The unofficial NoHo motto is: “NoHo is only as great as its people.” This summer we are highlighting some of our awesome creative neighbors. This week we feature a North Hollywood visual artist. Meet Frankie Smith, a NoHo storyboard artist.
What’s your art background?
I didn’t become a full-time artist until late. I was a competitive athlete (still am) and to support myself and my competitive habit, I was your basic office administrator/manager. One day, I realized I never wanted to ever work in an office again and began focusing on art. I became a freelance fantasy/sci fi/horror illustrator. I did work for games, publishing, etc. I’ve got a cover for “Heavy Metal” magazine; that was a highlight. I’m currently preparing to draw up the interior for an eight-page comic book short story.
I should add that I left Oregon with state records in powerlifting and I’m a former competitive strongwoman (nationally qualified), and bodybuilder (competed in Nationals, twice). I’ve set a goal of competing in my first figure competition in 2021; which was to happen in 2020 and well, we know how that year went.
How did you become a storyboard artist?
Five, six years ago, I just realized I didn’t like fantasy. Just wasn’t my thing. I rediscovered my love of drawing cars and people. I just fell into doing tribute portraits of celebrities who passed away; David Bowie being my first. Then, portraits. And you know, I’ve always loved film and comic books. I began, for practice, doing up these scene studies of films. And through another illustrator who had become a storyboard artist, I found out there was a creative profession that would allow me to constantly connect with all of my passions.
So, I moved to L.A. with the intent of becoming a storyboard artist. And that’s what I do.
Do you have a favorite (s) piece?
For digital, it’s that cover for “Heavy Metal” magazine, “Afternoon Coffee” and so far, it’s all the gouache pieces I’ve been painting. I just love gouache. During the lockdown, I made the decision to actively learn something and that something was gouache. And I’m going to continue to explore this medium. It’s almost therapeutic for me to sit down at my easel and get dirty with paint.
Really, the paintings are like your children, you just can’t choose a favorite!
I’ve been using Cup Easel. It’s a big reason why I’m loving painting. I’m going to start taking it out for plein air in the hood. So many areas in NoHo that I’ve wanted to sketch.
How can one buy a piece? Which ones are for sale?
Hah, that’s a question everyone has been asking me and I gotta sell ‘em because my little space is becoming crowded with paintings! Simply contact me via email or over on Instagram. I post all the gouache pieces on my IG page and if anything catches your eye, let me know. I should say there are already dibs for a few. The donuts and the Igor/Young Frankenstein pieces are taken. I’m going to start doing a sketch a day; 6×6 or 6×8 and they’ll be $100 a piece. Again, those will be posted on my IG page.
Are things picking up after the covid hiatus?
Yeah. But I was so fortunate to have been able to still work and ride out the lockdown! So lucky! Oh my god, I’m even more grateful for the friends I have and my sister (she’s in Kuwait), who we all stayed in contact (virtually, of course) through 2020.
What do you like about NoHo?
When I moved into this area, it just vibed with me. It felt like home. Immediately. I hang out in Republic of Pie, Romancing the Bean or Ugly Mug Coffee Shop to sketch or people watch. Oh man, to now be able to hang out in these places again! So happy. It’s so walkable here and central to everywhere I need to be for work or events in other parts of L.A.
What would you like to see more of in NoHo?
More boutiques, galleries; especially now that things are reopening. Be awesome to see more small shops. So many closed down in 2020; which is so heartbreaking . Open air markets, too. That would be wonderful! Mix of farmers market with artisan shops.
What would you like to add/highlight?
Haha, good question! I think to just contact me if there’s a piece that catches your eye. That’s all. Maybe I’ll have a little show of the paintings someday soon. That’s another goal for 2021.