Before her signature designs became the desired school-supply motif of children the world over, Lisa Frank was just another artist with Pop Art influences and fancy art-school training. In a great and rare interview with Foundations, Frank discusses her career beginnings and shares examples of the early, colorful, acrylic paintings that were the hallmark of her PD (pre-dolphin) period.
Lisa Frank scholars can spot some themes that would emerge more fully in her later work: most notably, a fearless use of color. Only after learning to balance the purity of her artistic practice with her desire for commercial success did she decide to experiment with a stable of mythical beasts, cute mammals, and other appealing creatures that might visit you during an acid trip. “At first I didn’t want to do unicorns,” she explained to Foundations. “The artist in me said no. Then I thought, wait a minute, this is commercial art. Let’s do what’s going to sell. So that’s how that happened.”
And that is how she realized she could make a crapload of money if she just embraced unicorns and butterflies and never looked back.