Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lisa Frank- Hunter

My terrible secret- this is the artist who basically inspired me to draw when I was a kid. I can't even tell you how many stickers, stationary sets, stuffed animals, and all kinds of random crap I owned from this artist. This here is a sticker sheet of Hunter, one of her characters. It's inside a journal that is also a pop-up book, and like all of her products it's marketed for preteen girls. Lisa Frank really marketed her art well to kids- it's extremely vibrant, cartoonish, and she puts an emphasis on making characters, not just always pretty pictures. There's no cartoon show or anything to go along with the merchandise, but kids still got a sense for who these characters were just by a little blurb on the back of the packaging, or like in this image you see many different poses to describe the way the character might move if it were animated, giving it a sense of personality.

Lisa Frank is a pop artist, and she started her company in the late 70's. According to her girlified website, she creates the basic ideas for different designs and characters, at which point a team of illustrators takes over and draws them in marker. Then there's market research (talking to kids), and plenty of tweaking and redrawing, and then it goes to the computer where the computer painting "takes a long long time." So every part of this process is planned and engineered and calculated specifically to be consistent with the brand, and also to be desirable to kids. When I was growing up, it was pretty much mandatory to have several products of hers in your school supplies. Stickers and school supplies are meant to be used, and therefore disposable, and so you'll need to replace your Lisa Frank stationary set with another one after a while. So on those terms I think their illustrations and the whole corporate art factory is extremely successful. The company still seems to be going strong, so these illustrations still seem to be successful, though I don't know if Lisa Frank stuff is as "necessary" to kids as it once was.


  1. yayy lisa frank! i need to comment. right there with you on being inspired by lisa frank to draw when i was younger. i used to trace my folders to get the style down. and i loved reading all the stories on my lisa frank gear. the characters go along with them and have much personality. i used to try to come up with my own characters and write stories about them. i still buy lisa frank school supplies (hey. no makin fun) because it reminds me of how happy it made me to want to draw when i was little. so they're still getting business from me, because a lisa frank eraser gets me through many art projects (no joke).

  2. Yes! I'm so glad you posted this. Who didn't love the merch back when we were kids? I always enjoyed how colorful the images were and looking back on this, it might explain why my illustrations always have high saturated colors on PS.

    I definitely think that Lisa Frank is not as necessary to kids as it was when we were little. It seems like little girls want to be too grown or are too much in love with Hannah Montana and other Disney stars. I honestly didn't know they still made LF stuff; those pencils with the giant erasers were so cool back in the day. I also didn't know about the process they went through to create their illustrations. I do agree that they were very successful for the intention they had for creating them.

  3. Funny, Last week I was going to do Lisa Frank myself, but changed my mind, happy I did. Yeah, like many, I too started my art skills drawing Lisa Frank, though, I was only five so it wasn’t very good, haha. It’s really interesting to know the steps they take to make the character designs and I just love how these colorful characters are still coming strong today, and that they are coming up with new ones over time. Though, If I remember correctly, the characters use to be only animal based, sure they had some animals in human clothing, but they never have actually people. Not sure when they started coming out with people then. I do think the whole franchise is starting to conform to today’s age with their bright colored girls that remind me of the brats dolls but more colorful to fit with the coloring style they always had. So maybe that’s a step in getting more then just kids to be interested. Though, I still like Lisa Frank, I don’t buy the merchandise anymore however but still look back at the art time to time cause it always got me wanting to draw with bright colors too.

  4. I can't remember any girls in my elementary school that didn't have a piece of her work on a folder or notebook. I remember trying to replicate some of her characters when I was little, but I couldn't get the hang of it at that age. I haven't seen her work lately though, so I wonder if maybe now that the 90s have passed, has her art become out of date and out of print?