Fantastic butterfly winged fairies proclaim self-love, bodies bend into rainbows, and little leg hairs grow like wild flowers. Here, within the work of Frances Cannon, the inner child is released and embraced. Within the illustrated and painted world of Frances, you'll find affirmations of the best kind. Body-positivity, self-care, queer kindness, and more, are all topics that she focuses on with an absolute adoration and dedication.
It's not always sunshine and rainbows, however. Part of what makes Frances' work so relatable is her unrelenting ability to tell a greater societal narrative through artwork, which includes low points, sad days, and fervent frustration over things like politics. But all anxieties and moments of depression are funnelled into powerfully affirmative direct action. These moments are testaments to the potential of change that she sees in the world, and how she uses artistic mediums to be a catalyst for transformation.
Frances' work does so much to make people feel seen, heard, and supported. In this interview, she talks more about why she's drawn to artwork that means something, her love of the global queer community, and how you can pick up a Tattoo Ticket for future fun!
Frances Cannon Interview
I’d love it if you could tell us a bit about your background and how you became a working artist?
I've been drawing all my life. I remember picking up a crayon as a toddler and drawing scribbles at my parents feet while they watched TV. Drawing has always been a huge part of who I am, and because of being desperately in love with art I pursued studying art at university. While at uni, I started my Instagram and people started following me and buying work from my online shop! I started gaining popularity over the next few years so by the time I finished my degree, I was able to hop right into freelancing!
How has your artwork evolved over the years? Who are the artists, visuals, books, etc. that you often find yourself drawn to for inspiration?
Portraits and bodies have always been an interest in my work. When I was a teenager I drew a lot of inspiration from Manga and cartoons. I started being interested in fat positivity and feminism when I was in my early 20's and started incorporating more political themes into my work. Drawing fat positive art empowered me and helped me overcome my internalised fatphobia and really start to love my body - which is totally a testament to the power of art! I also love drawing from themes of religion, memory, self-love, mental health and queer issues. Some artists I look up to (for both the way they make art and also what they make art about) are: Louise Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo, Ana Mendieta, Marlene Dumas, Quentin Blake, David Shrigley, Nancy Spero, and Tracey Emin (to name a few lol).
It’s only recently that so many queer-friendly and queer-run tattoo studios have popped up...what are some of your favorites? And as a collector of tattoos, what has your experience been like in the tattoo community/industry?
Oh this is hard! There are so many amazing tattoo artists out there, so I'll name some of my favourites who have tattooed my body. Nat G is my go-to gal who can tattoo ANYTHING, she is incredible and one of my close friends! Gemma Flack is an absolute boss at tattooing and illustration, and is also a close friend AND we work together at Pink Ember Studio. Other tattoo artists I love the work of are Cori Swanson, Madison, Hounds of Love Studio, Jacqueline May, Bobbie Dazzler and Baba Vešterka.
I loooooove that you have “tattoo tickets” for people who want your designs tattooed on them. Can you talk about where this idea came from, why you came up with it, and how it works?
I saw another artist had a similar thing a few years ago and checked with her if it was ok that I also had a tattoo-payment system on my website. I'm pretty sure I coined the phrase 'Tattoo Ticket' though (hehe), and it's so cool to see lots of other artists using it and thriving. Tattoo Tickets are a way to ensure that the artist gets payment for you using their work for a tattoo, and it's also a simple way to get permission to tattoo! So instead of taking tattoo ideas from Pinterest, you can make sure that you have permission to tattoo that design AND you're supporting your fave artist financially! Win-win for everyone! I've found that tattoo artists also love the Tattoo Ticketing system as they often feel much more comfortable tattooing someone else's work when they know that the client has permission and has paid the artist.
You were involved in the really cool photo project for Bonds called “Out Now” both photographed, organized, and created for queer individuals. How has being queer enriched your life and what advice to you have for people who feel they can’t express that part of themselves yet?
That was such a fun event to be involved in! I was photographed and I designed a mural for the exhibition where all the photos were displayed! I'm so proud of my queer identity and love being part of this magical global community. I was very closeted (even to myself) growing up, but since coming into my queer identity I have felt more myself than ever before. For people who are unable to be open about their sexuality or their gender identity, just know that you are queer enough. Just as you are. Even if nobody knows but you, you are queer and you are wonderful.
Do you have an artistic philosophy? Do you think, especially in great times of socio-political stress, that artists have a responsibility to make work that serves the greater good?
I think art is just so powerful! My favourite kind of art is art that MEANS something. There's nothing wrong with aesthetic art, but art that has a political or personal meaning is just so powerful, and I get the most out of making art like that and looking at art like that. I also believe that art is for everyone! I believe in art being accessible and understandable for folks who may not have been to art school. I hate art jargon, art is supposed to be looked at and understood.
You’re stranded on a desert island and can only have one book, one toy, one movie, and one record. What do you choose?
Book: Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Toy: My Womanizer Pro 😈
Movie: The Princess Bride
Record: Harry Styles 'Fine Line' or Elton John 'Madman Across the Water'
Do you have any projects, events, cool things, or thoughts you’d like to share?
I'm just really excited that Melbourne is opening back up after a long lockdown. I'm excited for Pink Ember Studio, the shop and studio that I run, to open back up so I can start being involved in my cute little queer artist community that I adore so much! I'm also hoping to go back to uni next year to really hone in on my practice. I'm excited by the prospects of studying again!