Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lisa Frank


I feel a compelling need to apologize to my male readers for starting this week off in such an exceptionally girly manner. I promise that when the mood strikes, I will write about something fist-poundingly masculine, but for now, I have a serious urge to document the adorable way a kitten looks when trapped in a high-top sneaker. So for the moment, please bear with me; just understand that this bear will be a painting panda wearing overalls.

It's a pretty well-known fact that young girls will ooh and ahh over adorable animals unprompted. Actually, as an adult I must admit I occasionally indulge this need as well, but the appeal of psychedelic coloring has faded significantly. To a child, however, aesthetics are key. In many ways, children are naturally materialistic and superficial because their brains have yet to develop to their full potential in the critical thinking/empathy departments. They need no explanation for why something has value, and they have an aching need to make their peers jealous. In short, they're a marketer's dream.

If you were at least vaguely femininely inclined and desired any sort of non-shunning in your elementary school years, you knew that stickers were the key to your social survival. As long as you owned them and traded them fairly, you were in. But God help you if you even considered unsticking it from its original backing for any purpose outside of regulation-grade sticker-booking it. That was the height of sticker sacrilege, and your status on the sticker social circuit would undoubtedly plummet from such amateur sticker collecting behavior.

Lisa Frank was so much more than stickers, though. It was, if such a thing could possibly exist, a school supplies empire. I'd like to find out which ad agency they used, because truthfully their marketing bordered on transcendent. Although these acid-trip colored animal splattered folders and pencils could essentially sell themselves on visual merit alone, they managed to convince us that we wanted, nay, needed, the entire collection. Just watching this commercial brings me back to a time when my determination to collect every available piece of Lisa Frank merchandise was unquenchable. Also, I owned the spokesgirl's hat in both denim and black velvet.




Collect them all, indeed. Let us briefly explore the products of the warped minded designers whose drug-induced color scheme choices and whimsical animal worlds captivated children everywhere:

Ballerina Bunnies. Graceful, garlanded rabbits who appear to be performing complicated on pointe ballet in a meadow. I will concede that this is probably their natural habitat, but I want to know for whom they are performing at dusk in the wilderness in full costume.


Painter Panda. For some reason, the people at Lisa Frank insisted time and time again that motor skill-deficient cuddly critters possessed some great capacity for artistic expression. Or maybe one of the designers was just especially skilled at rendering paintbrushes.


Hip Hop Bears. I could not actually ascertain their official LF names, but this substitution will certainly suffice. May I just say that those are certainly some hardcore musical ursedaens. I especially like the way that one on the left in the sweet piano shades is rocking the one-strap-on-one-strap-off overall look that so many of us were so fond of. And of course, we all know the true emblem of being legitimately hip hop is emblazoning the phrase on any available patch of fabric.


Roary and Friends. In this drug-addled designer's tripped-out mind, polar bears and puffins frolic together on the candy glaciers in the psychedelic- sparkly rainbow night sky. The puffins seem pretty ambivalent to the relationship, but Roary is giving us a mix between "get-me-out-here"and bedroom eyes.


Love-expressing penguins. Children of the 90s didn't need Morgan Freeman's soulful deep-voiced documentary narration to learn about penguin monogamy. We learned the virtue of penguin love from our trapper-keeper covers, thank you very much.



Hunter. That's a pretty bad-ass name for such a lovable log-hugging little cuddlepuff superimposed over a sparkly/traumatic LSD-experience background.


Hollywood bear. Enough glitter to make a disco ball blush. He seems to be conducting something, as Hollywood-based bears are wont to do.


I have also recently discovered that unbeknownst to me, I am a Lisa Frank character. I curse the people at Lisa Frank for not granting me this type of playground leverage as a child, but also applaud them for recognizing that my parents did not just make up my name as many people have rudely suggested.


Screenshot via LisaFrank.com

Looking at Mara, the Lisa Frank character, is like looking in a mirror. Well, a very poorly tinted fun house mirror if the 1970s and 80s had thrown up on my body and hair respectively. And look, she dislikes bad vibes! My god, it's like they can read my mind. Actually, it looks like she can, as apparently she is slightly psychic.

While I may not have been able to bask in the glory of an eponymous Lisa Frank folder-gracing character, I was pretty content to settle for my hugging penguins and house-painting pandas. If they could hypercolor it and slap the image on a pencil or a party hat, by God, we would be there. And if you could somehow procure the largest and best character-featuring stickers, well then, you just about owned recess.


Check it out:
Lisa Frank Online
Lisa Frank MySpace Skin, for those of you who are into that kind of thing
Buy Lisa Frank Stickers Online

48 comments:

Badass Geek said...

Oh, dear God. How effing RICH the exec's for Lisa Frank must have been in the 90's.

K @ Blog Goggles said...

OM-freaking-G. I LOVED lisa frank. I had about a million stickers of hers. Amazing.

P.S. I'm adding you to my blogroll!

Sadako said...

I remember Lisa Frank! I never had any, but those ads...they were everywhere.

Hmm. She HATES bad vibes? How unique, 'cause most people love them.

The Novelista Barista said...

WOWWWWW i remember them!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hahah i loveeeeed those things!!!

PINKMONKEY said...

I am in seriously need of a 90's refresher course. I think I was asleep for that decade!!

CTB said...

Lisa Frank was the beginning of my stationary addiction.

Fear Street said...

I freaking LOVED Lisa Frank! Scary...

SassyLittleGinger said...

hunter the tiger was my favorite. i got EVERYTHING with him on it. that's how cool i was.

Kristina said...

Okay, let me just mention that I had a lisa frank sticker collection in this really cool Lisa Frank sticker box plus my trapper keeper was Lisa Frank.

Moonjava said...

I loved Lisa Frank when I was younger. I loved that everything was so colorful although I gravitated towards the blues and purples more than the pinks! :)

Andhari said...

My cousin introduced me to Lisa Frank, she was slightly older than me and I was hooked, I had a lot of stickers to decorate my pencil case :P

Lora said...

I still have all my stickers!

Katie said...

I had a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper! I loved that stuff!

LiLu said...

What I wouldn't do for my old Trapper Keeper. Mostly to read all the love notes I wrote inside to my crushes...

live the life you love said...

haha!! ohhh how i remember these all too well. the bright colors were just intoxicating, i had to have them ALL!

Alex said...

I loved Lisa Frank. The ballerina bunnies were my favorite. I loved my ballerina bunnies backpack. I wonder if my parents still have it laying around...

Nessa said...

Lisa frank was my hero, i always wondered who she was...and when we'd finally become partners in her business, since i already financially supported half her company.

Amber said...

Omg, I forgot ALL about those stickers until I saw this post, but I recognized that first picture immediately! Too funny.

I love how this blog keeps reminding me of parts of my childhood that I'd completely forgotten about!!

Needs Help said...

Oh I remember being furious in 5th grade when our teachers required us to have plain folders like red for math green for english yellow for science, etc and I could not use my beautiful lisa frank folders with unicorns and teddy bears!!

Dani said...

Holy crap how could I have forgotten about good old Lisa Frank! I used to love those folders!!! I would cry if my mom would not buy them for me.

I <3 your blog!

Cee said...

I was a huge Lisa Frank fan, I definitly gave the party favors in birthday goody bags and spent a lot of time picking out the most fitting characters for each of my guests. My favorites were the ballerina bunnies.

Jaime @ Fast Times said...

I couldn't stand Lisa Frank when I was a kid. Ew. *shudders* I was totally more into Mall Madness and Pretty, Pretty Princess.

And I hated anything pink.

marathoner81 said...

I vaguely remember these...maybe I'm repressing my memories. The color schemes are so familiar.

teasinglydiverse said...

I think I spent most of my allowance on Lisa Frank things when I was in 4th/5th grade. Her school supplies made you cool.
I totally laughed like crazy when a guy in my law school section pulled out his binder the first day of school - hot pink Lisa Frank :) Said it seemed to work in elementary school, so why not law school too? :)

Mr. Condescending said...

I remember girls having that stuff. And that one guy that never seemed right.

Samantha said...

Heck Yes!

MissKarenAshley said...

Oh how I loved Lisa Frank! I was a spoiled brat when I was a kid and I had every Lisa Frank folder I could get my hands on. What a simpler time haha

ChinkyGirLMeL said...

Awww...Lisa Frank! I used to collect that. From stationaries and pencils to stickers.. I loved all things Lisa Frank!

Moonjava said...

Howdy again! I just wanted to say that there's an award waiting for you at my blog! :) You have an awesome blog!

ashley-cita said...

Omg. I was at the baseball game the other night when I saw someone consuming something that reminded me of *you*!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubble_Tape

Can you remember chewing an entire roll of this in one sitting as a kid? No? Just me?

ShoeZQ said...

Gah! I worked at Lisa Frank in Tucson,AZ. I found out after I took the job that it was voted one of the worst places to work in Tucson. Awesome, huh? I met and interacted with Lisa on several occasions. Not a very nice woman but man I couldn't get enough of her products when I was a kid!

ShoeZQ said...

Oh and you should have seen their corporate jet it had one of the Lisa Frank characters painted on the side. I've got tons of stories about that place!

Julia said...

omg..so many memories..so many stickers and pencils and folders..unbelievable..hehe thanks for bringing back memories!

Anonymous said...

my first job out of college was at Lisa Frank as a graphic artist. I was there for 2 years. I always found it ironic that Lisa Frank brought so much joy to girls, but was such a miserable place to work. I was there from 2003-2005 and I worked directly with Lisa and James (ex husband & CEO). They were both terrible people that tried to intimidate the employees. They also screwed over alot of the employees there. I gotta say it was nice to see Lisa Frank go down the drain. I have so many stories about James and Rhonda (ex VP and Jame's fuck buddy). Also many cocaine stories involving Lisa and James. Lets just say it wasn't rainbows and unicorns behind the scenes.....

Christie Goelz said...

i loved lisa frank as a kid! thanks for the great reminder of early memories.
check out my blog
http://christiegoelz.blogspot.com/

Leah said...

I'm writing a paper about the differences in socialization processes for boys and girls and decided to start off by sharing my experience with Lisa Frank verses my brother's experience with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Anyway--I used an image from your blog and just wanted to say thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I had three Ballerina Bunnies parties, the backpack, every sticker I could find, and a diary which I found when unpacking my stuff in my first apartment. It was a very creepy reminder about just how much I have grown up from those days...but I have to admit, the Bunnies are still amazing!

Anonymous said...

I met Lisa Frank at a job I was working and I had no idea who she was. She was with her children and and I was totally impressed with what a devoted and cool mom she is. Her children were also very well rounded, handsome and happy. When I learned who she was I told her I was an Artist and had always wanted to work for her and she hired me. I had heard terrible stories about her in the past from former employees with regards to cocaine and the major Biatch factor and I have seen nothing with regards to her that isn't nice and real. However the people I worked with at her company were complete plastic jerks. For starters the place is bugged and they record everything people say. There is a lot of attitude, rudeness, arrogance and people sneaking around and whispering. Mind you there are only a dozen or so employees. She is running lean and mean but not in the most intelligent ways. I was happy to have a chance to work as an artist but unless she is trying to run her company into the ground she needs make some serious changes. If I were her I would lay-off everybody and hire a consultant to come in and reorganize and strategise. Start from scratch AND I would screen people for drugs randomly. I never saw drugs there but the manager of Product Development clearly had exhibited on more than 5 occasions signs of using cocaine and the psycho insane mean affects of withdrawal. Multiple personality disorder is what I thought it might be at first but it more clearly resembled drug use after the 3rd time. Her sales department was lame however they all had token jobs because they were either married to someone or shared a birthday with the Queen herself. It was terrible and clearly the people there must be friends of hers because they honestly sucked. What they had to sell was based on what the art department was producing and her art department is boring and producing product I would guess was targeted to a West Palm Beach retirement community. I got to work on something that was cool but they seemed to put a lot of energy in ideas and concepts that were just weak. She has such wonderful designs already and if I were her and wanting to stage a comeback I would scrap everyone and start-over. I would bring the jobs back to America and pull entirely out of China, I would reduce my environmental footprint and simplify packaging using less paper, more creativity and better design/art. She needs to clean house big time. Overall I got the feeling she was stuck in a rut and is just too comfortable and set in her ways to change it.

Jennifer said...

I worked for Lisa Frank (Thank God, that's over). I can tell you that there is NOTHING decent about Lisa Frank, the woman, or her slimy now ex-husband, James Green. Rumors had been rampant throughout Tucson about their dirty business ethics--from fighting unemployment benefits to people they fired for no good reason, to hiring illegals to work under the table, to their early cocaine days, to them NEVER paying contractors, nannies, housekeepers, and a host of others who were employed by them.You will not find a person in Tucson who has ever encountered James Green or Lisa Frank who has ONE WORD of kindness for these two arrogant a**holes. Made my day a few years back when they made the newspaper with their pathetic public divorce--I'm sure they both got off on that, thinking the public gave a sh*t. They deserve all the bad-publicity they get; they have brought in on themselves. I seriously doubt these two creeps have any friends! Their company is passe--Honestly, I would never buy that tacky junk for my kids-----I can't imagine who still does! Funny, someone mentioned "Lisa Frank, Inc." today and I decided to do a Google search to see if anyone was still bagging on the infamous "James and Lisa." LOL: even recent dirt from 2010; some people never change! I hope they get everything that's coming to them........

The World of Lurlene Mcdaniel said...

man i love lisa frank. Glad they're still selling those out once again.

Lori said...

OMG i was obsessed with Lisa Frank when i was little! i recently sound a stationary pad with a clip in the middle and it has a little pocket on the front folder flap with more than half the stationary left inside! oh childhood...

Tony D. said...

I worked there from 1996-2000 and it was an upholstered hell. My dealings with Lisa were pleasant, but others were not as fortunate. Her scumbag ex James had been knocking Lisa up, keeping her pregnant and away from the company... I'm sure he was the inspiration for Lord Fahrquad in Shrek, a stilted, talentless little man who lived for the chance to bully others as doubtlessly he was bullied through his miserable life. I see now why Rhonda the equally sleazy VP (whose job it was to ream employees out about imagined things and fire people on Sunday mornings) was so slavishly devoted to him... She was screwing him! I can only imagine how unpleasant those two must have been in coitus. I was an artist who created and designed characters there, after mistakenly taking a job in that place... During my 4.5 years I saw the staff turn over about 4 times. They forbade employees to talk to each other during work hours and Rhonda would call you up to the office to tell you how much the other employees didn't like you. I told someone once that they got their business plan from Scrooge and Marley... that's an insult to the Dickens characters. I had worked with some of the top advertising agencies in the country and when I found myself in that festering hole, I wanted to bust out after a week. I had a growing family, and had to take crap off these mental midgets I would have taken out back if not for my need for the meager paycheck.

Finally, after another threatening reaming by Rhonda, I told her to go fuck herself, went and got my gym bag, radio and picture of my kids and walked out, curing them the whole way, and inviting James to come down the stairs and meet me outside like a man... No doubt he was hiding under his (or Rhonda's) desk! Thank you for having this blog... You can do a lot better with your hard-earned cash than spending it on those certifiable bozos!

Unknown said...

How funny to find postings about the hell that working at Lisa Frank was. I was convinced that Lisa hired someone to scour the web and make bad postings about her disappear. I worked there for a whole 4 months in 2004, dealing directly with James and Lisa and then between James and the art department. It was weird to see how scared the artists were to be there because they were threatened and many of them were young and made to believe that Lisa could sue the pants off of them if they quit. Wow! I know that my experience there was a chance to see first hand how NOT to run a business, treat employees and foster goodwill. The only good to come of that time was a friend I made that I'm still close with to this day.

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Michelle said...

Holy cow...I'd give my eyeteeth to work at Lisa Frank. *__* I'm turning 25 soon, but my need for psychedelic colors hasn't faded even slightly. I collected everything Lisa Frank when I was a hip 90s kid, and I still collect it now. Used it proudly all through high school and college. I would feel fairly confident betting on myself as the world's biggest LF fanatic--at LEAST in the top five. The write-up in this entry is gold, man. Love it. I'm definitely adding this blog to my "follow" list, since I'm as nostalgic a 90s kid as you'll ever find. I remember it all as if it were yesterday...everything in these entries is the total truth, Ruth. 8'}

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

ONE OF THE ALL-TIME WORST COMPANIES TO WORK FOR:

I worked at Lisa Frank back when the company was in transition, from the divorce of Lisa and James.

Julie was in HR and she was a nice person (most of the time).

LeAnn was a tyrannt, and a major B, the fat cow.

There were alot of cool people that worked there, but the Executive Branch that was resposible for managing the daily operations, was full of insecure people taking out their frustrations and insecurities on any worker they could, or who would allow it (which was most, because everyone was afraid to lose their job if they spoke up).

I swear, it seemed to me that alot of them were Devil worshippers or something, which is ironic, considering they sell smiles to all the unsuspecting little girls and boys (feminine).

Judith was a backstabber and two-faced (as in, smile in your face, talk behind your back),

Michelle was a follower,

James is a little b that I could slap if I saw him, and

Lisa, I swear, has to be a practicing witch, or something. Yes, that kind of witch...as in the Wicked Witch of the West, but I digress.

Kammermer was a drone pussy and all up in your bizz (what did he do all day, anyway?)(but sit on his butt, or was up yours), and

the organization as a whole was a cold, soulless vessel, dependent upon the creative team in the Art Dept.

They try to WOW you when you first interview with their display of wealth, but wealth is all for not, if you are not happy.

Needless to say, I was HAPPY to be gone and out of that scary place.

Zombies in action, unite! The Lisa Frank way...

UP & AWAY Sarah Jane said...

awesome thank you

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