Debra Franses Bean is a British #Artist who is best known for her ARTBAG series that melds pop-culture and consumerism with contemporary #Art. Full of color and glamour, Debra’s work has been displayed all over the world. Recently, she discussed her experiences as an artist.

The beginning 

Blasting News (BN): Why did you decide to become an artist?   

Debra Franses Bean (DFB): I was taken to museums and galleries and from an early age. My mum is a potter and was always doing creative stuff with my little sister and me. I didn't get to become an artist until much later but the fact that I knew what I wanted from the age of six was a great source of comfort to me. 

BN: What art initially interested you?

DFB: I loved the work of female sculptor Barbara Hepworth and British painter David Hockney.

I used to copy his paintings onto lids of shoe boxes and hang them like a canvas on my wall. I was never much interested in anything older than Turner or Picasso. In Paris I saw Monet’s “Waterlillies” which is a truly monumental memory. 

BN: Typically, how do you describe your work?

DFB: It's to do with identity. My dad worked with handbag designers and manufacturers in Italy and gave me my first Gucci bag when I was nine. Mum was a potter and an art teacher. My work is real and imagined autobiographies; the viewer is left piecing together the identity of the bag owner whilst projecting their own interpretation onto the object contents. It’s like eye candy and brain candy at the same time. My titles are often irreverent and whimsical...rather like me. I'm inspired by objects of desire a projection of gratification.

It's personal and intimate; expensive and luxurious. I love putting really low consumer valued items inside but use objects that hold a lot of social currency.

BN: How did you get your work shown? 

DFB: While I was at Central Saint martins I started applying for burseries and scholarships. I won a travel bursary to go to Venice and study large-scale printmaking during the Venice Bienale. I was then awarded a bursary by a printing company who had the license for Andy Warhol wallpaper and fabric. They made popped up wallpaper out of my back sculptures. I even got to exhibit my work at the posh London stores Selfridge and Harvey Nichols. I’m currently represented by ten galleries globally. 

BN: Do you have a favorite piece and how did you develop your style?

DFB: The ones I made for Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta for the global 100-year exhibition. Another favorite is called “Catch” which shows a fish in a handbag and is a metaphor about marriage. As a teenager I was into fashion which extended into my style for artwork.

I made my first ARTBAG in 2002 in an art class. I made a mold of it and adapted parts to make it my own. I'm still using the same shape and filling it with whimsy items and iconic symbols that represent the cluttered landscape of consumerism that we inhabit today.

The rewards

BN: What’s the best part of being an artist?

DFB: Being able to live in my own light doing what I love doing and making other people happy while enjoying my work. I couldn't ask for more! I can also send my son to a very good school and pay my mortgage without worrying which is a great feeling!

BN: What advice can you give to those who are aspiring to become artists?

DFB: Keep a sketchbook and don't ignore any ideas. Collaborate with other people and organizations to share energy and ideas. You are the author of your ideas so don't fear others.

BN: Is there any forthcoming news that you would like to mention?

DFB: I am working on a bag for Margaret Thatcher celebrating her life and creating for an exhibition at the Bethlem Museum of the Mind in 2017. I'm also creating a big proposal for a five-meter bag for a huge shopping center in Abu Dhabi. I love collaborating and doing commissions with different people. #Interview