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Check out Frank Gidlewski’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frank Gidlewski.

Frank, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I don’t know how unique it is for an artist to be mostly sad and starved for attention, but that’s probably where they want to make cartoons comes from! I studied Animation at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, but I don’t think that matters too much. How I’ve learned to animate, draw, and tell jokes is through all my artist friends. They were my true teachers. I usually want to impress them more than any authority figure because the funniest, truest drawings come from sitting in a room full of creative people with ideas bouncing all around.

I spent an entire career in the Food Service Industry while balancing animation, and I attribute that stress to my dark sense of humor and grotesque looking cartoons. I always want the drawings to be better but there’s a hounding need to get the cartoon finished as quick as possible to move onto the next one — kind of like being a server for one needy table and knowing three more just got sat in your section. 13 years of that damn job will haunt me forever!

After a few server jobs became less than ideal, I finally took the plunge into freelance animation as a main source of income. I spent about two years working on and off with a young and fun company in Brooklyn called CARTUNA. Powering through and focusing on that work gave me a mental boost and since then, I haven’t looked back. I primarily work in animation now, my most recent job wrapping up at Titmouse for an upcoming show on Netflix. It’s just the beginning of my career and I hope to continue it with more shows, personal shorts, and comics.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My art is cartoons. I don’t draw reality well, so I took to making whacky characters whose eyes pop of their heads, and tongues can be used as rope, and legs made of jello, and all that nonsense. Fine art is incredible. I can’t do it. I bow down to those who can. But I like going on walks alone a lot, so I see reality. A cartoon is personally more appealing because of its escapism and fantasy. The best things can happen in a cartoon. You could get a hole blown through your chest but in the next episode, you’re alive.

A cartoon can also move you to tears. Even one that looks like an older Nickelodeon cartoon. You just treat it as serious as if it were a live-action drama or whatever. I think it’s great when something as fake as cartoon drawings can move a person. I don’t think I’m anywhere near doing that but it’ll be great to hit that note someday.

Primarily, I work digitally when it comes to anything involving animation. Cintiq, Photoshop, Flash, ToonBoom, anything that will get the job done. But I like doing a lot of cartooning by hand. It took a very long time for me to ever be happy with a digital line, but when I started inking by hand I found I had a lot more control and the drawings became closer to what was in my head. I stick to digital for work and use my hands for when I make comics.

I’m a product of divorce. A lot of people are nowadays. Society kind of treats divorce as this easy thing, it just happens now, whatever. But it can really mess some things up for young kids and alienation becomes a bedfellow. Dark humor comes from those moments of hating my life, hating everything around me, and instead of letting bitterness totally eat my soul, I laugh at anything that makes fun of how “polite” and “nice” the world is. It’s probably very childish of me, but I love cartoons making fun of hypocrisy–my own included. I saw cartoons in various comics and on television, mostly “The Simpsons”, making fun of perfect families and perfect living situations. Immediately I felt less alone and wanted to make cartoons to make people like me laugh and go “I’m not alone!” I think it’s probably the most relatable emotion people in America share even though we’re advertised as being awesome and put together.

Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
I don’t think the role of artists have changed. I don’t think it’s wise for us to think artists changing society will save the day. We should probably step back from that notion and be more stoked on an effective policy that protects human rights and the environment.

I do think it’s important to make something if you have the need. The only way I get a cartoon done is because I realize I need to get it out. I have no control over the outcome of a lot in this world, but I do control getting a drawing finished.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My work goes up on my website tobefrankwithyou.com and on my Instagram @sadboyangryman.

The website is my go-to for applying for studio jobs because it houses most of my portfolio and is always getting updated with something new. Instagram is where I find myself posting the most because it’s how I’ve found random cartoonists who I would never have been aware of. Sharing their work, buying prints or comics. It’s a great platform for that, I guess we just battle with the algorithm to be seen.

For a long time, I didn’t treat Instagram or even Twitter as an option for putting my cartoons out there because I’m a “nobody”. I’m not a celebrity and I was 19 when this stuff started coming out and my friends began using these apps. That was pretty dumb of me because obviously people who were really serious about making stuff hustled and put in hard work to get a following. That’s the next step to focus on.

A dark sense of humor has its setbacks for confidence! I always doubt everything!

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