growing treatment option, art therapists have reported remarkable results from work with combat veterans, and theorists have identified psychological and neurological mechanisms that explain the unique capacities of art therapy to promote recovery from PTSD. The approach shows promise as a means of treating hard-to-treat symptoms of combat-related PTSD, such as avoidance and emotional numbing, while also addressing the underlying psychological situation that gives rise to these symptoms. Although art therapy was not part of my formal treatment process, it quickly became one of the leading healing factors on my journey when I began hand making the modern Victorian for my personal art collection.

I was immediately drawn to the artistic endeavor. In 2018 I purchased a collapsible work surface, basic tools, and supplies and began creating in a small two bedroom apartment. My workshop doubled as a dining room. Framing became a go-to activity when symptoms increased. From 2018 through 2021 hundreds of projects were designed and built during these important therapeutic sessions. By 2021 the artistic endeavor was a daily activity and in early 2022 ValCo was born and I decided to offer the creations to the world.

The Elton John modern Victorian
ValCo Ornate Frames

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work. ValCo is a colorful trendsetting innovator that knows no design boundaries. ValCo moulding profiles, trim and dimensional lumber layer together to create a personality unique to the frames intended art. The five to over sixteen layer design creates a stunning complexity. Frame widths reach over 12″ to ensure larger projects don’t suffer a diminished presence. The unique design results in a bold and elegant presence.

Color selection and placement is where the line between art and frame becomes blurred. The raw uncolored wood is in essence my blank canvas. The real beauty of making the modern Victorian frame by hand is in the color customization and modular design. Each frame integrates the art and amplifies it. Each creation is art that wraps around art. Once your frame centerpiece is in a custom ValCo, separating them will forever make both look incomplete. Designing and building with ValCo is an artistic journey ending with an heirloom level finished project.

In the last year the work has reached levels of complexity, notoriety, and promise that I never dreamed of. ValCo has employed five support team members, established a catalog of standardized frames, hosted art pop-ups to showcase creations from other artists and myself, and established relationships to offer the collection in retail frame storefronts across the nation. ValCo has quickly become known as one of the most exciting and unique custom frame lines on the market! I can’t wait to see what comes next. My goal is for ValCo to become a common household name.

The Monroe modern Victorian
ValCo Ornate Frames

The Mattis modern Victorian
ValCo Ornate Frames

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

Sending a big thank you to my lady Julie, my children, business mentor Paul, artisan brothers and sisters, and ValCo supporters for the encouragement, advice, and kindness you’ve given me along this journey. It means the world to me!

The Lord Baltimore modern Victorian
ValCo Ornate Frames

The modern Victorian
ValCo Ornate Frames

The Monroe modern Victorian
ValCo Ornate Frames


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