Step into the beguiling fantasy art of Frank Forte and immerse your creative wanderlust in the surreal, and often eerie, narratives of a cartoon life with a delicious dark side. In a realm where classics meld with seriously twisted animation, the reflective interpretations and wildly weird artistic sparks will set your imagination on fire. Steeped in character-driven development, the ingenious arrangement of his visual components let the eyes trace each painting with heightened curiosity.
Influenced by cartoons and comic books, Frank Forte’s stylistic underworld leaves nothing uncensored and allows us, the wagging tongue viewer, to travel the length of his visual prowess. It’s intense there, stay a while… linger in his visionary imaginings. From the sharp fangs of a Big Bad Wolf to the stiletto seduction of Betty Boop, his compositional sixth sense and keen technique take cues from sweet nostalgic tones that rise to every occasion.
Hungry for more? Frank Forte’s work will be featured at a host of venues including Tiny Terrors 4 at The Dark Art Emporium, Black Sheep Gallery, the LA art show, and Bruce Lurie Gallery. You can also visit his Kickstarter, Warlash: Cold Metal Mayhem & BioBurden #1 Comics and more, to discover how you can help support his impassioned project. Read on for further details!
My paintings are an assemblage of inspiration of what I grew up watching on TV and scouring conventions and videos stores for that censored, banned or forgotten cartoon. After studying animation, I wanted to try and capture the feeling and emotion of a moving cartoon on a flat canvas. If I can give the illusion of movement, laughter and/or horror to the viewer, then I have somehow succeeded.Frank Forte, Artist Statement
About the Artist // Frank Forte is an accomplished designer, storyboard artist and comic book artist. Frank’s film and TV credits include: Lovecraft Country, Fantasy Island, Solar Opposites, Dreamwork’s 3Below, Bob’s Burgers, Insidious 4, Lego: Guardians of the Galaxy, Despicable Me 2, Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out, The Super Hero Squad Show, Marvel Heroes 4D, and Lego Hero Factory. Frank’s comic book credits include: Heavy Metal Magazine, Bob’s Burgers, Warlash, DTOX, Zombie Terrors and Chicken Soup For Satan among others.
In Frank’s spare time he paints. Influenced by classic cartoons and comic books, Frank’s paintings are an assemblage of inspiration from what he grew up watching on TV and reading in comic books. Trying to capture the feeling and emotion of a moving cartoon on a flat canvas, Frank’s work incorporates horrific and twisted subjects in disturbingly bizarre situations. His work has been exhibited at the La Luz De Jesus Gallery, Copro Gallery, Corey Helford Gallery, CASS Contemporary, Dark Art Emporium, Arch Enemy Arts, Phone Booth Gallery, Night Gallery Fine Arts, Cannibal Flower, LTD. Gallery and Hyaena Gallery. Frank Forte is also the publisher at Asylum Press (www.asylumpress.com), an indy graphic novel and comic book publisher. Asylum Press is a publishing company that produces premium comic books and graphic novels within the horror, science fiction, and action genres.
Exclusive Interview with Frank Forte
Hi Frank, let me start by saying thank you so much for taking time to share with our Beautiful Bizarre readers. We are delighted to have this opportunity to learn more about you and your work. Beyond traditional arts, you also work in film, TV, comics… how do you explore and maintain the integrity of your vision each time you begin a new piece?
Sometimes working in storyboards for film and TV can take over, so I really have to carve out time to create my paintings. I usually will go to my second studio, an attached room behind my garage, turn off my phone, (there’s no internet back there) and I can just be surrounded by my works, my inspiration, and just focus on creating something new… but in keeping with the look and feel of past works. I always start with sketches and drawings or look through sketchbooks to see where I left off. If I’ve been away for a while, it sometimes takes a few days to get back in the flow.
Classic cartoons and comic books are pivotal components in your work; what’s your favorite cartoon and favorite comic book?
I love the old Warner Brothers cartoons but also the classic Fleischer animation too. The B&W rubber hose stuff rom the 1920s and 30s really inspires me. It’s just so vintage looking and creepy in many ways. Many of the studios back then, like MGM and Van Buren, had these great shorts that are rarely shown today; I have collections of these that I watch often. The comics from that era were often drawn by the same studio animators and layout people that worked on the cartoons. But in the comics, they were rarely given credit, which is sad. I love all comics, but I like looking at the 1950s Dell comics for WB, Woody Woodpecker and Tom and Jerry comics—some great art in there.
What has been the most demanding painting (or project) you have worked on to date? What about it challenged you?
I have been working on these assemblages that combine painting and found objects. These have been exhibited at La Luz De Jesus Gallery (Los Angeles, CA) as well as Bruce Lurie Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), and they were very fun to produce, but I had to delve deep into my construction and building skills to create them. I am working on more of these assemblage works for new shows coming up in 2021.
Your bio says that in your “spare time” you paint. What are you doing and working on the rest of the time?
Ha! For real—yeah, well I work mainly as a storyboard artist in film and TV. My film and TV credits include: Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It, Lovecraft Country, Fantasy Island, Solar Opposites, Dreamwork’s 3Below, Bob’s Burgers, Insidious 4, Lego: Guardians of the Galaxy, Despicable Me 2 and Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out, among others. My comic book credits include: Heavy Metal Magazine, Bob’s Burgers, Warlash, DTOX, Zombie Terrors and Chicken Soup For Satan among others. I’m also also the publisher at Asylum Press (http://www.asylumpress.com), an Indy graphic novel and comic book publisher. Asylum Press is a publishing company that produces premium comic books and graphic novels within the horror, science fiction, and action genres.
So when I’m not doing those things, I’m in my studio creating paintings and assemblages.
Art can be about expression, making people feel good, and eliciting emotion and an avenue for change. Art can do all these things. I think it’s a matter of what the artist wants to do with his or her art.
By the way, who is Dr. Smash?
Dr. Smash is my Neo-Pop Art alter ego. I like working in different styles and Dr. Smash allows me to create art reappropriating pop culture imagery as well as creating some of my own.
The presence of social media seems to be a pivotal mainstay for personal brands and business owners. What role do you feel art and the artist have in today’s society through this outlet?
Social media is tough. I love it and I hate it. I love being able to connect with fans and get my work out there, but the algorithms change all the time where you can’t build your following without paying to do so. Running social does take time, I mean hours and hours per month. My following is not that huge, so I’m not sure how much good social media is doing me, but I’m there posting and interacting every day. Art can be about expression, making people feel good, and eliciting emotion and an avenue for change. Art can do all these things. I think it’s a matter of what the artist wants to do with his or her art.
We’re now in moving quickly through 2021; though ruminating over 2020 seems a mainstay. Describe your current mood vs. your artistic direction for the rest of the year ahead.
It feels like we’ve entered some dystopian world. It’s crazy. I want to be positive and come out of this a better person, to a better earth. I think I will be creating more art as fast as I can before the next earth shattering pandemic comes! I also want to spend time with loved ones, friends and family and just cherish the time. You forget to do that when you’re chasing something, like an art career. I have numerous paintings in the works at jump off from my last La Luz De Jesus Gallery show that incorporates new color schemes and characters.
In the same vein of this strange and indefinite time, we are all making sacrifices in our lives, and now more than ever, we need to stay inspired and motivated. What are you excited about and will you share a bit about what lies ahead on the horizon?
I will have three new pieces at the Tiny Terrors 4 group show at The Dark Art Emporium (Long Beach, CA), which opens June 12th and a show at Black Sheep Gallery in Burbank on July 17th. They will be reopening the gallery and website for my show.
I will also be showing new pieces at the LA Art Show (July 29th-Aug. 1st 2021) at the Sally Centigrade booth. I’m very excited to be part of the biggest art event in Los Angeles this year. I will be showing brand new works. I will also be showing paintings and works at Bruce Lurie Gallery, (Los Angeles, CA and Park City, UT). Contact the gallery for more information.