text by Jessica Dollin
photos courtesy of Hyla Frank
While studying textiles at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Frank started doodling on paper, sewing the tiny drawings onto fabric, and then permanently inking them on her body.
The process for creating the pillows and throws begins with a line drawing on a piece of paper, which is projected onto Belgian linen. Frank free stitches thin lines by hand creating small lines and uses a sewing machine for thicker outlines.
Around the time she was 20-years-old, artist Hyla Frank got her hands on a professional tattooing machine and started practicing on herself. Although the stick and poke method is more of a DIY approach usually involving a needle, thread, ink, and some courage--her tattoos are similar in their minimalist black ink design.
Today, she plays her body art off of her interior designs. “I have tattoos of things I’ve done on fabric first, and tattoos that turned into fabrics,” she said.
Frank finds inspiration from her own experiences and those of her friends. When she started getting into interior design as a student, she sewed architectural structures onto pillows. When she was homesick for Los Angeles, she stitched palm trees. A friend rides a Porsche FRX so, naturally, she put it on a pillow.
Some of the most requested designs are stringy portraits of dogs, and other pets like bunnies and horses.
Now that Frank has the pillow thing down, her next canvas is clothing.
“I’m a terrible drawer so I let go of the notion that things needed to look realistic or clean,” Frank said.
As a student Frank had extra fabric laying around from school projects, so she started giving some away to friends.
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