To be Frank

Lucienne Roberts tunes in to designer Tina Frank’s way of thinking

Mego record sleeve

The downside is that although highly stimulating this work cannot pay all the bills. In the long run, however, Frank’s eclectic approach to work does pay off. EUnet Austria, the first Austrian Internet provider, was impressed by the Mego website and so approached Frank to design various items of print for them. It wasn’t long before URL was born.

URL has gone on to design for both cultural organisations and corporate clients developing identities to be applied to print, websites and a variety of communication media. Frank’s clients have ranged from Mica – Music Information Center Austria to Blumenkraft – to an exclusive Viennese flower shop. One of the latest websites URL has designed is www.popfile.de, the German MP3-portal of Universal Records.

Frank is aware that she transcends some art/design boundaries. The work for Mego may be the product of creative freedom, but it sells a product and so she still categorises it as design. Her forays into video, however, are pure self-expression. From 1996 to 2000 Frank worked with Mathias Gmachl from Farmers Manual, as the ‘videoband’ Skot producing videos like Skot vs Hecker, an experimental 30-minute live-video-work. Florian Hecker is one of Mego’s artists. Mathias and Hecker made the music, Skot did the visuals.

The Japanese visual label Gas, which aims to publish ‘cutting-edge media-mix among graphic design, fashion and music’ has recently brought out a Tina Frank DVD. Called Fuzzy Motion: Pictures Without Legs from 1995-2002 it is one of a series in which 12 international designers have been invited to show their work.

In a world that insists on stereotyping, Frank defies categorisation. She is reviewed in music and design magazines alike, juxtaposing roles as designer and video-artist. Her receptiveness to a multitude of creative inputs and her agility in moving from one genre to another is exhilarating and impressive.

Tina Frank: Pictures Without Legs shows at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London SW1 until 10 May.

Lucienne Roberts is a partner at Sans and Baum

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