I'm partially convinced that Abby Frank doesn't exist. It seems more logical that she is actually a Saturday Morning Cartoon character in the avatar of human skin wearing purple (or floral) Doc Martens and casting spells on her vintage shop mannequins and customers alike. Full of quiet surprises and delightful quips, even her name sounds as if she casually hopped out of the television screen one night and snuck off into the real world to go on adventures. She has this mystical quality and a sharp mind, which makes for a quick sense of humor to compliment her cool but bashful sweetness.
All of the above are strong components of her creativity, but her confidence is what shows up in her work the most. She doesn't hide her ability to genuinely be playful.
Especially when you take a look of the entire body of what she does. The mediums she gravitates to are on either end of the spectrum. On one hand she is using oil, the medium of the Renaissance, and on the other, she has doodles and digital drawings (a shining example of efficiency and technology in our modern world).
Through both mediums, she is unequivocally herself. Vibrant and soft, full of life and curiosity while maintaining grace and subtly.
If you take a look at her Digital Drawings page on her website, at first it might look like lighthearted exploration, testing the waters of the medium, but in many of the pictures, there is also treasure maps of her paintings. The oil paint shapes and veins that look so intertwined and life like are laid out in a beautifully a digital simple form. Those stylized shapes and textures make their way through all of her means of expression, Whether its peeking through in the texture she weaves into her paint, or on display in her illustrations. Not to mention her post it doodles, patches and character cards.
Personally, her paintings are what pull on me the most.
Do you ever hear a song and think " They get me. This person took my situation (heart, mind, ect) and captured it" That's how I feel about what she creates with paint. As if she has a microscope on what my insides look like and is somehow able to turn this aspect of me inside out and put it on a canvas. I often do work based off of what I see on the backs of my eyelids and her work looks awfully similar to my inward image. I see shapes and textures of biology and yet a link to something cosmic and fanciful.
Which is why I wanted to hear her words. A part of me could go on forever, diving into all the details of her work and personality that I delight in but instead I'll leave it at this.
Abby is an unapologetically strange and beautiful soul and I'm so glad she is open to sharing herself. So until you're meandering through the streets of Calgary and stumble across a vintage shop (I imagine she may be hiding among the fur coats wearing massive 70's sunglasses), her words will have to tide you over.
1. What is art?
If not life itself, art is a strategy of being! A result of processing and interpreting the world and our place in it. I guess it's also whatever you make it to be, sometimes I'll put a frame around a doodle that took me seconds to make and voila, a finished masterpiece!
2. What is the medium that you are most comfortable expressing yourself with?
Probably oil paint, because for me much of my inspiration comes from the paint itself, all the colors and textures, the possibilities! I don't require a plan or direction, largely in part because the oil takes forever to dry so instead of painting over what I'm not liking, I add to it, blend in a new color, or scrape it away. It's the perfect medium for someone who likes to change their mind, a lot. In terms of physical comfort though, drawing with my stylus and ipad has been a revelation, you can start over as many times as possible without wasting any paper! And you don't have to scan hard copies! It's the most wonderful thing, next to actual pen and paper of course..
3. Is there a phase or period of time in your life where you feel you were the most creative?
I think I've always been pretty steadily creative, maybe more so back in the college art studio days, but I've never been more motivated than I am now in terms of thinking of new ways to adapt my paintings and drawings beyond hanging them on a wall. I have some big ideas and really fun projects to work on, and I can't think of a better time or place then where I am now to make it happen.
4. If you had to pick a blanket emotion or idea that you felt was the motivation behind the work you do, what would it be?
My work is inspired by nature -aquatic life, cells, insects, magical plants, microscopic worlds, cosmology...as well as stories, objects, characters and situations, and just things I find hilarious or interesting or beautiful. I guess you could say most of my art comes from a place of joy though, in most cases at least!
5. What does a regular morning look like for you?
It starts with a pretty drawn out routine of grooming, tea drinking, and a big breakfast. There is usually some kind of Netflix on in the background for comfort and entertainment reasons. I'll make a list or two. Then I walk to work, usually stopping in the park on the way to examine the frozen plants and watch the squirrels.
6. Describe your work space/studio environment.
When it's in full swing, it looks like a cross between a mad scientist's laboratory and a kindergarten classroom. Lots of scribbled notes, loose papers, pictures taped to the wall, stacks of books, various tiny knick knacks, crayons spilling out of places...when I have things in order tho it can really be quite organized and lovely. My boyfriend is a very patient person.
7. How does your creativity play into and effect your day to day life?
I work at a vintage shop so I spend a lot of time making displays and dressing mannequins. It's a kind of set design, making scenes and changing the environment or mood with objects and clothing. I also love all of the eccentric characters that come into the shop regularly, and am actually working on a series of illustrations based on them right now!
8. If you had to be a mythical creature, what would you be and why?
Fairy was my first thought, for obvious reasons, but after some serious deliberation I decided that if I "had" to be mythical creature it would be a Phoenix. They just always seem to glide in when you least expect it but when you need them most. They are bright and colorful and powerful but underestimated and quiet in many ways, an interesting contradiction. Not to mention the whole healing tears, Harry Potter, rebirth thing.. Sold!
9. What has been your biggest struggle as an Artist?
It's definitely a challenge for me to focus on one project at a time, if I don't set up some kind of system to work within I'll just stay in the idea phase and take forever to finish. I also struggle with being my own manager, I'm like the chillest boss ever, and that doesn't always get results!
10. Do you have goals or ideas as to where you would like to be creatively in the future? /How do you see yourself evolving?
I want to collaborate with artists, designers, entrepreneurs, musicians, etc. to help produce work that is multifaceted and interdisciplinary. To make amazing things and never stop! I would love to see my paintings and drawings adapted into textiles, wall murals, sculpture, animation, you name it.
What band/musician are you really digging right now?
I'm pretty stoked on Missy Elliot right now, she's back!
If you are wanting to purchase any of her work, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org
For daily doodles and illustrations, check out her tumblr and instagram.
Otherwise, do give your eyes the pleasure of seeing her work on her website www.abbyfrank.com and hopefully up on your walls.
Thank you to Abby for putting your enchanted mind out into the world for us to revel in. I'm so genuinely excited to see what you have brewing.