Kathryn Coers Rossman

Photographer
 
Lisa Frank, All Grown Up
Location: Bloomington, IN, USA
Nationality: American
Biography: Kathryn Coers Rossman (kathryncoersrossman.com, insta: @kathryncoersrossman ) is a photojournalist, conceptual photographer and creative director in Bloomington, IN, USA. She studied modernism, literature and urbanism in graduate school at New... MORE
Public Story
Lisa Frank, All Grown Up
Copyright Kathryn Coers Rossman 2024
Updated Feb 2024
Topics Abstract, Adolescence, Advertising, Affluence, Arts & Entertainment, Business, Capitalism, Celebrity, Conceptual, Corporate, Culture, Documentary, Editorial, Education, Fashion, Feminism, Fine Art, Gender, History, Journalism, Mixed Medium, Personal Projects, Photography, Photojournalism, Portraiture, Still life
Lisa Frank is a prolific but underappreciated artist. She created the aesthetic of an era, but somehow has not been exhibited in our finest museums. It is time for a thoughtful Lisa Frank retrospective.  The lack of recognition Frank has received for her talent as an artist stems from the fact that she is a woman who created art for a largely young feminine audience, and is commercially successful. Her medium — airbrushing an imagined universe densely populated with dolphins and unicorns — is more Florida Kitsch than Art Basel Miami.

Lisa Frank leaned into her corporate identity and mass-produced her art, chasing a profit. She became an American success story, but at what cost?

Lisa Frank’s art is often overlooked. She had a captive audience of young girls unwittingly exposed to her work. In such a way, Frank has become a heritage brand, a product of circumstance, having somehow landed in the right place (school supplies) at the right time (the 1980s) for the right generation (Millennials).

Catering to desk-tethered little girls longing for recess, Frank’s art was about fantasy and escape. Although the sticker-and-school-supply empire was built on paper, plastic and cardboard, Frank’s art was something pre-teen girls could touch and experience. Her compositions were balanced, yet bursting with fantastic characters in lush settings cute, surreal and psychedelic.

Lisa Frank may now be a “nostalgia artist,” valuable only for her “throwback” potential. Some women need their third-grade gumball Trapper Keeper to get back that sweet pre-9/11, pre-Great Recession, pre-Covid feeling.

The company no longer manufactures products, but collaborates regularly with other brands. If indeed the era is over, her two-decade reign was glorious to watch. When in doubt, Lisa Frank always chose boldness. Millennial women reaching middle age would be wise to do the same.

Tribute Themes:

Sensory overload!
Nostalgia, girlhood and overcoming adolescence.
Neon elements are a nod to Vaporwave.  

This tribute emphasizes the importance of tactile interaction with Frank products by prioritizing texture and includes fifty-two individual photographs and nine completed images. No AI. Everything photographed is real and tangible.

Photo collage remake of "I Love to $hop!" explores Frank's relationship to consumer culture.

Lisa Frank is compared to Margaret Keane. Frank realized Japan and anime's ongoing influence on U.S. creativity culture, adopting the “big eye” style in her work from the outset, predating Bratz dolls with her own line of big-eyed ladies.  

Spotify Playlist: https://playlist.sptfy.com/lisafrankallgrownup

Creative Direction Research and Reference Material: https://www.pinterest.com/kathryncoersrossman/lisa-frank-all-grown-up/ 

Credits:

Photography and Creative Direction: Kathryn Coers Rossman (kathryncoersrossman.com, insta: @kathryncoersrossman)
Models: Sarah "Pixie" Conway as Lisa Frank, Celestina Klaye as Mila Kunis, Natalia Almanza, Grace Coleman and Sarah Dai
Photographer's Assistant: Mike Waddell
Inflatables: Scott McIntosh
Wardrobe: Kathryn Coers Rossman. All clothing is thrifted. Key items from @officeclothier.
Location: Bloomington and Ellettsville, Indiana, USA
Developed with mentorship from Ione Gamble and Gina Tonic

Acknowledging the reality of unpaid spousal work, the photographer wishes to highlight the fact that Jacob Rossman, her spouse, is involved in her creative process and assists with edits of text.

Because this is a project about a female artist by a female artist, the photographer wants to acknowledge the photographers who inspired her during this project. All are women currently working as conceptual photographers. The tribute’s borders were inspired by Katie Linsky Shaw’s “Member of the Sandwich Generation.” Elizabeth Renstrom, Alia Ali and Patty Carroll’s work are a constant influence. Kathryn receives incredible mentorship from the editors of Polyester magazine and always feels supported by the Polyester community. Kathryn attended the PhotoPhlo Photographer/Editor Collaboration Workshop receiving helpful guidance from Elinor Carucci just prior to embarking on this project. Visura is the woman-led visual storytelling platform where Kathryn develops her work. The photographer is a member of the FAR Center for Contemporary Arts Photo Review and Bloomington Photography Club where she is supported by dozens of dazzling female artists.

Fair Use:

This tribute aims to honor Lisa Frank's impact, explore her era and show what Lisa Frank meant to those who consumed her art. Although this project is a tribute to Lisa Frank, the photographer understood that she must not simply display Lisa Frank's art and products. Although some photographs of original Lisa Frank advertising text have been used, all such items have received significant creative alteration to serve the project’s ironic and satirical themes.

All Images © 2023 Kathryn Coers Rossman All Rights Reserved. Please do not save, share or distribute without permission.
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Lisa Frank, All Grown Up by Kathryn Coers Rossman
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