When thinking about Lisa Frank, the first image that comes to my mind is a Bengal tiger with rainbow stripes and its fantastical rainbow world popping to the brim with color and light. And while that tiger is only one of the many creatures that Lisa Frank has created, they all maintain the same style of rainbow wonder.
As a kid, even I can remember staring at the pages of my Lisa Frank sticker book for hours, afraid to use them because they were just too cute. The rainbow tigers and colorful dogs and unicorns were enchanting for me as a young girl, and they continue to remain enchanting for collectors around the world today.
The art company that Lisa Frank started while in college at the University of Arizona has since grown to be a company with an iconic art style, making everything from stickers to headphones to baby onesies since its inception in 1979.
Lisa Frank is known for its psychedelic neon art styles, full of colorful animals and playful gumball machines. While it reached a heightened level of popularity in the 90s, the company still sells merchandise on its website today.
In Urban Outfitters’ Lisa Frank interview in 2014, she explained what the brand is all about.
“The world of Lisa Frank is about a little bit of fashion, whimsy, all color,” Frank said. “We stretch reality a little bit. Maybe a lot, depending on whose view it is! We try to just really inspire creativity in kids and adults.”
Many of the iconic animals that Lisa Frank uses in her designs are based on people in her real life. Her favorite characters that she has created are two tiger and leopard cubs that are named after and based around her two sons, Hunter and Forrest.
“We actually really try to base our characters off of people who are in our lives or who have been in our lives, and sometimes it’s in memory,” Frank said.
Each of the colors that Lisa Frank uses is also patented and designed by the company. They use a secret four-color formula to make all of the colors appear brighter, and unique to their designs.
Frank’s work that was idolized and craved by young girls in the nineties is now sought out by collectors across the country. A search of Lisa Frank on Worthpoint pulls up over 14,000 results.
Interestingly, it is the company’s products created during the 90s, when the company itself was most popular, that are most sought-after by collectors today, rather than the items created earlier in her career that were painted and rarer in quantity. Collectors are more interested in the nostalgia these items bring, rather than the perceived rarity of the item itself.
Some of her highest ticket items include her alien-themed plastic backpacks made in the early nineties which can sell for up to $400 in mint condition. Many of her plastic backpacks have become collector’s items, such as a sandcastle puppy bag that sold in 2015 for $255.
Her stationery, stickers, notebooks, and pens are also popular collector’s items. Even stickers from multiple sheets that have been pasted in books have sold for profit. Stationery items have sold for $350 in large lots, and three unopened sets of Lisa Frank pencils and corresponding stickers and erasers sold in 2019 for $227. Lisa Frank is perhaps most well-known for these stationery sets, which is more than likely why lots of them frequently are sold for high profits on eBay.
Other rare Lisa Frank items are oftentimes the more unique ones, such as press-on nails, galaxy-themed binders, and mini key chains. The Casey the Yellow Dog porcelain cookie jar consistently sells for over $100, and in 2019 one sold for $399.99 on eBay. Lisa Frank herself said that she enjoys making new categories of products for the brand to produce, even ones like the cookie jar that often don’t seem as “on-brand” for Lisa Frank.
“I think we made so many products because I get bored easily,” Frank said. “So as soon as we would master a category, I would want to do a different category. I’m trying to think what we haven’t done. There is hardly something we haven’t really done.”
For a time, the brand even had its own magazine, Lisa and Me, which ran from the mid-90s to the early-00s. This magazine has also become a collector’s item in the years since it ceased production, and it now frequently sells for around $20 on eBay, with some selling for $40 or more.
The brand continues to produce new products today on its website, though its range of products is less varied than it once was. It now sells only apparel and mugs, but they continue to showcase their iconic characters on their products.
Lisa Frank inspires both children and adults to this day, which is why it remains a collector’s item as well as a living brand still selling their products. During the 41 years since its conception, the company has maintained the same unique bright look and stylized animals that had fans interested from the start.
Kendall Aronson is a 2019 graduate of Berry College, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Public Relations with a minor in English. She has served as the Editorial Assistant for Berry’s Alumni Magazine, the Social Media, PR director, and Assistant Arts & Living Editor for the Campus Carrier. She offers an up-to-date look at collectibles for the Millennial audience.
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