In The Studio with Debra Franses Bean
This week In The Studio, TAG Fine Arts speaks to Debra Franses Bean! She talks us through her background in media, running her own art school, and all things artbags! You can find more of her work here! Debra is also available to work to commission, for enquiries please contact us.
When did you first start working with TAG Fine arts?
I've been working with Mark for 10 years, so when he joined forces with Hobby I became part of the TAG family!
What is your background?
My father was in the fashion business as an agent to handbag designers and leather craftsmen in Italy, and my mum was an art teacher. My first degree was in Politics, Economics and Philosophy; it was fascinating to understand the world but it was too impersonal, and I wanted something more intimate and creative. I worked in door-to-door sales in Italy and Spain and developed a thick skin which you need in the art world. On returning, I worked for Reuters and the FT but soon decided that Media again was too impersonal. I longed to discover the inner workings of my head and Art School at Central Saint Martins was the best place for me to do this in my 30’s. I studied sculpture, but this could be anything from a photo to a painting or film performance or object. This was where I made my first Artbag sculpture and have been exploring transient concepts ever since. The bag is an extraordinary object that holds and describes so much ethnographic personal taste and style information. I am influenced by everything and the bag allows me to filter and categorise these thoughts.
Define what art means to you, in 150 characters or less.
A chance to open up your unique world for others to see, hear, feel, know and connect to.
Describe what your workspace is like.
Do you have any routine you follow when you’re creating?
Well fed, well rested, a quiet coffee, everything within arms reach, white noise. Nothing that strongly influences me one way or another, it has to come from a place of stillness and emotion.
What is your favourite work of art?
I have the honour of teaching art to children as I set up my own art school seven years ago. One of the benefits of this is that I'm always discovering new ways of reading and connecting with art. At the moment I'm looking at the genesis of Van Gogh’s drawing to painting and his letters with drawings. This ability to look into his mind and feel the artwork resonates with me. I also LOVE David Hockney’s pool pictures and how his simple patterns beautifully and playfully describe water.
If you could have dinner with any artist, past or present, who would it be and why?
Leonardo Da Vinci as I think that we would have so much to discuss! He was the genius Renaissance man, glorious inventor and possibly quite mad and secretive.
How important are current and sociohistorical events to your works?
Do you think social media has impacted your career?
Definitely. I had my first website in 2003 and started promoting myself and my vision quietly, but with a steadfast self-belief. I think social media allows artists to hone their story and attract their own audience. It also makes you a tiny immediate global brand which is exciting.
Do you create your best work independently or when within a community?
Together for inspiration then alone for quality.
What advice would you give to upcoming artists?
Don’t expect anything to happen fast. Don’t give up your day job and don’t give up on your inner voice either - both are important and need feeding as they are mutually supportive.
Do you love what you do?
I feel very grateful that I can do what I love. I feel noticed, appreciated and challenged simultaneously. It is very satisfying to create a collaboration - it's like a dialogue of objects dreams and histories, it's hard to put into words really.
How would you describe your style?
Quirky, playful and politely provocative.
What themes do you reflect on in your work?
Things that I absorb from the media, music, film and culture. I try and make my work relevant to now but at the same time classic and timeless.
Do you collect art yourself?
I unsurprisingly collect things and people.
What inspires you to create?
Strong emotions need to go somewhere.
What is your quote to live by?
"Do what you do and do it well with love and passion, and your audience will find you". It was the inspiration that one of my tutors told me at Central Saint Martins that just stuck in my head.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a few collaborations. I am also processing some very strong emotions related to grief which I am exploring in my work. Objects hold stories and memories, putting them together is a very powerful feeling for me.