Whimsical and haunting all at once, Frida Clement’s artwork evokes childhood nostalgia, the kind that draws readers to her work, pun absolutely intended. The launch party of Frida’s first book, Have a Little Pun – at 1927 Events – perfectly encompassed her aesthetic – lovely, bright, and fun. Attended by many good friends and music community folks, it was a magical little evening.
Guests were able to purchase her book and get a print of “Gopher It”. Frida mentioned that she almost chickened out in having the party – all those in attendance were certainly glad she did not. I had the opportunity to chat with Frida and it was just as delightful as I had hoped.
MS – Tell me about what got you into drawing?
FC – I was a real introverted kid and loved to draw and read by myself. At my teacher conferences, they expressed concern about me (laughing) because during recess I would go off by myself to read and draw.
I really loved the artwork of Charlotte’s Web and the I subscribed to the literary magazine, The Cricket. Pouring over those and drawing my own was my way of coping with the world.
MS – Talk to me about your poster work, how did that come about?
FC – Ha – it’s ironic that I design posters for bands with these huge shows, but the way that I enjoy music is by myself.
When I worked at STG, I designed posters for fun. I loved that I got to interpret their music through my own eyes. I make sure to listen to whatever bands I’m designing for on repeat. I did not know that I wanted to do illustration necessarily – I was not in the right place after a while creatively, but I learned what I was capable of. I learned a lot about myself. The work I was drawn to (outside of my own) was done by hand and slowly. I needed to slow down.
When I decided to go independent, I was initially anxious about not working constantly. There is so much societal pressure to be constantly working, but I really wanted to do work for me and slow down. I’ve been learning to do that more (laughing), but it was a real challenge.
FC – The book was the happiest accident – I was going to Hattie’s Hat for a sketch night – showed up and nobody was there – I had mixed the date up. I showed up 24 hours late. It’s a huge joke in my household, as this is just something I do. Tomo (Nakayama – her husband and amazing musician) was going to go to Conor Byrne, but was so sweet about the mixup. We just went home (laughing).
I still really wanted to sketch, so I decided to draw at home. I drew a whale and wrote “oh, whale” I cracked myself up and felt instantly better. It was therapy in a way. That happy accident created a snowball of puns – I had a running list at my bedside. I would wake up in the middle of the night and shake Tomo with new puns. He is a patient man (laughing).
So, I illustrated them and put them up on Instagram and the reaction was really interesting. The reaction was different from my other work. People were saying “I totally needed this today.” It help me during the day, but it also was helping other people. I felt like I was contributing something positive to the Feed.
People started asking for more. I decided to print and sell them at Urban Craft Uprising – 2014 and they did so well. People from all walks of life were loving them! Laughing out loud at my booth and really enjoying the puns and my illustrations. It was so different from my poster shows where folks asked about my process, vs. just cracking up and feeling immediate joy at the prints.
Lynn Resnick and Adam Zachs suggested that they should be a book. I was like, why not? So, I sent a package of the black and white prints and posters to Chronicle which was a HUGE long shot because that is evidently not how you do it (laughing). You have to have an agent – proper channels, proper ways – I thankfully didn’t know any better and had no fear – editor got it and loved my work. So, it was a super fast process – happy accident to a book!
It really didn’t feel like work. I felt like it really connected me to where it all began – The Cricket, drawing by myself as a child. And it now is reaching an international audience! I love that all walks of life are excited by my work!
MS – Now that you are an internationally renowned author, any more book ideas?
FC – Yes! I have a ton and what is really exciting is that the puns are also going to be released as cards. It’s a really exciting time.
Frida Clements sells gorgeous prints on her website. To find her book, Have a Little Pun, try Elliott Bay Book Company.