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I didn't even know she was a real person.
December 13, 2013 1:01 PM   Subscribe


 
All I could think of when I was reading this yesterday was how sad it made me to learn that most of my favorite Cocteau Twins music was driven by all the coke that Liz Fraser and Robin Guthrie were doing at the time. And that when they got clean, their muse went away.
posted by R. Schlock at 1:05 PM on December 13, 2013


Previously: Lisa Frank is Real
posted by chavenet at 1:09 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always mix up Lisa Frank and that other cutesy Frank empire. The one with the monkeys.
posted by scody at 1:13 PM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I always thought she was a unicorn dolphin.

Scody, you're thinking of Paul Frank.
posted by Fnarf at 1:19 PM on December 13, 2013


Yup, that would be Paul Frank.

Near the building's entrance, a large silver unicorn sculpture is missing its horn

I think unicorns without horns are generally referred to as horses.

And dolphins with a single horn are narwhals.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:19 PM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I distinctly remember Lisa Frank's phantasmagorial imagery inspiring absolute, visceral revulsion in me as an elementary school kid. (I probably wouldn't have used those exact words...)
posted by LSK at 1:21 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think this story was supposed to inspire schadenfreude, or at least prurient interest, but it just makes me sad. From the fading fad product to the bad employee treatment to the shitty husband cheating on her, it's all just sadness.
posted by Nelson at 1:24 PM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I remember reading the diary of Lisa Frank. It wasn't as interesting as I'd heard it was supposed to be, and I was confused why she never sounded like she was in hiding.
posted by delfin at 1:24 PM on December 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


Drugs? At a place that cranked out binders with neon unicorns eating iridescent ice cream cones? The heck you say!
posted by dr_dank at 1:28 PM on December 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


I used to work for a company that consulted to very large family businesses. When you have a successful company owned by an eccentric person who shoots to fame without a lot of planning beforehand, the working conditions tend to be terrible, because the ability to basically print money from your idea without the knowledge of how you got there makes you think that every decision you make is basically the Word of God.
posted by xingcat at 1:29 PM on December 13, 2013 [18 favorites]




I always mix up Lisa Frank and that other cutesy Frank empire. The one with the monkeys.

L. Frank Baum's Oz?
posted by prefpara at 1:29 PM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


First you think: Wow, all that stuff is so over-the-top cutesy that it has to be hiding something ugly. But then you figure that it's made for kids anyway, and for girls besides. You weren't in the target audience even when you were the right age. So you shrug and figure that Lisa Frank is just a company like any other, even if the aesthetic doesn't sit well with you.

And then it turns out that the company was apparently run by a cartoon villain:
(One time, after discovering that someone left the office 10 minutes early, an enraged Green instructed the warehouse manager to put chains and padlocks on all the downstairs doors so that "the staff can't escape.")
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:49 PM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


How guys like Green don't get punched out more often, I don't understand. I mean, these aren't great jobs, and if there's high turnover and everyone in town already warns everyone else not to work there, it's not like there's serious consequences to doing so.

Then again, we're talking people who wanted to design pony-related materials, which is not a design segment that selects for aggression and assertiveness.
posted by fatbird at 2:15 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


all the coke that Liz Fraser and Robin Guthrie were doing at the time. And that when they got clean, their muse went away.

Your theory ignores the fact that Milk and Kisses is in their top five albums, if not the top three or four. To say nothing of their incredible run of B sides collected on the second volume of Lullabies to Violaine.
posted by mykescipark at 2:21 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Then again, we're talking people who wanted to design pony-related materials, which is not a design segment that selects for aggression and assertiveness.

Not from what I have seen.
posted by JHarris at 2:29 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Between this and reading about the crazy woman running Archie comics, my childhood is basically ruined.
posted by medeine at 2:30 PM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Then again, we're talking people who wanted to design pony-related materials, which is not a design segment that selects for aggression and assertiveness.

1. No artist "wants" to design pony-related materials. An artist wants to work. Period. If it's neon ponies, you design neon ponies. If it's orange cats, you design orange cats. It's a job. At the time, getting a job with LF would have looked fucking fantastic on a resume.

2. Working in the licensed character field (which includes LF) is big business, and you will be run over without some amount of assertiveness in your bag. To use an ancient term, it's commercial art. It's a factory. The artists working in the field understand this fact.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:42 PM on December 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


How are there not tons of Lisa/Paul Frank mashups available at the click of a mouse? Am I the only person who would be interested in this? That is shocking to me.

Of course, this is the most depressing thing in the article.

But the halcyon days of dayglo pandas and the stationery gravy train are seemingly over

We, like Lisa Frank Inc., didn't know how good we had it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:44 PM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


How guys like Green don't get punched out more often, I don't understand.

I think I've said this about mouthy politicians or political commentators before on here, but I will again -- while "how is that person not punched more often?" isn't the definition of what people call "privilege", it is a big old signifier of it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:49 PM on December 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


How guys like Green don't get punched out more often, I don't understand.

I wonder about this every time I see a show like Kitchen Nightmares. How Gordon Ramsay hasn't been laid-out by an angry cook armed with an iron skillet is beyond me.
Treating people like shit in an art studio isn't a smart move, really. We're armed with extremely sharp knives. And we regularly practice throwing them for accuracy.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:08 PM on December 13, 2013


... Because Ramsey's show is all pretend? And because Ramsey would probably punch back?
posted by leotrotsky at 4:33 PM on December 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Years ago, I was an illustrator for a greeting card company. It was the most soul-crushing job I've ever had.
posted by Mcable at 4:38 PM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh man, I had no idea the Lisa Frank headquarters were located in Tuscon, AZ. I have a really fuzzy memory of visiting an actual Lisa Frank store as a kid when visiting AZ and thinking it was FREAKING FANTASTIC.

I still wish I had my Lisa Frank stickers and Trapper Keeper.
posted by littlesq at 5:17 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mcable: "Years ago, I was an illustrator for a greeting card company. It was the most soul-crushing job I've ever had".

Was your experience similar to this?
posted by littlesq at 5:19 PM on December 13, 2013


Somehow, despite being about the right age, the Lisa Frank heyday passed me by. I don't think I even noticed her stuff, ever, until I saw folders for sale in Walgreens in the mid to late 1990s.

But I live in Tucson and have heard the horror stories from multiple friends! Nothing to add to the stories in the Jezebel article except to say yeah, that sounds accurate to what you hear around town.
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:38 PM on December 13, 2013


I also recall thinking Lisa Frank stuff was especially creepy - not necessarily because it was rainbows and unicorns and that, but because it did seem like there was something weirdly sinister and insincere behind it. Like it was "FUN!" and "CUTE!" but not really fun and cute. The working conditions explain a lot.


When I read the article last night, I thought "It sounds like working at Lisa Frank would be almost exactly like fifth, sixth, and seventh grade."
posted by louche mustachio at 5:41 PM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Holy crap, she's got some Bachmann eyes.
posted by FatherDagon at 5:54 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once she had her children—Hunter and Forrest, who were named after two characters in Lisa Frank's multi-chromatic menagerie (a leopard cub and a tiger cub, respectively)

Wait wait wait...does this mean...are her kids are named Hunter and Forrest Green?
posted by kickingthecrap at 5:59 PM on December 13, 2013 [16 favorites]


When I was in school for graphic design, one of the instructors told us that you didn't want to work at Lisa Frank. I live not far from their warehouse, and the giant hearts and stars on the side of the building always struck me as odd, especially now that the company is barely there anymore.
posted by azpenguin at 6:38 PM on December 13, 2013


I always thought Lisa Frank stuff was as ugly as homemade sin.

Turns out I wasn't far from the mark, huh?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:09 PM on December 13, 2013


I always mix up Lisa Frank and that other cutesy Frank empire. The one with the monkeys.
L. Frank Baum's Oz?
Oh wow can someone go retcon reality so that the "L" stands for "Lisa" here?

Because I would read the shit out of the works of Lisa Frank Baum. Or if not "read" then "watch" or "buy" or "wear" or "snort" or whatever the appropriate verb is for enjoying it with.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 7:11 PM on December 13, 2013 [6 favorites]




I just brought a cheap rainbow-colored Lisa Frank dry-erase board from Five Below to a white-elephant party tonight. It had a lot of sea creatures on it, which helped complete my gift bag's underwater theme (plus, hey, Lisa Frank! nostalgia!). I was surprised to find Lisa Frank stuff at a dollar store, but this makes that make a lot of sense.
posted by limeonaire at 8:58 PM on December 13, 2013


So I Checked out James Green's jameschristiamman.com website, and I have to say I'm not entirely sure I'm able to take this person seriously.
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 9:07 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, somebody seems to have a grudge. That was a really weird hatchet job, even if a lot of it is true.
posted by bongo_x at 11:27 PM on December 13, 2013


Lisa Frank: master alchemist
posted by telstar at 2:20 AM on December 14, 2013


There is a bit of annoying writing in the article I'd like to point out:

"In my own little way, I understood Michael Jackson," Frank said in a 2012 interview with The Daily, intimating that her own level of fame is in some way comparable to that of the late King of Pop and has thus affected how she interacts with the public.

Actually I don't think that's necessarily the case. She did say "in my own little way," after all.

That she believes she can comprehend or relate to what life was like for the most famous entertainer of all time—who was notoriously viewed as a victim of his own celebrity—is confounding. But it also provides an illuminating peek into the mogul's mindset.

I don't know. Jackson wasn't divine in any way. I think we all can comprehend at least some of what he was going through. That he reacted to it in such a manner, that's what's more difficult to imagine, but still not impossible perhaps, and it's not meet to grasp at straws to make her out to be any more of a villain. People are complicated, and there's good and bad in most of us.
posted by JHarris at 2:31 AM on December 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the part that Jharris highlights bothered me, along with the part where they lingered on her weight. Hate her all you want for being a shitty boss, but hating on Frank for something that is most likely due to illness is just gross.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:56 AM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, the article isn't so much about Lisa Frank as how someone called Tracie Egan Morrissey doesn't like Lisa Frank very much.
posted by Grangousier at 4:32 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


My friend that worked at the company verifies this story and remarked that it seemed rather kind and sympathetic compared to the day-to-day realities of being employed by LFI in Tucson. Then her and another former employee got into a long exchange mentioning events using in-house short-hand and key words ("Remember Bob and the tree? Where you there when Kim insisted?) I get the impression Lisa Frank and James Green aren't very likeable.

My daughters loved Lisa Frank stuff throughout their youth in the 1990s. My eyeballs always burned from the garishness but there were still Trapper Keepers, stationary, and stickers all over their room. (I was always reminded of art by schizophrenics when looking at the designs, very cutesy schizophrenics.)
posted by _paegan_ at 10:50 AM on December 14, 2013


Game of Thrones house sigils redone Lisa Frank style
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:18 AM on January 11


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