Global Track Interview: Marcine Franckowiak Explains How She Became the First Woman at Colossal Media

Marcine Franckowiak talks about the trails and tribulations of being a sign painter.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Global Track is our bi-weekly street art column by Rhiannon Platt.

Marcine Franckowiak, a Baltimore-born and New York-based artist, remains one of the strongest individuals in the game, both physically and philosophically. On a daily basis, the artist carries the weight of her rigging, supplies, as well as herself up several stories to recreate images for Colossal Media, a New York-based company that produces large, hand-painted advertisements across the nation. Franckowiak was only hired by Colossal Media in the past year, and she was the first female to obtain an apprenticeship with the company.

Before joining the ranks at Colossal, Franckowiak tried out the gallery scene in San Francisco, but she felt too distant from her viewers. "Galleries separate spectators from the artist, whereas working outside on walls eliminates that separation," she said. Instead, the artist took up mural painting, something that unifies two of her favorite things: manual labor and painting. We spoke to Franckowiak about the time and effort that goes into creating such enormous murals.

Global Track Interview: Marcine Franckowiak Explains How She Became the First Woman at Colossal Media

What is your artistic background?
I got my undergrad at San Francisco Art Institute with a concentration in painting realism. My mentor, Brett Reichman, who is currently the head of the painting department there, gave me the basis for my painting skills. I later got my MFA at Pratt in 2009 in painting, but I also concentrated in aesthetic philosophy.

Do you practice outside of working at Colossal Media?
I try to work on my paintings on my days off; however, we put in a lot of hours per week, so it's hard to find time to concentrate on my own work. However, working for Colossal is rewarding enough, so I'm not bothered that my own art is on the backburner for now.

What was the application process like at Colossal?
I spent four years trying to get an apprenticeship with Colossal. To gain more experience, I moved to Philly and worked with the Philadelphia Mural Organization. I had also volunteered with Groundswell Mural Project, a great community-based organization that works with inner-city youth. I had a mutual friend bring my application to the Colossal shop and got an interview. A few weeks later, I had a second interview and got offered the apprenticeship. I've been here for a year so far.

What was the attitude like being the first woman at the company?
It was a little hard at first, but after awhile the guys started to treat me like everyone else and expect the same work ethic as anyone else who works for the company.

Do you feel certain expectations for yourself in this role?
I just feel like I need to be able to help complete a job like everyone else. Sure, there are setbacks—I'm short, less physically strong, etc.—but I am still figuring out how to resolve my shortcomings and use my own strengths and experience to make up for them.

What has been the most difficult part of the job?
Before I got this apprenticeship, I had never used a socket wrench. Painting is only a percentage of this job. We also do our own rigging. Learning to rig walls safely and the heavy lifting that comes with it has been a challenge. I'm going slow but steady on that front; however, I'm really into being able to confidently rig, and I'm working on building my physical strength as well.

What has working with Colossal taught you?
Working with Colossal has taught me the importance and rewards of hard work as well as the trade skill of sign painting. Everyday I learn a whole bunch of new amazing shit.

Do you have any advice for women breaking into new roles like yours?
Women can do anything they want. Just make sure the work ethic is there, and don't stop trying to do whatever you want. It's been a beautiful fight, and it still is.

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