Like an old friend that comes to visit every few years, I have dug out my old Frank Frazetta books and wiped off the dust. There they are. The warriors, women and creatures born from a creative mind attached to a body with enough skill to make them come alive through paint and brush. The art of Frank Frazetta is still worthy of conversation, and there is a lot about the artist and the art that is still to be admired…
The Art of Frank Frazetta
Frank Frazetta. The name itself sounds as powerful and strong as some of the subjects in his art. I fell in love with his work when I was in high school. I bought a couple of books and even painted a copy of one of his paintings for an assignment in high school art class. My friends (mostly guys) who were not into art loved his work as much as I did. He was a freaking living legend who made a big impact with his art.
When I got to college, Frank Frazetta was not very popular in the art department. His work was “science-fiction”. It was “illustration.” Not to mention “Too Mainstream.” Imagine the horror and gnashing of teeth!
The art of Frank Frazetta has always had a place on my favorites list. Some of his images have stayed with me like some of the great music, movies, and memories of my younger days. Here are 10 reasons why I still love his work so many years later:
1. Imagination – Frank Frazetta created what did not already exist. If you look at the bulk of Frazetta’s work as I have, there is no shortage of characters, creatures, environments and situations portrayed within. There are so many different scenarios featuring the aforementioned that viewers would really have to go out of their way to be bored. Considering the volume of work from Frank Frazetta, this is quite commendable.
2. Compositions – Energetic, dynamic designs are commonplace, and being in the comic book and comic strip field for more than 20 years surely played no small role in that. Bold, fresh, mysterious, energized compositions full of emotion were just another day at the office for Frank Frazetta. Boring was not in this man’s vocabulary.
3. Color – Bold, beautiful, rich color when and were needed. The same to be said for the subdued, dark, moody colors. Darks, lights and everything in between to give the composition the impact and mood that makes it a Frazetta.
4. The Drawings – Forget the paintings and colored illustrations for a minute. The pen and ink drawings from his “doodle books” are fantastic. Bold, dynamic, action-packed and humorous drawings that are sometimes more stunning than his color works.
5. Skill – Frank Frazetta was strong in all of the above, but it takes a tremendous amount of skill to mold the pieces together to produce such high quality work over a long period of time. He had the technical skill to give you the details, and also the sense to know when to downplay or leave something out.
6. The Women – Here they are for all the universe to gaze upon. The nude or barely dressed woman in distress, she’s the sexual and erotic, she’s the queen, she’s the witch and she’s the warrior. A lovely voluptuous goddess with a hatchet in her hand. Beautiful and luscious in one painting, ready to gouge your eyes out in another. All his women are drawn and painted like he knew his subject well.
7. The Men – Warrior or Barbarian, the Frazetta men are of course strong, chiseled, muscular and masculine. No wimps here. The men are not static either. They are in battle, fighting, riding, leaping; forever in motion. Sometimes the men are even down right funny. Clothing is sparse, even optional at times. Swords & spears, necklaces, belts, helmets, leather and plenty of hair. Sometimes the Frank Frazetta men are conquering, and sometimes they are being conquered, but they are always in action.
8. Exaggeration – It’s not enough that Frank Frazetta could draw, paint and compose. He painted far in excess of what could be real. By exaggerating the figures, animals and environment, Frazetta can take the viewer into his imaginary world quite easily. With action, facial expressions, anatomy, sex, violence, foregrounds and backgrounds, the viewer is sucked into a fantasy where Frazetta wanted them to be.
9. Guts – Frank Frazetta had guts. It takes guts to turn down a personal invitation from Walt Disney. It takes guts to change a piece because you are not satisfied, sometimes quite considerably, even after it has already been published. It takes guts to create your artistic vision without compromising or holding back one iota. It takes guts to produce an illustration for a bookcover overnight without reference materials in oil paints as Frazetta sometimes did.
10. The Signature – The Frank Frazetta signature is as iconic as the art itself. It fits the art it is assigned to and is unique and memorable. His signature is more than a name on a painting or drawing. It is a symbol created by the artist who was an iconic illustrator adored by legions of fans. Frank Frazetta died in 2010.
The Legacy of Frank Frazetta
The legacy of Frank Frazetta is pretty much set in stone. He was a leader in his field and copied by many. His career started when he was a teenager, and lives on to this day throught his images and the books, posters, and fans worldwide. The guy could flat out draw and his body of work is fantastic in more ways than one. He may not have been for everyone, and he didn’t care. For more on Frank Frazetta, this website would be a good place to start.
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