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Dick Frizzell wearing his Kingfisher Bum Hugger design

Dick Frizzell

My Kingfisher artwork is based on a design that my mother used to paint. My mother went to art school. She was arty. She used to copy Goldie portraits onto wooden bowls and get them French polished, and I used to watch her painting, wetting the brush and everything. For this prrint I had my mother's Kingfisher from which I worked out my repeating motif.

Meet the Artist Part 1: Dick Frizzell

Portrait photo and video by Stephen Tilley Video edit by Didi Lagerqvist


Meet the Artist Part 2: How Dick Frizzell is Great Full

On discovering his artistic ability…

I just happened to be the only guy in the class who could draw things, so I just had to draw pictures on everyone's school books and I had to draw the map for geography on the blackboard … whenever anyone needed something to be drawn or painted, coloured in, I was the go-to guy for that. 

On pursuing a career in art…

When I was at art school I got married and we had a wee baby, so I had to be responsible. I started looking for paid work and illustrated for TV shows. In those days it was all analog. So I'd do these coloured crayon drawings while the reader would flip the pages. And record covers, magazine stories and murals in coffee shops – there was always something needed doing.  

And the most wonderful thing in a peculiar kind of way is that I had no ambitions. Well, I had ambitions to be an artist, but I didn't have anything to say. I didn't know what being an artist meant – what did you do? The story of an original voice and everything else didn't exist because at art school we were so far from the centre – Paris and New York and whatever – that when you studied art and made art, you just made art that looked like art.

On pushing through boundaries…

As a young artist I didn't sort of see myself as a disruptor, but I knew what a point of difference meant, which is the same thing, isn't it?  I took everything you weren't meant to do and then just did it. And that immediately it was like, "Hello, here I am."  

On publishing a book about art…

People are always saying to me that I should write a book about my ideas and my thinking. And so I started to write that, examining my thinking. Art school and cubism is the first time I got wind of an original idea of my own when listening to and reading all the received wisdom by art writers. And revisiting that got me thinking, "Well, I'm not sure they've got it 100% right actually." I think cubism is more organic than that. I think it's like card shuffling, which I wasn't reading about. Now I've got a publisher and it's all happening. Why I'm excited about the book is that there's a book!   

Dick Frizzell signing his Kingfisher artwork for Great Full's project.
It's all about art of all kinds at Dick Frizzell's studio.
There's plenty to discover at Dick Frizzell's studio in Auckland, New Zealand.

On working through a creative block…

It's the starting that stops most people. In all art – songs, poems and plays, too – people say, “I’m not ready. I haven’t done enough homework. I don't feel suitably informed.” And I'm thinking, “Just do it and see what happens.” We're all geniuses when something’s in our head. But when you pull it out of your head and put it down, externalising it, then you can see it and react to it and start editing it. But you can never react to it, or edit it until you get it out of your head. There's just no way.  

On advice for those starting out…

You can overthink for a start. And you shouldn't second guess yourself. Moving faster than the speed of thought's a good one. You do make a few mistakes, but boy oh boy, you cover a lot of ground. And then you can look back at what worked and what didn't. And to think of, "Well, I would do more of that." (See Part 3 for more from Dick Frizzell.)