Editor's Note: This is the first installment of Vocations, a regular video series that will feature people in their work environment. If you know of someone who would make for a great story, email Chris Flynn at cflynn@forumcomm.com

FARGO - When Mike Ellingson was in kindergarten, the students would gather around and watch him draw pictures of ducks flying over water, sunsets and lake scenes.

“I remember one of the assignments was ‘what would you like to do when you grow up?’ ” Ellingson said. He thought he’d either like to be a bum or an artist.

“A bum that would travel around and have nothing and just do whatever or an artist, and that was the two things I thought would be good for me.”

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In his early 20s, he got a job at a frame shop and worked there for six years. Then, he and his wife Lois bought their house at 1412 2nd Ave S. in 1979 and ever since they’ve been running their picture frame shop, The Framer, from the main floor.

Mike Ellingson frames a portrait of Paul McCartney at his shop in south Fargo.
Mike Ellingson frames a portrait of Paul McCartney at his shop in south Fargo.Chris Flynn / Forum New Service

“We’ve framed everything from computer parts, candy bar wrappers, guitars, baptismal gowns, pocket watches and normal stuff like artwork, magazine covers and photographs. Just about anything that means something to anyone we’ll frame,” Ellingson said.

For quite a few years, Ellingson has thought about starting a picture frame school for artists out of his basement. One of the reasons he hasn’t started yet is because whenever he lets someone use his equipment his settings would get messed up.

“It’s like the equipment says don’t let anybody touch me. I won’t be perfect for you anymore.”

Ellingson started thinking he wanted to do videos. “I’m 67 years old and nobody lives forever. There are so many shortcuts and tricks and tips to make a better product that a lot people just don’t know. So, I want to show people, especially artists, how to do things that won’t cost them what it would cost them to have a professional picture framer do it.”

Ellingson said he remembers the days of trying to make a living as an artist.

“You can’t just go in and say, ‘Oh, sure. Here’s $250,’ frame this real nice for them, then cross your fingers and hope someone buys it.”

Ellingson said he has ideas on how to present their work on a budget. “I’m hoping to see what happens with it.”