ST. GEORGE — From winning accolades in watercolor to crafting souvenir products for Guam, this museum-quality framer is proving that the art of creation doesn’t have to be narrowed down to just one type.

Artist Travis Humphreys stands next to his framed art inside Red Cliffs Gallery in St. George, Utah, Feb. 27, 2024 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

“We mill our own wood,” Travis Humphreys said about his framing business. “It’s just grown into hundreds of artists and now we do national names. We’ve probably framed over 40 originals by Maynard Dixon, some by C.M. Russell, Joseph Sharp —  just big-name artists.”

Humphreys has been painting landscapes for over 40 years. Now a Cedar City resident, he grew up in Arizona with an artistic family. His mother was an artist and a clothing designer who actively encouraged her children to express their own creativity. They always had clay, crayons, paint, colored pencils and other art supplies at their disposal.

“We didn’t have a fireplace at our house in Arizona,” he said. “I remember we designed one out of cardboard. We painted every brick and made the whole entire fireplace and put it on the wall for Christmas.”

Humphreys’ uncle is also a professional artist. At 13, Humphreys remembers watching his show at the George Phippen Memorial Art Show located on the courthouse grounds in Prescott, Arizona.

A landscape painting and custom frame by Travis Humphreys is pictured | Photo courtesy of Travis Humphreys, St. George News

“It was massive energy back in the 70s,” he said. “And he’d sell out in five minutes. Literally. People would almost fistfight to get his paintings.”

Seeing the energy and demand and knowing his talents, the experience inspired him to pursue an art career of his own. Through high school, he focused on watercolor painting and won many awards. He had the opportunity to showcase his first piece of art at a gallery in Wickenburg in 1988.

Fresh out of high school he entered the George Phippen art show in 1988 and 1989 and won second place in watercolor both years. The regional show included artist jurors Ray Swanson and David Halbach.

He went on to win a Board of Regents’ full-ride scholarship from the University of Arizona. But when he realized his friends weren’t attending the same school, he ditched the scholarship and chose to attend Brigham Young University. During that time, his work was displayed in galleries in Park City. He took a job at a master framing company in Springville where he learned high-end art framing.

Unsure of what path to take next, his father was living in Guam at the time and suggested Humphreys start making duty-free souvenir products for Japanese tourists coming to Guam. He began making prototypes of fridge magnets, keychains and other trinkets. Before he knew it, he had an order for almost $25,000.

A landscape painting by Travis Humphreys is pictured | Photo courtesy of Travis Humphreys, St. George News

“That was a shock,” he said. “ I mean, we were handmaking these things out of our kitchen. But we fulfilled the entire order, drove it over and put it on a cargo ship in Los Angeles.”

After two orders, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit Guam, and the souvenir business went belly-up. He and his family drove up the California coast, leaving samples of souvenir items at businesses along the way. A San Francisco company that provided products for Las Vegas and other touristy areas wanted in. For about a decade, he, his wife and their four sons made fridge magnets for Disney World, MGM, Caesars Palace and more.

“We had one of the top 10 refrigerator magnets on the strip,” he said. “Our top one was a sunshine with sunglasses with hand-lettered Las Vegas. They’re bright and beautiful and airbrushed and just really cool.”

The family was hand-making around 400 magnets a week before 9/11 wrecked international tourism enough to put them out of business. During that time, they built a shop on their property and Humphreys dived back into creating his own paintings. Over the years, he switched from watercolor to acrylic then acrylic to gouache. He went from gouache to oil painting, which he still does today.

“Art is a feast and famine kind of thing,” he said. “At one gallery, I sold nine paintings in one day,” he said. “But art is a feast and famine kind of thing.”

Artwork by Travis Humphreys hangs inside Red Cliffs Gallery in St. George, Utah, Feb. 27, 2024 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

While he had already been custom framing his art and helping out fellow artist friends, he focused on growing his framing business to support his family. Together, the family turned their home shop into a frame production facility, running under the name Gold River Gallery.

“There’s such a high need for what we do and very few people that can do it anymore,” he said about museum-quality framing. “It’s meant to still look like that in 200 years and designed specifically for the artwork.”

Exclusively by appointment, he also reaches workshops on how to frame and has taught visitors from Chicago to Montana. Every time he completes a frame job, he rewards himself by getting to paint. The inspiration behind most of his artwork? Water. As a fisherman who lives in the desert, he’s drawn to all types of water sources from streams to lakes and rivers.

“I just love the land,” he said. “I’ve been an outdoor kid ever since I was little. We’d spend the whole day roaming the countryside then come back for dinner.”

Humphreys aims to transition to full-time painting as his primary occupation. His ambition is fueled by a desire to immerse himself fully in his artistic pursuits and to further develop his skills and creative expression. He hopes to share his passion for the natural world through his artwork and to inspire others with his interpretations of landscapes and outdoor scenes.

Passionate about enhancing and fostering the art community in Cedar City, he looks forward to organizing additional art exhibitions in the future, aiming to provide platforms for local artists to showcase their talents.

Humphreys, along with his mother and uncle, showcase miniature paintings inside the Seaside Art Gallery in Nags Head, North Carolina. Locally, you can explore Humphreys’ artwork inside the Red Cliff Gallery. For more information, visit his website. Contact him at

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