My assistant Rico and I are downtown this morning in Atlanta’s original commercial district, the historic Farlie Poplar. We are here to meet an already fairly popular up-and-comer in the ever-burgeoning ATL art scene, PaperFrank. After only three public shows, this 20-year-old visual artist is literally on the cusp of explosion.
Back in the big city since 2009 from a stint in Asheville, another hot Southeastern art hub, Atlanta-native PaperFrank may currently be best known for his sticker asking: You Mad?! – with the “o” appearing as a less-than-pleased toothy bunny.
Strolling the urban core of the city together heading South, Frank says, “I was graduating high school and heard from my guidance counselor about Miya Bailey, who’d also graduated from Asheville High School. I came down to his tattoo shop in Atlanta looking for work, and he turned me away. I always liked graphic T-shirts, so my best friend and I started a clothing line called Paper in early 2009, looking to support myself.”
That clothing line’s website is: www.simpleaspaper.com and new designs should be available soon, though Frank admits he hasn’t updated the site in a while. He’s been too focused on learning the tattoo trade as an apprentice, but also a “natural.”
I ask about his blossoming career as a painter, and he responds: “In Asheville, I was drawing but not really doing art like that. I moved to Asheville in 9th grade, and I’d win scholastic awards and the class superlatives for most creative. Then I realized I needed to capitalize on my talents and started painting and doing graphic design a year ago.”
Now, we’ve reached the post office, where Frank is mailing a painting purchased off www.PaperFrank.com yesterday to Maryland. “Drugs-Money-Crazy-Insanity” subtle in black-on-black of background, while pretty brunette with swooshing arm draws with crayon a pink and white bunny with a knowing grin. It’s lovely.
Over half his audience is out-of-state currently, but he also has a strong local following. His first solo show at the New Era Flagship Store downtown finally drew the attention of fellow alum Miya Bailey, who better-late-than-never hit Frank on Twitter and inked him as a tattoo apprentice at City of Ink in the artsy Castleberry Hill section of Atlanta. PaperFrank’s second show was held at the tattoo parlor, announcing he’d joined the team. His third show was at the fabled Apache Cafe’ in South Midtown. Remarkably, he sold out of paintings at all three.
CBD – the central business district is suddenly and inexplicably flooded with hundreds of corporate types, prompting a postal worker to say to us in her sweet voice: “They are having a block party, and we weren’t invited.”
Some artists, like PaperFrank, create their own art world invitations. Watch him!
This artist profile and much more in the new issue of Art Nouveau Magazine, via Magcloud.