TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Franchesco!: People refer to my artwork as “pin-up,” which is perfectly fine by me. Most folks associate that term with vintage images of beautiful women… so that’s winning as far as I’m concerned.
Plus in comic books, pin-ups are considered full-page illustrations, inside the issue (not the cover itself). I’ve always enjoyed full-page illustrations, as opposed to sequential art. That’s not to say I don’t like sequential art, just that I enjoy the big beautiful splashy images most of all. So why not do “that thing” all day, every day!
TrunkSpace: What is the earliest memory you have of applying your talent of art in the creation of a particular drawing or picture?
Franchesco!: The earliest recollection I have is when I would draw all kinds of trees… no leaves or anything, just the trunks and branches… not sure why, but yeah. (Laughter) Tons of trees, go figure. Wishing I had at least one of those tree sketches today. Weird that I can remember that, now that I think about it. Great question! I do have some images stored in the Fresco Vaults that are from when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. I should scan those up one of these days. Just for kicks.
TrunkSpace: Did kids/peers you grew up with also recognize your talent as an artist and ask you to draw things for them?
Franchesco!: I would get a lot of attention from people around me when I drew stuff, so I would do more of it.
I recall in grade school, drawing a “rose” for a girl in my class. Her friends saw it and they wanted one too… I was like a rose drawing machine that day… but I didn’t mind… it made them happy, so I was happy to do it. It got so that I could draw roses from memory, so it made folks even more impressed. But like anything, we do it long enough, it becomes second nature. More of a parlor trick, than anything else… but it made them smile… so that can’t be a bad thing. I still enjoy making people happy with my humble parlor tricks.
TrunkSpace: Now, as an adult, people are asking you to draw things for them all of the time and, you get to make money doing it! What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Franchesco!: Surprisingly enough… I don’t get a lot of crazy requests. I either have very well-adjusted folks asking me for stuff… or I have a very high tolerance for crazy, that it feels normal to me. Not sure which, but I do have really awesome patrons.
TrunkSpace: You have a knack for drawing gorgeous, sexy women. What is the key to translating sexiness to the page? As the creator of these pieces, what is it that you set out to achieve?
Franchesco!: It’s never been a goal of mine, to do “sexy.” I guess it’s like when I used to draw those roses for all the girls in my class… it’s what people responded to, so I would do more of “that” thing. Turns out that pretty girls is what folks seem to respond to the most these days. I enjoy drawing pretty much everything and anything… but like they say… “Let Them Eat Cake!” Or cheesecake, because that’s how I roll.
I’m guessing at this point, I would have to work hard at “not” being sexy… because it’s just how I do it, how it feels the most natural for me. I never tried to “be sexy.” Not sure I have it in me to be un-sexy. Bow-Chicka-Bow-Wow!!
Just recently I was commissioned to do a cover, and we went through the whole process… concept, sketches, blah, blah, blah… and I did a little extra doodle of sorts, that might be used as a variant, as an aside, featuring a beautiful woman… and everyone who saw it said “THAT” is what the cover should be, not the one we had completed. So we switched gears and went with the pretty girl instead. So yeah… it is what it is, not that I’m complaining.
TrunkSpace: In looking at your body of work, we notice a theme of going back to classic pin-up style icons like Betty Page and Marilyn Monroe. What is it about those particular women and that particular time period that ignites a creative spark?
Franchesco!: Not sure what it is, and that’s probably the answer… the thing that we can’t put our finger on… that “X-factor”… they both had that… by the tons.
TrunkSpace: Another set of themes we notice in your work are thigh high stockings and heels… once again, a classic pin-up style look. How important is that outfit selection in creating your work and what does that process look like? Do you research a look? Will you alter an outfit after the fact if you’re not happy with the results?
Franchesco!: I have a love-hate relationship with my art. I hate it when I’m working on it… because I want it to be “better,” whatever that means. Never feels like I’m quite good enough. It’s only after I have the benefit of the passage of time that I can look at my stuff with a less critical eye. Having said that, I still look at the stuff and think of all the things I would probably change… to make it “better.” So yes, I’m constantly making changes, hopefully for the better. And yes, its pretty important… especially when it comes to pin-ups… nothing is more of a downer, when someone can’t get the stuff right. Putting clunky clown shoes on a sexy woman instead of a pair of sleek stilettos just looks wrong… although, now that I think about it… I really wanna draw a sexy babe wearing clown shoes now… and nothing else. Just to see if I can make it work.
TrunkSpace: Is there one piece of work you’ve done in your career that you are the most proud of, or, are they all like children and it’s impossible to pick a favorite?
Franchesco!: I love them all, but the one piece I’m most proud of… is the one I happen to be working on, at any given time. I really enjoy the creative process… and tend to cherish it more than I probably should, which is why working on monthly comics are no longer attractive to me. It’s such a fast-paced process, generally super rushed, forcing far too many compromises… requiring letting go of the piece way too soon. I have gotten to a point where I know when to say when. So I hate to let a piece go off to press until that achievement has been unlocked.
TrunkSpace: Has technology altered how you approach your work at all?
Franchesco!: 100 percent yes. When I first started, there was no “traditional” term used, when creating art. You either drew it with actual pigment on actual paper or canvas or whatever, or you didn’t. Now that we have digital means of creating art… I enjoy incorporating more and more of that into my process. Digital plays heavily in my work these days, but I still enjoy creating the line art traditionally… for no other reason, because I still can. Plus there is something special about the idea of “Original Art.” There can be only one. Digital art allows us to spit out beautiful/flawless prints all day every day of the same image. But because of that very fact… its no way near as special… as one and only one piece of art, that exists in traditional format.
There are millions of images of the Mona Lisa in this world… but… there is only one that constantly draws massive crowds, being displayed under bulletproof glass in Paris, France. The one we believe to be the original painting created by the artist’s own hand.
So, even if we are creating digital images with our own hand… there is still that disconnect… it’s not quite as tactile as when we hold an original piece that was not only constructed by, but was held by its creator.
TrunkSpace: Songwriters are always said to have “voices,” and not in the physical sense. They find their voice when their art becomes inherently theirs. Do artists have voices and if so, do you believe that you have found yours?
Franchesco!: Great question. (They are all great questions actually.) Not sure if I’ve found my voice yet, but I’m having all kinds of fun making it up as I’m humming along. Not sure what the future holds… but it looks bright. I can’t wait to get the images swimming around in my head, onto a sheet of Bristol board… so everyone else can see them as well.
TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2017?
Franchesco!: The folks who follow me on my Patreon and I… are creating a really fun project I’m really passionate about. The plan is, that once we’re all done with it… we take it to Kickstarter and share it with the rest of the world. Crowdfunding has become a great new way for creators to follow their muse, without having to ask permission from others, to make art that day. We’ve all had to sing for our supper as artists in some way… and sometimes, we may not like the music that is being played… but we don’t enjoy starving… so we sing that song… even if it’s not a personal favorite. With Patreon, my followers are allowing me the luxury of doing that very thing that makes my heart sing… without having to worry about putting food on my table and a roof over my head. And that’s a very beautiful thing… most beautiful indeed. I love my Patreon family so much… because with their generous support, I get to make more art!!