Debra Franses was born in London in 1967. Raised by an art teacher and an international handbag fittings agent for the luxury brands market, Debra herself was exposed to a unique outlook on art and fashion from a young age, which helped develop her intriguing style. She studied Politics and Economics at the University of Manchester and initially pursued a career in advertising, before enrolling at Central St Martins School of Art (2002-2005) and creating Artbag.
It was whilst she was at art school that the idea for Artbags first materialized. Debra took a beautiful handbag from a top couture house and adapted it into a silicone mould for casting. Whilst the first bag was sculpted in heavy white plaster, her next bag, ‘Catch’, was cast in resin and featured a goldfish inside a tank of water, mounted on a plinth. Her first pieces were highly autobiographical, as, through these, Debra visualized how she was feeling about various areas of her life. Her ideas now are to explore consumption and the complex relationship with material objects both as consumable fashion goods but also as harbingers of memories, love, and aspirations. With their kitschy elements, her works are a clear nod to pop art, brought into the digital age; now more than ever, how we curate and display the emblems that we love, and they, in turn, curate and display us. She has since lived and worked in New York, Europe and London, where she is now based.