Paul Frank and Julius the Monkey

One day in 1995, Paul Frank, an American cartoonist, artist and fashion designer, used some spare orange vinyl to create a wallet. It sparked such interest that Paul soon found himself spending every spare moment sewing vinyl — attaching patches to garments, decorating backpacks, and designing custom guitar straps for cohorts in the Orange County music scene.

Frank has also collaborated with many bands including Bad Religion, Every Time I Die, Radiohead, The Vandals, Alkaline Trio, Atreyu, Tool, Gorilla Biscuits, The Aquabats, and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Other musical collaborations include the Coachella festival, Lollapalooza, and Los Angeles radio station KROQ.

Paul’s creations have adorned clothing, accessories, and other products. Julius the Monkey is probably Frank’s best-known character and appears in a wide variety of media and collections. Other characters he has made are Worry Bear, a bear; Spicoli, a hamster; Ellie, an elephant; and Clancy, a small giraffe.

Paul Frank, Julius Monkey

Designer Paul Frank and his creation Julius the monkey. Photograph by Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times

One day Paul made Ryan Heuser, a local fan of Paul’s music, a wallet. The two had previously met each other in passing, but Heuser was taken aback by Paul’s gift and a friendship was formed between the two, and Paul Frank Industries (Paul Frank clothing, Paul Frank accessories and Paul Frank watches) was realized. Paul Frank Industries is currently housed in Costa Mesa, California.

Frank collaborates with other artists and companies, including Mattel, Oscar Mayer, Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, Wahoo’s Fish Taco, SHAG, John Deere, Nirve Bicycles, Obey Giant, ProKeds shoes, Mark Ryden, Thomas Campbell, Hello Kitty, and Lego.

Frank also contributes fine art pieces to charity’s, events and museum exhibitions. The most famous piece of his art being Julius the Monkey.

Trouble started brewing when Paul, depending on who you asked, was either fired or quit PFI. It all started when the people who surrounded Paul, and helped him rise to the level of success, started saying “You are not Paul Frank”, “WE are Paul Frank”. That is how it started that Paul Frank was no longer the artist but a corporate entity that, again depending on who you ask, was either stolen from Paul Frank, or corporately pirated.

Frank currently heads and is owner of new design studios Treestitch Design, Inc. and Park La Fun. He’s not been affiliated with Paul Frank Industries since November 2005, and as of 2006 filed a suit against his former business partners at PFI. He alleges he was fired and pushed out of the partnership. He also alleges he is now being prevented from using his own name to pursue other opportunities in the field of design.

His new label includes brand new characters, and a more hands-on, personal approach with his new creations. The new line includes handbags, wallets, t-shirts, and other accessories all personally designed by Paul Frank himself.

Paul Frank became a worldwide success, led by bright colors, vinyl fabric, and unique characteristics. The company has a cult-like following that love to wear Paul Frank clothing, accessories and Paul Frank wrist watches.

The old adage of keep your friends close but your enemies closer, sorta has a bit new meaning now. What say you?

I’d like to hear what you think of this whole scandal? Please comment and discuss below.

Thanks, Darkman.

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