This article was reprinted with permission by FOUNDATIONS. Issue 3 is now available for preorder here. Edits were made by Refinery29.
People say never meet your heroes. With this in mind, I was unsure of how wise it would be to reach out to Lisa Frank, whose mysterious, cult-like reputation is both fascinating and intimidating.
Here's some backstory: While I was working at Gavin Brown’s gallery, just after finishing my undergraduate years at the School of Visual Arts, I would watch work by Rob Pruitt pass through that was reminiscent of the Lisa Frank folders of my childhood. This past year, the Frieze fair on Randall’s Island was threaded with a common use of cartoonism in the work of artists like Ed Fornieles, Julia Wachtel, and Matt Kenny. The widespread impulse to relay concepts through avatars seemed significant. Like the video game The Sims, these cartoons exist within technical parallel universes, acting out in ways we wish to, but often do not.
But in the beginning, there was Lisa Frank. As you will see through our conversation at Frank's offices in Tuscon, AZ, she is exactly how you might imagine her to be. She is very much alive, energetic, and hard-working. Like the Sottsass nightstand I discovered in her bedroom, she is of a beautiful design, made of parts that may not correspond to each other, but as a whole, make up something genius. I sat with Frank in her office, surrounded by years’ worth of Technicolor backpacks and sticker books.