Totally 80s: Lisa Frank

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at the decade that was ruled by big hair and bigger egos. Every other week I’ll be covering pop culture tidbits from the 1980s, sharing memories, choking on the ridiculousness, and maybe offering an insight or two into what made the 1980s so great/bad/silly. Serving as my inspiration are two lists from Buzzfeed, and I’ll include links to the original list items in each post. So throw on your neon windbreaker, lace up your hi-tops, and adjust your Wayfarers, because this DeLorean is taking off! (Ugh. Did I really just type that? Gag me with spoon, seriously.)

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List item #22 from 53 Things Only 80s Girls Can Understand

The pure magic of the acid trip for kids that was Lisa Frank.

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize a fad when you’re right in the middle of it. (Hindsight is happy enough to work its wonders and horrors later on.) That’s kind of how it was with me and Lisa Frank. Not like I knew her or anything, but I knew plenty concerning her cavalcade of…of…I don’t even know how to describe it. Of this:

LF1
Nothing says “Christmas” like panda bears and ice cream? I don’t even.

And this:

LF2
Awww….lookit how…cute? Um…sure.

And ohmyfuckingeyes this:

Don't look directly at it!
Don’t look directly at it!

Thing is, I don’t even know that I was really all that into Lisa Frank and her hopped-up ice cream cones on teddy bears, but I had school supplies, and I collected stickers, and I was girl, so by default, I was into Lisa Frank.

It’s very easy today to look back on this silliness and laugh, but you gotta remember that back then, Lisa Franks’ rainbows and moonbeams might have been flashy, but everything was flashy. Everything had to have some sort of catchy flair, from your cool Miami Vice lunchbox to your Rainbow Brite bedsheets (yes, I had them, thankyouverymuch). Bright colors were puked onto anything and everything imaginable.

Come time for school shopping, and being just a kid, of course I was attracted to the overzealous eyes of Frank’s kittens and puppies driving around in their multi-colored cars.  (Plus, as one of those kids who just got picked on generally, it didn’t make any different if my school supplies had lightsabers or lava lamps on them, I was doomed either way.) From the end of grade school to almost the end of middle school, I had some variety of Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper. Lisa Frank folders graced my locker. And I even owned a few, coveted Lisa Frank stickers.

On a side note: years later, when my sticker collection was pretty much rags, the only ones I had saved was a fresh panel of Lisa Frank stickers. With no better ideas in mind, I actually used them as…oh gawd…”bookplates” in my collection of Star Wars novels. On the inside, front cover of each book when a sticker and my signature. Think I’m making this shit up?

I wish I was.
I wish I was. Really. Though, that might not be a Frank sticker. Doesn’t make it any better.

But I think my crowning Lisa Frank achievement occurred when I was on the younger side of my love affair with all trippy things colorful. I had a dress. But not just any dress. It was a Lisa Frank dress, complete with a unicorn splashed in all its putrescent glory all over the torso. It was short-sleeved, the background was white, and attached to the bottom was a plum-colored, asymmetrical skirt. For a time, whenever, I needed to wear a dress, that’s the dress I wore. It saw church, holiday dinners, my grade school “graduation,” and countless other events until I grew out of it. And you better believe that it went perfectly with my purple jelly shoes.

I had friends who were much more into the Lisa Frank craze than I – everything they brought to school was Lisa Frank. Her locker stickers demarcated the obsessed from the unobsessed. Her clothing and accessory designs became the must-have items come the first days of school. Eh. I was fine with keeping my interest muted, only letting it shine when I had to pull out that folder for class, tuck away next week’s assignment in my Trapper Keeper…or wear that unicorn dress.  After all, a Pegasus is still a Pegasus no matter how many day-glo colors are in its mane.

4 thoughts on “Totally 80s: Lisa Frank”

  1. I remember those Lisa Frank days. I was definitely obsessed with it myself. I had the folders, sticker, stencils, pencils…you name it! I was so obsessed that I was a member of the Lisa Frank Club. Yup, they had that. I did like the fantasy and colorful aspect of Lisa Frank and I’ll forever look back on that time with fondness. 🙂

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    1. Okay, so I’ve never heard of the Lisa Frank Club — how fun! If I had known about it, I would have totally been a member myself.

      I agree that as goofy as some of her designs were, at least they were done with some unique flair. Sure, it was all silly and girly, but back then, we were silly and girly!

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  2. Oh my gosh, Lisa Frank. Even though I was more a child of the 90’s than 80’s, I loved my Lisa Frank stickers and folders and trapper keepers with a PASSION. To this day, part of my brain is *still* obsessed with bright pink and purple, unicorns, and ice cream. 😄 And I like it that way.

    (Oh, I also had a ton of Lisa Frank themed pencils, and giant erasers to go on top of them.)

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    1. Oh man, I remember those pencils! The erasers never really worked, but then again, you wanted to keep them as pretty as possible so it wasn’t like you tried to use them that much..

      I think Lisa Frank’s color palette still defines a large part of my wardrobe today, especially when it comes to mixing bright jewel-tones. Funny how stuff like that sticks with you even though you think it’s long forgotten. 🙂

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