Lisa Frank made us love rainbow-colored unicorns, but who the heck is she? (2023)

Be still, our ’80s/’90s hearts. The queen of unicorns, rainbows and lovable, huggable aliens has just made all of our adult dreams come true: Lisa Frank is creating adult coloring books.

(Video) Coloring Lisa Frank Hippie Girl Rainbow Coloring Page Prismacolor Markers | KiMMi THE CLOWN

If you were a tween at any point in the late ’80s or ’90s, there’s a solid chance you carried around your Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper or lunchbox, as if the crazy-colorful image on the front was an extension of who you really were on the inside, behind all that preteen angst. Even when you were having a bad day, which probably happened a lot in seventh grade, you could count on Frank’s psychedelic, upbeat images of bunnies wearing tutus, butterflies and panda bears to remind you that California was a real place and you could pack up your bags and move there as soon as you turned 18 (anyone else share similar Frank-induced hallucinations)?

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It makes total sense that the artist and businesswoman who spoke to us when we were little girls could continue to hit a nerve with us today — and I can’t think of a better alcohol-free way to de-stress than by taking a brand new Crayola to one of Frank’s iconic unicorns. Frank’s coloring books won’t be available until next month (when they will be sold at Dollar General). In the meantime, let’s celebrate the woman who got us through middle school by acknowledging that she is a very interesting person, indeed. Here are 11 facts you may not know about Frank.

Her parents were artistic and she enjoyed a privileged childhood

Frank was born in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and attended the elite Kingswood School with fellow famous alum like Mitt and Ann Romney. As a child, both of her parents set an artistic example by collecting and creating art, and she was sent to art classes from the time she was 5. Surprise, surprise: Frank described herself in an interview with Urban Outfitters‘ blog as a “girly girl,” who was super into coloring.

(Video) Coloring Lisa Frank Unicorn Rainbow Coloring Book Page Prismacolor Colored Pencil | KiMMi THE CLOWN

Frank was an art star before she graduated high school

So much for waiting tables after school — Frank was instead making a killing in the ’70s by selling her art to bigwigs like Lee Iacocca, the former CEO of Chrysler. Before she even packed her bags for college, Frank had pulled in $3,000 in sales from her artwork.

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She founded her company before she turned 25

Frank was too busy getting her boss on to suffer a quarter-life crisis. She was just 24 years old in 1979, when she founded Lisa Frank Incorporated. Though she was born and raised in Michigan, Frank moved to Tucson, Arizona, to attend the University of Arizona, and her company’s headquarters are still situated in the city.

She knew right away her bears and unicorns were special

It’s one thing to be creative and quite another to be both creative and have a nose for business. Frank proved she could hustle when she began selling Native American jewelry she found in Tucson for even more money to folks back home in Michigan. When she realized they were just eating up all of the cute teddy bears and unicorns, she actually started giving the artists advice on what they should create.

(Video) Lisa Frank - Giant Art & Activity Set Unboxing & Review!

Frank’s first business idea was for colorful plastic jewelry

Had Shark Tank existed back then, a 20-year-old Frank would have wowed all of the Sharks with her Sticky Fingers plastic jewelry collection, which consisted of the usual Frank suspects like technicolor charm bracelets with plastic fruit. Her line was so popular it was even picked up by Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus.

Those unicorns we love? Frank was totally not into them at first

Frank was a serious abstract artist inspired by masters like Jasper Johns. And even after realizing she had a “commercial sense,” as she told Foundations, she had trouble allowing herself to create the unicorns that every girl wanted to buy. “At first I didn’t want to do unicorns,” Frank said. “The artist in me said no. Then I thought wait a minute this is commercial art. Let’s do what’s going to sell. So that’s how that happened.”

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No, she wasn’t on drugs

Here’s a tidbit that probably escaped you in middle school: A lot of people assumed Frank was high on psychedelics or some other interesting drug when she created her eccentric art. Sorry, but she addressed the rumors with Foundations and confirmed she was straight: “I think the reason I made what I made is because I’m unconventional,” she said. “I am who I am. You read stuff about me; people think it was all influenced by drugs. You couldn’t do what I did if I was on drugs.”

(Video) Coloring Lisa Frank Frog Rainbow Heart Coloring Page Prismacolor Pencils | KiMMi THE CLOWN

Frank’s company was huge until she started dating her now ex-husband

In 2005, Frank divorced James Green, who was a CEO and co-shareholder of Lisa Frank Incorporated. But before their split, all hell had started to break loose at Lisa Frank’s headquarters, according to interviews given to Jezebel. Green, a former in-house illustrator and designer, apparently moved up the corporate ladder after the couple started dating in 1983 or 1984, and Frank later relinquished control of the company to Green after the two married and had children. One former employee went as far as saying Green “really turned that place into a shit hole. The guy’s kind of a dick.” Ouch. Green’s management style was described as “oppressive” and the corporate culture itself “hostile.” There were rumors that he had an affair and did cocaine — and no one was shocked when they announced their divorce in 2005.

Frank may have been into cocaine at that time

Listen, a bad relationship will lead you down some seriously shitty paths and this isn’t confirmed by Frank herself, but a former employee named Kyle claimed to Jezebel co-workers found a letter written to Frank by a friend who thanked her for the fun time they had in New York “freebasing” and “whoring around.” This made everyone question whether Frank was really working from home as she claimed or into a bit of mischief.

Frank’s divorce was brutal

If you think your divorce was hell on Earth, get a load of this: From 2005 until 2009, Frank, Green and his reported lover Rhonda Rowlette were involved in no fewer than nine court battles over company-related matters. All the while, Frank has fought tooth and nail to regain control over her company — and the court finally had her back. Sadly, all of this relationship nonsense took precedence over Frank’s plans to expand her company by creating a Fantastic World of Lisa Frank theme park and even TV shows that would compete with Disney.

Frank named two characters after her children

Their marriage wasn’t meant to be, but Frank and Green’s union produced two sons who inspired Frank to create two characters — a rainbow print tiger and tiger cub — that have since become her favorites, she shared with Urban Outfitters’ blog. “Forrest is based on my 13-year-old, and Hunter is a 17-year-old character who was named the day Hunter was born,” she said. “We had created both characters before the boys were born, and then when they were born, we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, they really do fit their personalities!’”

(Video) Coloring Lisa Frank Pegasus Coloring Book Page Prismacolor Colored Pencil | KiMMi THE CLOWN

Frank is so private it’s nearly impossible to find a photo of her

She’s positively lovely. She has Instagram and Twitter, but when you search for photos of Lisa Frank, you’re going to find a lot of rainbows. You’ll even find photos of Mila Kunis, who was the star of Lisa Frank commercials, but just two actual photos of the businesswoman — here and here, in case you’re dying of curiosity. “You know, I’m not playing hard to get on purpose,” Frank told Foundations. “It’s just that I do what I do because I love what I do. I never did it for fame, fortune, or publicity. As a matter of fact I didn’t even take advantage of it at all. Probably stupidly so … I’m not a big spotlight person.”

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:


What is the name of the Lisa Frank unicorn? ›

The unicorns' names are Markie and Skye.

Who is Lisa Frank husband? ›

Who owns Lisa Frank? ›

Lisa Frank Incorporated
FounderLisa Frank
HeadquartersTucson, Arizona , United States
Key peopleLisa Frank, CEO James Green, former CEO
2 more rows

How much is the Lisa Frank warehouse? ›

The space has been for sale for years, with a $17 million asking price, according to the realtor's website. It's a unique offering — a giant rainbow explosion in the dry desert of Tucson, Arizona. Weeds have grown over the parking lots and the colorful paint is chipping off the 30 empty loading dock doors.

What does Lisa mean? ›

Regardless of the language, Lisa's meaning is spiritual; the name is said to mean "oath from God," "devoted to God," or "my God is bountiful." The Hebrew meaning is derived from the name Elisheba, which also references the lily flower.

How old is Lisa Frank now? ›

What happened to Lisa Franks? ›

As the company took off in the '80s and '90s, it moved into a 320,000-square-foot factory in Tucson in 1996, but all good things come to an end. By 2013, only six of the company's 500 employees remained. Today, the factory still stands on Lisa Frank Avenue, proud but empty.

How much did Lisa Frank make? ›

Lisa Frank net worth: Lisa Frank is an American businesswoman who has a net worth of $200 million. Lisa Frank is best known for founding Lisa Frank Incorporated which produces school supplies and similar products.

Is Lisa Frank making a comeback? ›

The almost disastrous state of the company's former HQ is not an accurate portrayal of its current popularity. Lately – and despite the appearance of her former office building – Frank has made a comeback.

Was Mila Kunis in a Lisa Frank commercial? ›

In the early '90s, Mila Kunis starred in a commercial for Lisa Frank stationary.

What is the name of the Lisa Frank Tiger? ›

Lisa Frank - Our sweet tiger, Forrest, turns 20 today.... | Facebook.

Where is the Lisa Frank headquarters? ›

Its popularity rose, and in 1996 this 320,000-square-foot factory opened in Tucson, Arizona and paid tribute to the company's line of cutesy, rainbow products. It even features a rainbow loading dock and pink glass entry.

Is Lisa Frank still being sold? ›

The Lisa Frank manufacturing building is now empty. There are no employees that work at the factory or manufacturing happening. It's been for sale for many years and will likely sit empty until sold. While Lisa Frank still has a company, there is no manufacturing today at Lisa Frank Inc.

What does the name Karen mean? ›

Karen is a pejorative term for a white woman perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is normal. The term is often portrayed in memes depicting white women who use their white privilege to demand their own way.

Is Mark a Bible name? ›

Mark has also been thought to mean “god of war” and “warlike.” Mark is a common biblical name, popularized by Mark, the evangelist who authored the second Gospel in the New Testament of the Bible. St. Mark is the patron saint of Venice. Mark became a popular name in English-speaking regions in the 19th century.

Is Lisa in the Bible? ›

Lisa is a short form of the biblical name Elizabeth.

What medium does Lisa Frank use? ›

1971-1972. Painted while Frank was a student at Kingswood School for Girls. Photo courtesy of Carly Mark for Foundations magazine, 2015. Frank's work at Cranbrook was abstract, using acrylic on Masonite or canvas, and sometimes incorporating paper on the canvas for additional texture.

Is Lisa Frank popular? ›

As the pop culture of the '90s itself have had a resurgence in recent years, Lisa Frank's designs have also undergone a boost in popularity.

What commercials were popular in the 80s? ›

Popular 80s Commercials
  • “How Many Licks?” – Tootsie Pop.
  • “1984” – Apple.
  • “Where's the Beef?” – Wendy's.
  • “Peter Comes Home” – Folgers.
  • “Piano Recital” – McDonald's.
  • “New Neighbors” – Diet Pepsi.
  • “My Buddy and Kid Sister” – Hasbro.
  • “R.O.B.” – Nintendo.
26 Oct 2022

Was Mila Kunis on Days of Our Lives? ›

But long before she was living in the 70s, Kunis was spending some time in Salem in the 90s. After scoring gigs in two commercials, Kunis' first major role was as a young Hope Williams on Days of Our Lives during a flashback in a 1994 episode.

Who are the actresses in the Gillionaire commercial? ›

Demi Moore and Mila Kunis Share a Lot in Common in AT&T's 'Gigillionaire' Ad.

Who is Mr Frank in Browning Version? ›

Frank Hunter is the dynamic young science teacher who is having an affair with Millie Crocker-Harris. He is well-liked by the pupils at the school but fears that his relationship with them is too informal and friendly, undermining his efforts as an educator.

When did Morphe Lisa Frank come out? ›

Lisa Frank teamed up with Morphe in 2020 to release a vibrant makeup collection that reminded some people of colorful cartoons from their childhoods.

Who is the main character in Phoebe and her unicorn? ›

What's the Story? In the PHOEBE AND HER UNICORN series, 9-year-old Phoebe is a happy misfit weirdo whose best friend is a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils.

What is Phoebe's unicorn name? ›

Freed from the trap of gazing at her own reflection in the pond, the unicorn—named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils—gives Phoebe one wish, which she decides to use by making the unicorn her best friend. Marigold, like all unicorns in the series, is experienced in magic.

Does Phoebe have a crush on Max in Phoebe and her unicorn? ›

Phoebe Grizelda Howell

Phoebe is one of Max's best friends. They met in school as spelling partners. Phoebe had a crush on him at this time, but it is unknown if it still stands.

Who sent the unicorn in Charmed? ›

Among the gifts was a Unicorn with a card around its neck saying it was from "From El". Paige originally believed it was sent by someone in Spain, though after magic had disappeared, Phoebe reasoned it had come from the Elders instead to help them.

Who is Phoebe's crush? ›

Phoebe has been crushing on a boy called Dylan. She evens drools over a picture of Dylan.

What type of character is Phoebe? ›

Personality. Phoebe is a sweet-natured but odd guitar player. Having experienced nothing like a normal, complete childhood, Phoebe is often very dim-witted, sometimes smart and is in some regards still a child at heart. She believed Santa Claus existed, until Joey told her otherwise.

How is Phoebe a symbol of innocence? ›

Phoebe is fundamental in this tale as she serves as Holden's symbol for the trait he seems to treasure most: innocence. She remains virtually untouched by the things that Holden has been resisting throughout his life that have threatened to taint his sense of identity.


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