Frank Plant is a Barcelona based American artist who creates drawings out of sculptured steel. There are really no words to describe how talented this person is. I’m amazed by his ability to consistently create quality metal sculptures whether its two or three dimensional. Anyway, in this interview, Frank talks about his background, inspirations, creative process, and future projects. When words fail in an introduction, we always have the rest of the interview to figure it out right? Ok, enough. Here we go…
Honey: Hi Frank. How has your day been so far?
Frank: There is a bandit fly in the house and he’s driving me a bit nuts… Other than that it’s all good, Barcelona in August is although very sweaty not such a bad place to be. It’s quiet to be honest.
Honey: Can you drop some knowledge about yourself for those who have not been exposed to your work?
Frank: I’m an American creative type based in the Mediterrenean city of Barcelona. I do what I refer to as drawings in steel. The subjects of said drawings are sometimes objects that i like for their composition, sometimes people. The subjects can range from the banal to the provocative. I broach social and political subjects on occasion. Sometimes I’m vulgar in that sense. I believe there are moments to make suggestions and others to make statements. A time for poetry, a time for prose and a time for pulp fiction. Even pulp non-fiction for that matter….
Honey: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Frank: I was born in Baltimore, Md but didn’t stay there long and spent formative years in Washington DC proper as well as in PA and VA. I consider myself a child of the mid atlantic seaboard.
Honey: Describe your childhood, what were you like growing up?
Frank: Ummm… Those documents are still classified. Suffice to say that I was one of those sensitive yet rotten types. But I turned out kinda normal and that’s due to one hell of a single mother.
Honey: Why choose steel as the main sculptural medium in your work? Could you share with us how that came about?
Frank: I first got the opportunity to work in steel at the University of the Arts where I went to school and I was immediately attracted to it for a number of reasons but primarily it’s sense of permanence and durability. I also very much like the techniques one uses to manipulate it as well as it’s expressive qualities.
Honey: What goes through your head when you are about to start a new piece? Could you tell us about your process? What does your work flow look like?
Frank: A variety of things but I pretty much run all new instincts/ideas through a battery of tests to see if they are really worth realizing. I have to have a visceral reaction to the idea before I will realize it, if my enthusiasm ebbs after a few days or weeks it’s doubtful the piece will be realized. If not I put into motion the necessary steps to conceive it. Some pieces are immediately crystalized in my mind and others require a bit of touch and feel as you go. Which is a bit of a balancing act. But I will say this that once I am in the process it is very much the richest place to be and where a slew of new ideas come from. Almost all my new work stems from a precedent set by a previous piece.
Honey: Were there any challenges? If so, what were they?
Frank: Challenges of getting my head around the technique of working with metal was just patience more than anything and if anyone knows me they would know the size of that challenge. I compare it to learning a new language, at first you speak in the present tense with a limited vocabulary and slowly you add more possibilities solely through increasing one’s awareness and familiarity. It just so happens that with working with metal there’s a few burns and scrapes/cuts etc… along the way.
Honey: “Living with Ghost” is one of my favorite piece you’ve made so far. Can you talk a bit about that one for us? It’s stunning.
Frank: That piece is a bit particular and actually stems from a dream I had, I have never, never made a piece based on a dream. At least that I can remember. Anyway the dream took place in an abandoned industrial sight/building where I happened to be living. It didn’t take long for me to notice that there was something peculiar about said building and then I realized as you do in dreams that i was living/sharing the building with a family of ghosts. This came as a bit of a surprise but in the end we actually got on quite well and I felt that somehow it was quite extraordinary. Enough so that I made the piece, I think that I still have some things to resolve with that piece but I have a lot of affection for it.
Honey: Was anyone in your family an artist?
Frank: There was some great great grandfather that formed a part of the studio that carved the lions on the facade of the San Francisco Art Museum but beyond that no. He died of smoke inhalation putting out fires during the great earthquake there in the early 20th century or so I’ve been told.
Honey: Where do you get all your ideas?
Frank: Various places but the poetry of everyday actions and movements is of late the primary source. As I said before, in the process of creating things is the place where i generate the most ideas. It somehow feeds upon itself.
Honey: Who would you say your biggest artistic influence?
Frank: Different artists/creatives had had a different influence at different times so I’m not sure if there is one person. If I reflect on it though there is a thing and normally you wouldn’t think of it as an artistic influence but it is in every sense of the case in point and that is my economic state (normally bleak). I doubt anything has had a larger impact on my artistic growth and in creating the everyday parameters of what I’m capable of doing. It’s curious to think of that as a determining factor but for better or worse I can’t think of any that has had more influence.
Honey: Is there anyone you’d like to work with creatively in the coming year or so?
Frank: I spent a few years working with the french artist Thomas Charveriat of Island6 Arts Center, all of the interactive work, Awkward Moments nos. 1 and 2, F2T, The Last Supper etc… were all done with him as well as an ever changing group of people that brought various special skills to the mix. Working with people requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice, you get a lot of growth and broadening of horizons out of it though, at least in the best of circumstances. I think I’ve moved into the selfish pig stage of my artistic development although it is nice to chat with folks about art now and again. I’d really like to get voice lessons from Erykah Badu though, if that counts as artistic collaboration I’m all in. In reality I’d settle for any vocalist in the Barcelona area. So anyone interested in voice lessons for welding lessons please contact me.
Honey: Complete this sentence: You can never have too many …?
Frank: .. meters of 3 and 4mm steel bar, light bulbs, friends, patrons, cutting discs, bottles of CO2 and Argon, late night dinners, Sunday afternoons with televised sport, cleaning rags… not necessarily in that order, the list goes on and on.
Honey: If walls could speak, what do you think they would say?
Frank: There is a great quote from Edmond de Goncourt “An artwork in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world“. Walls most likely as well, but I guess it depends on the location of the wall. Just to tout Monsieur Goncourt who was a very insightful being a bit more he also said this ; “If there is a God, atheism must seem to Him as less of an insult than religion “.
Honey: Are you working on some projects right now which you can leak some info about? Anything you are working on at the moment that you are excited about?
Frank: I’m in the process of incorporating Flock into my works and this is very very very exciting (e.g. Something for Everyone on the Blog), well at least for me. And I just did my very first series of 15 which was a new experience that was very rewarding. Hopefully coming to galleries near those of you based in Amsterdam, Madrid and Dusseldorf soon…
Honey: Thank you for participating in this interview Frank! Anything you’d like to add?
Frank: Thanks for sharing your platform which does a really good job of digging up hidden gems that otherwise I would never have access to.