2019 Best seller Franko in his studio

An Interview with Bluethumb’s Best Seller of 2019

Just under two years ago, the Bluethumb team met the man behind the mysterious moniker Franko. The alias of Paul Franklin became synonymous with colour and texture within predominantly abstract and pop-themed artwork. In our last interview, multi-disciplinary artist Franko took us through his journey from graphic designer to an emerging, unequivocally experimental artist. Since then, Franko has become one of the most prolific names on Bluethumb. As our best seller of 2019, this year has been testament to his achievements as an artist.

Ocean Series by Franko

On the easel in Franko’s studio is Oceanic Ripple, part of his abstract oceanic series. “I’m very much enjoying this series. Perhaps the greatest change, or lesson learnt in some of those pieces is that sometimes more is less. I have always painted by the mantra with abstracts that it’s often what you take away, rather than add, that has the most impact. At the moment with a lot of pieces, I am not adding anything at all.”

Franko has spent almost a decade creating art that customarily explores various realms of abstraction and pop art. Consequently, he is constantly discovering from the process of production. “As an artist that has been full-time for nine years, I’ve enjoyed some success along the way. It suggests that things are, in some way, improving,” Franko smiles. “I find more often than not, it will be mistakes and experimentation that takes things to a different place. To me, my work is ever evolving and constantly changing. I am learning more about how atmospheric conditions alter the look, expectations and work flow of particularly my abstracts. It’s taken me a long time to work out that I can only achieve certain looks with my abstracts over cold winter nights, and of course the vice versa applies too with summer.”

Since Franko’s way into art started from experimenting with the walls of his ‘renovator’ years ago, an undulating common factor of his work has been sheer size. “I have always painted huge pieces. Perhaps a slight change in direction for me has also been in the pursuance of ever larger and larger scale works available as completed works, rather than only commissioned.”

Can you guess whose headpiece this is? Franko gives his own layered take on one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century.

While many artists use art as a means of social commentary, or invoke complex and deep emotion as a muse for painting, Franko’s primary concern is working with what’s happy and fun. “I always say that I paint mechanically. Influences? No, not really. Milestones? Oh yes. This year was my 9th as a full-time artist, and record sales in volume and value. Being the the Number 1 best selling artist on Bluethumb this year is up there too! Being chosen for 2 apartments on The Block this year was also a lovely experience, including winners Tess and Luke. I love what I do, and the ’emotional context’ comes from that. I work huge days, but I am still excited to walk into (or fall asleep in) my studio every day.”

Franko at work

Franko putting the final touches on his latest Geisha piece, Rubine Kanzashi, part of his  hugely popular Book Club series.

“This is also going to sound super weird, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually met anybody else that painted for a living. I really enjoyed that. It was wonderful to swap stories about many things that this crazy life throws up. Us artists – we all have so many things in common, regardless of the level we are at. For me, I struggle mentally and emotionally with many parts of the journey. Whilst I have generally always enjoyed my own company, the huge amounts of time that the brush is doing its thing and the mind is free to wander is often not a positive thing. I didn’t realise that I was actually a bit loopy until some things started to go off the rails last year with a few things in my family life. I most definitely suffer from bouts of depression and anxiety. I haven’t cut my ears off yet,” Franko jokes, “but it’s been a learning experience. I now have a greater appreciation for the power of the mind, and have greater empathy for people that have much bigger obstacles than me.”

Might Vegemite by Franko

“This industrial piece, Mighty Vegemite, is coated with my new Concrete formula and troweled to a thickness of approx 10mm (including the edges). It weighs a little more than a standard canvas and all up is about 10kg. But the look on wall is basically a 45mm thick slab. It is permanent and sticks like the proverbial.”

Of a career that has spanned over several years, Franko’s time on Bluethumb has been just a part of the journey. He identifies himself as an entrepreneur at heart who “loves to paint and to ‘business'”. “Since joining BT, I have most enjoyed being part of a highly successful brand with like minded business people. So it’s actually the personal interaction that has meant the most to me – having support and being able to talk to people that are incredibly driven and rowing in the same direction as me.”

One of Franko’s most recent works sends Miffy into space!

As Franko is soon to move into a decade as an artist, his hopes for the future only seem natural from his current trajectory. “As Bob Ross would call them, more and more ‘happy mistakes’ on larger and larger pieces of art. I guess that will mean bigger and bigger mistakes too.”

Much like his pieces, Franko’s approach to art involves working with all things business in volume. “I tend to bulk everything. I’ll reply in bulk to enquiries, despatch paintings with my beautiful wife Wendy in bulk, reply to socials in bulk and I also holiday in bulk. So whilst I will have no days off for 6 months or more, I’ll take 2 months off at one time and travel slowly.”

Stating himself as no longer a spring chicken with his youngest just finishing school (to which Franko exclaims, “I cannot find the words to explain my joy over this… this comes close: FUCK YES!”) there are a few thing waiting to get crossed off his bucket list, meaning that in this respect, 2020 will see change. “I reckon I have 15 ‘good years’ left to do all the heavy lifting – and I have some other itches that need scratching. How will I find balance? No idea. Some people say, ‘I’m living my best life.’ Well, I am still trying to work out how to do that. This year, I hope to ‘unfuck’ myself. Again,” Franko cheekily explains.

Franko with a signature large abstract

“Layer upon layer of yumminess.” Coastal Rain encapsulates all of Franko’s renowned techniques – not to mention the size!

What advice would a best seller give to someone who wants to pursue having an artistic career? Franko emphasises that everything is individual and relative. “I am not one that believes you have to ‘suffer for your craft’ and have a very open and free approach to being an artist. Client satisfaction defines success to me, other things define success to others, such as an award or peer recognition… or the number of followers on their social networks. It’s not an easy journey being an artist and finding your little niche. It can take a long time to ‘pay your dues’ and find success. I think doing anything as a creative full time is a lot of people’s dream career… and there are many routes you can take to get there. Regardless which route, I believe work ethic is king. For me, that has been working 100 hour weeks and making the personal and social sacrifices that come with that. Putting myself out there for public scrutiny and living (and often sleeping) in rags, mostly covered in paint and chemicals and wet shoes and socks is also up there. Is the reward worth that? To me it is.”

Browse Franko’s portfolio here.

Art for Bushfire Relief Raises $33,510

17 Comments

  1. Prue Macfarlane says:

    Paul, having seen your art “in real life” I’m astounded at your output, your diversity, your determination and of course your brilliant art. Keep it up but be kind to yourself too, and make time for a weekly rest!

  2. Kathy says:

    Congrats Franko, great story!

  3. Madge Bright says:

    Hi Franco,
    Love your story respect your energy and abundance. I have just finished Seven years doing a Double Degree at Curtain University in Bachelor of Fine Art and one in Visual Culture.
    I have been painting for 45 years but really wanted to know what the young wanted to see in their painting…….. I loved Every minute finishing up doing Japanese Sumi Ink on Steel base getting a Higher Distinction with a comment “ it’s been a long time since we have seen such sophistication”. …. just by the by I am 81, so I’m telling you this as you are just at the start of a wonderful journey, age has no barriers if your mind and love of what you are doing excites you.
    Best wishes for 2020 with great creativity.
    Madge Bright

    • paul says:

      Heavens Madge! You are a down right inspiration! I cannot thankyou enough for writing what you have here. It has come from the heart. Congrats on the Double degree….and Id love see a photo of the Sumi ink….can you email it to me at [email protected] (if they let that be on here) or post it to my Bluethumb inbox. Hugs! and respect! Franko

  4. Julie Holt says:

    I commissioned Franko to do one piece for me…. how wrong I was. One Franko wasn’t enough….I have three with hopefully more in the future.
    Everyone that comes to our home just loves all the pieces (Urban pop art, abstract, Miss M).
    Franko was so accomodating in making the pieces just “right“ and nothing was too much trouble with me sending some crazy request.
    Thank you Paul my friend. All the best 😊

  5. Jo Elmer says:

    Love,love all your achievements and all your art..
    You inspire me to be the best I can be…
    Congratulations.
    I look forward to glimpses of all you do…May your year be blessed and you keep on being my inspiration 😀💖💙

    • paul says:

      Thats a powerful reply. Thanks Jo. I know its never easy…..but my experience has always been that if its something worth having, it probably wont be “easy”. Desire, Determination, Discipline. and have fun! LOL….

  6. Marisza Willis says:

    Great work Franko and amazing story. I always thought you were a winner especially after my purchase of Perfectly Blu from you. Your drive and expertise is like no other. See you in 2020 for another purchase or two. Cannot wait.

  7. Lynda Howitt says:

    Congratulations 😀

  8. Rachael Chararalambous says:

    Fantastic story.You give me the inspiration to continue my art journey.You are such a hard worker.

    • paul says:

      wow, Rachael cant say that I feel I offer tooooo much Inspo, sadly not even to my rugrats!….thankyou! Yes I do work hard,but often its a bit unbalanced…..Im just trying to get a bit of Balance back in 2020 Happy Trails! Franko

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