Local artist profile: Wes Franklin
THIS week we chat with mural artist and graphic designer Wes Franklin
What motivated you to get into making large scale art?
Part of what got me into murals is that I was curious to see if I could take the lettering I was creating on a small scale and reproduce it on a large scale. Sure enough, I found that I could do it and, more importantly, really enjoyed the process.
The other thing I love about murals is that they get me out in the community, meeting and working with great people, and leaving my mark.
Can you describe your style?
My artistic style could be described as typographic-driven, with a healthy dose of clean lines and textures.
Five or six years ago I fell in love with hand lettering, and pursued it as a hobby for a few years. But it has become a passion, maybe even an obsession, and now lettering shows up in all my work.
Is it hard to make ends meet purely from your art practice?
I know there are muralists out there who make a living from painting walls, but for me murals are only a part of what I do. I’ve been a graphic designer since 2005, and these days I focus on brand identity projects for small businesses and community organisations.
How can a mural enhance the facade of, say, a restaurant or retail outlet?
Murals have become popular amongst businesses because they transform a ‘boring’ wall into an engaging space. Typographic murals like the ones I create go even further because the words that I paint have meaning – so there’s a great opportunity for businesses to make a statement and communicate to their audience. Beautiful lettering on a wall can also really bring a space to life.
Which artists inspire you?
Recently I discovered Corita Kent (1918–1986) who was an artist, educator, advocate for social justice, and also a nun! I’ve been incredibly inspired by the purpose with which she lived her life, and the amazing typographic work she created.
Some more contemporary inspirations are lettering artists like Ken Barber and Gen Ramírez – who are masters of the craft, and muralists like Andrew Frazer, Kate Foxton and Brett Piva – who use really interesting textures and colour palettes. I also find the work of Erica Dorn fascinating – she has been the lead graphic designer on a bunch of Wes Anderson films.
What have you been working on lately?
Right now I’m working on an installation for the 16 Days of Activism coming up later in November. The campaign is about domestic violence, and I’m working with Nacho Station to create some typographic pieces that will hang in the Bendigo Conservatory.
What are some highlights you have from your career so far?
One highlight was the recent collaboration with Tatura-based artist Rachel Doller. She and I created a Dr Seuss inspired mural for Kangaroo Flat library, which we completed back in September. It was a great experience working with someone who has such a different style.
How has your art practice been affected by COVID?
I think clients have been hesitant to spend like they normally would, so creatives like me have had fewer opportunities. Having said that, it seems like there have been more grants available for creative projects, which has been really important for local businesses and the creative industry.