Check Out the Shocking Early Work of Lisa Frank
If you’re anything like us, you probably spent your senior year of high school sticking adhesive rhinestones on your face, listening to 90’s pop music and lugging around a backpack stuffed with school supplies, all designed by the one and only Lisa Frank. But what was Lisa Frank doing in high school?
Frank never gives interviews, and before now, little was known about her early life. But Frank talked to artist Carly Mark for the upcoming issue of Foundations, revealing that in her senior year, she was already making art, and already making a lot of money from it.
Frank’s early paintings are like her modern-day drawings on drugs. From of the look of them, you’d never even guess that she was the artist. No big eyes or rainbow butterflies, just splashes of trippy, drippy colors melting into each other. It’s stuff you’d be more likely to see in a Chelsea gallery than on a middle school locker.
So why the switch from fine to commercial art? ‘In college, I had to support myself,’ Frank told Foundations. ‘I went to the Indian Reservations. I would sell their art and jewelry…. I would later tell them what to make and realized that everything I told them, versus what they wanted to make on their own, sold. A light bulb went on. I thought, “Oh, I guess I have a really commercial sense.”’
The interview is long and incredibly comprehensive, covering Frank’s beginnings as an entrepreneur and an artist, the people and places that influenced her the most, and the secret to her brand’s ubiquitousness and lasting success. The full issue of Foundations will be released on September 19th at MoMA PS1, as part of Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair, but you can pre-order it here.
We love glittery tiger folders and magic unicorn pencils as much as the next person, but we’d love to see Lisa Frank take a new direction with her art, to explore the weirder, more vague corners of her wild mind.
Images via Foundations