Artist Profile: Frances Marin

Frances Marin is the first artist to show work in the gallery at Delta Workshop! We will be having a Second Saturday reception for her tomorrow, Saturday June 8, from 6pm-8pm. Please join us!

Frances is painter, illustrator, cat lover, and creative business person living in San Jose, CA. You can find her on Etsy, Twitter, and she keeps up a great blog. She is also an active member of the SF Etsy team. In addition to her work in the gallery, she has some pieces in the shop, and will be teaching a block printing workshop sometime this summer.

Frances in her studio

Frances in her studio

What do you make?

Examples of Frances' work

I paint, draw, dye and print which gets translated into original art on wood and paper, custom portraits, art prints, occasionally painted jewelry and textile work with printed bags. I sometimes do my own bookbinding and make little journals. I do some illustration work as well.

How long have you been making art?


I’ve been making things since I can remember. This photo, taken by my preschool teacher and mounted to my drawing, kind of sums me up. I can be very serious when I’m working on my art. You can see in the photo that I am working on the same self-portrait that’s in the drawing. My mom grew up watching westerns so she would show me her childhood drawings of ranches and horses and she taught me to sew and embroider. I also have family members on both sides that influenced me. My aunt in Costa Rica would paint these beautiful butterflies and birthday cards on parchment paper, which I treasured. My grandma from Costa Rica taught me to crochet when she came to live with us for an extended period and my aunts were very encouraging, teaching me to knit and more. When I was little, I would copy greeting cards and comics, invent my own illustrated stories, books and made a ton of fashion and house designs, many of which I still have.

What materials do you use, and why are you drawn to them?
I use salvaged wood scraps and water-based media including acrylic, gouache, watercolor pencil and inks, depending on the need. I’m drawn to old pieces of wood because of the textures and history. I have been quite in love with gouache, watercolor and inks lately. I just love the way it flows across the paper or is reworkable/reusable on your palette. Lately, I am feeling less stuck with using one medium and I am really open to exploring or revisiting other mediums like linoleum block printing, fabric dyeing and screen printing. In the last year, I am really trying to be more conscious when it comes to materials, but it is really hard to find art materials that aren’t even somewhat toxic. I try to use biodegradable packaging and recycled materials when I can.

What’s your workspace like?


My workspace is a 10×10 bright yellow room with one full windowed wall in a brick warehouse. At first, the yellow was too much for me and I thought I would repaint it the first chance I got. I think the fact that I would have to move everything out to do so combined with it growing on me has made me keep it. The windowed wall facing the street has white curtains over it and above that, texture glass where I can see the bright blue California sky, which complements the yellow walls nicely. It is a crowded little space with records, plants, a printing/shipping area and a lot of supplies. I also have a few shelves of books for inspiration.

What are your influences? Artists, music, places, nature, anything…

Influential books

Influences are everywhere. I think about how people behave (or misbehave!), I see patterns and connections in things I read and see and I try to paint them. I’m really interested in synchronicity, subconscious, history and alchemy. I love music and always have it going. I get outside and hike, camp or road trip as much as I can. I also don’t have a car anymore so I see a lot on my bike.

What inspires you?
Going to work everyday. Aside from the outside world, you have to be in your workspace a lot in order to experiment and get good ideas. When I’m stuck, I exercise and probably more realistically drink a lot of coffee. Also traveling. I’m not one of those been-everywhere world travelers, but I’ve been to some beautiful countries and states and exploring California alone is really inspiring. When I was young, I have the best memories of spending time in the Santa Cruz Mountains at my aunt’s house where we rode their horses and hiked through the woods. My family also explored California on day trips so we spent time at the beach and in beautiful places. I had a good friend growing up whose family and I camped with up and down the West Coast as a teenager and I have done that also as an adult. I also adore children’s books and artists who paint like children.

Who are your favorite artists or designers?
I’ll just name some, but it’s a hard one to answer. Pieter Bruegel, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Stephen Powers, Maira Kalman, Julia Rothman, Neo Rauch, Ben Shahn, Lynda Barry, Vera Neumann, Souther Salazar, friend’s work…I’ll just stop there.

What is something you’ve always wanted to learn?

Frances' painting of Golfito, Costa Rica, where her dad was born

Frances’ painting of Golfito, Costa Rica, where her dad was born

I want to learn to sail a boat on my own and I want to learn how to build or fix up a vehicle to travel in. I plan on getting an old camper or van and completely redoing the interior. I also want to learn more traditional crafts and methods so that I can live in the mountains or on an island and be completely self-sufficient. So far, I can build very basic things, knit, crochet, sew, paint, garden… I still have a ways to go.

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