Graphic communication is a world in constant evolution, not only because the language changes continuously but also because it is a framework in which new formats are enthusiastically incorporated. Even more so now, when the technological world has such a specific and weighty impact on this discipline and has become an almost obligatory presence in updating this message.
Frank Plant, a US creative who has been living in Barcelona for years, is very aware of this. His work (which he calls 2.5 dimensions) incorporates elements from other, newer disciplines while still relying on clear language. “I’m trying to reach a distillation of an image/idea without clouding the subject I’m dealing with,” he says.
Having studied Sculpture and Fine Arts at the University of Philadelphia, his work surprises for many different reasons. It is easy to interpret, makes visible an important part of the social problems in a different format, clearly communicates what it intends to and the method is very similar to printed ink lines that function as reliefs, but presented in a material such as iron. “When I discovered this material, I loved its permanence, the values it communicates, its smell, the way it is worked and manipulated. From there began the research, and the start of a long relationship of discovery and development. Finding the symbiosis between my ideas and to see the many possibilities of the material. It’s been an intimate and beautiful process,” he says from his studio.
His murals, which he calls “steel drawings or “hierrogríficos” (ironoglyphs), are flat but simultaneously an object. They often represent a current moment of social unrest; they are a kind of message of discontent in a new format. “It is very important for me to reflect on the socio-economic/political issues of everyday life and to raise my voice for the things that I consider important to be reflected in the public sphere. To bring my creativity to the formation of ideas that will later be mulled over by other people seems great to me, and a fundamental personal goal,” says the sculptor.
And how is that message transferred to a flat piece, made of iron, that ends up hanging from a wall? “It really depends on the piece, but in general I think of images or themes that arise in my head, and then I try to see the possibilities of bringing it to the material. If the project incorporates human figures, I photograph people, and then when I’ve got all the raw elements, I compose an image in Illustrator. I print it and then in the workshop I begin to give it shape: I cut it, weld it, and little by little the piece grows,” he says.
“Sometimes I choose not to and prefer to work only in black and white because it includes the perfect basic information to communicate my ideas”
Black and white dominate his works, though he doesn’t rule out colour either. Especially because the same piece provides very different visual information. “Colour works at both a conscious and unconscious level – it’s not a matter of decoration, but whether you’re prepared to incorporate whatever that colour carries with it. Sometimes I choose not to and prefer to work only in black and white because it includes the perfect basic information to communicate my ideas,” he says.
Something similar occurs with the finishes of certain works that also incorporate other types of materials… “I love it. It’s the alchemy, the mixture and the contrasts. They are like harmonies that work together like the mixtures of flavours in a dish. Introducing other materials changes the frequency of the works and opens up new universes,” says the artist.
If we add to all this his constant visual exploration and that fact that he is fuelled by curiosity, the result is more than enriching. “It’s like a soup, in which the influences we consume like spices add flavour to our efforts. On the basis of this you can create pleasure or unease. That’s why you have to try and be aware of what you consume,” he says.
“I’m looking for a way to expand my horizons, looking for people and platforms that enjoy my sense of aesthetics and ideas”
And how does the future look to him? “On a personal level, I’d like to include more electronic elements: screens, motors, sound… It’s a slow process but I do it with humour and some dignity. In the meantime, I’m looking for a way to expand my horizons, looking for people and platforms that enjoy my sense of aesthetics and ideas.”
This article is also available in Español