In a world where creativity meets climate consciousness, we are thrilled to present an exclusive interview with the exceptional artist and activist, Rick Frausto. With his captivating pen and ink drawings, Frausto has woven a tapestry of visual storytelling that transcends boundaries and inspires change. Join us as we delve into his artistic journey, exploring the profound impact of his work and the unwavering resilience it ignites within us all. From the majestic beauty of nature to the urgent call for climate action, Frausto’s art serves as a powerful reminder that sustainable living and creative expression can intertwine to shape a brighter future. Get ready to be captivated by his unique perspective, as we uncover the journey of the incredible artivist, Rick Frausto.
Rick, please tell us your backstory. How and why did you become an artist?
I began creating art as soon as I could get my hands on paints, mud, and anything that helped me express myself. The creative life is the only life I’ve ever known. For me, being an artist has been a calling rather than a career choice. As a young man, I began a formal practice starting with ceramics. From there it evolved into found object sculpture which was my focus for over two decades. In 2017 I embarked on a journey of full-time travel. That’s when I transitioned into pen and ink drawings.
Can you please tell us what inspires you to create your artwork?
Nature is my biggest inspiration. The word ART lies at the heart of our planet’s name – Earth. Trees have always been one of my favorite subjects. I’m also very inspired by the resilience of the human spirit and greatly admire those who possess the courage to stand up for what they believe in. Pop culture is a big influence too.
You have a very unique style of creating your artwork with pen and ink. Why did you choose this medium?
For over seven years, I was the Art Director for a company in Hollywood that required a daily commute. I decided to sell my car and use public transportation instead. Spending many hours each day on the train gave me a lot of time and the inspiration to start drawing again…something I’d done prior to getting into sculpture but had put on the back-burner. During that time, I did observational drawings daily. Initially, that’s how it started. The catalyzing moment, however, was when I was traveling with my uncle on a train from St. Louis to Chicago. I had my sketchbook with me as I always did. We were having a great conversation that led to this quote he remembered:
“There was an old owl, who lived in an oak.
The more he saw the less he spoke.
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that bird?”
That quote was the first one I based a drawing around. It came about very spontaneously. When I was done, someone from across the aisle said, “I really like that drawing, keep it up!” That person was none other than Joan Haring, the mother of the legendary artist, Kieth Haring. How’s that for encouragement?!
I didn’t fully realize the power of using quotes in my drawings until September 2016, when I learned of the Native American protests at the Standing Rock reservation. I was moved to create something in response to the Water Protector’s heroic fight. That’s when I created the Native American Proverb drawing. I posted it on Instagram and went about my day. A few weeks later I started receiving messages from friends who reported they’d been seeing that drawing everywhere on social media. After some digging, I found that several celebrities had reposted it (without credit) which ultimately led to it going viral and becoming one of the iconic images of the No DAPL movement. It made me aware of the power of pairing a quote with an image, which led to the drawings that I’m best known for these days.
As an artivist, do you think different forms of art can play a significant role to motivate people to take action in their daily lives, especially now, when the climate crisis is getting intensified with every passing day?
Absolutely! I’ve seen and felt it deeply first-hand. I’ve had folks reach out to tell me how much my work has helped them see or understand a heavy subject in such a way that made them feel empowered rather than being in despair. The greatest gift I can give through my work at this moment is hope.
How do you think artists can collaborate to make the climate movement stronger and more fruitful?
My approach is to work with people and organizations that are aligned with my values when it comes to climate conservation. It feels good to be collaborating with those who are making a real impact. It’s all about action in the right direction.
What’s your take on climate optimism as an artist/artivist?
I do think we already know how to prevent things from getting worse and these are the very things that need support in order to change things for real.
Going back to the land, earth stewardship programs, listening to our native elders. Nature heals our mind, body, and soul. We have to protect it in order to protect ourselves and future generations.
Do you have a favorite piece of art of yours? Tell us about that.
My artworks are like my children, so it’s hard to say which one is my favorite.
All I can say is the one I’m currently working on is always my favorite at that moment. Each piece is a stepping stone to the next, so they really are all connected.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
I’m inspired by so many. Those who show true inner strength and courage in the face of unthinkable odds light my fire. Those who shine bright and lift up people make my heart sing. Those who show up and help those in need with no hesitation give me so much hope. Those who possess sacred knowledge and have the power to heal make me want to learn more. So many people inspire me.
How do you define success?
To me, success is staying true to yourself and following your own path.
If you stick with it long enough you will meet the people you are meant to cross paths with and find out the things you need to know to make you happy.
What’s your mantra for life?
Health is wealth.
This is a part of a series where Green & Beyond Mag explores the stories and takes a peek at the lifestyles of incredible people like green entrepreneurs, innovators, climate advocates, activists, community leaders, and content creators, all around the world, who love the planet, and are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.