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    • Zane Franz ’21

    • “Prints,” a collection of some of Franz’s recent screenprint work.

Artist of the Issue: Zane Franz ’21

Zach Williamson ’22 Lead Arts Editor
Zane Franz ’21 has been a prominent member of the Hopkins arts scene since his arrival on campus in ninth grade. His work in music and visual art is plentiful.
Franz releases music on streaming services under the moniker Zane McGlathery. “McGlathery is actually my middle name!” said Franz, “I thought it sounded fancy so I use that.” He classified his music as alternative punk, and described his influences as mostly from “early punk rock, second wave punk rock, and pop-punk,” but said he’s “slowly starting to incorporate less traditional sounds into it.”

Franz describes his debut single released in September 2019, “Our Drugs,” as his “first really good song.” Next came “18,” a seven-minute ballad that he said “got people interested.” Franz refers to this early music as “very bare-bones stuff. It really sounded like demos for the most part, but I’ve been trying to increase my quality since then. I tried to make some brick beats, where I had multiple drum tracks going and lots of drum samples. I’m trying to incorporate some 8-bit retro music into my music as well.”

Franz’s third and latest album, Forgiveness and Other Potentially Life-Threatening Mistakes, was released on January 13, and it marks a departure from the style of some of his earlier work. Forgiveness was produced primarily during the summer of 2020, when new inspiration drove him to create: “I took samples of demos that I had and I pitched them up and sort of treated it like I was a hip-hop producer making a beat. That process was really interesting and it gave me opportunities to do stuff that I had never thought of before.” Franz took inspiration from west-coast band Ultra Q, headed by Jakob Danger, the son of Green Day’s lead singer. Franz reflected on this creative spark: “The band went off to college and then when they all came back home during the summer they had all these brand new ideas. They released an album in March of 2020 that was produced at home just sort of with whatever they had, and that was so inspiring to me.”

Franz began his musical exploration with the piano. “I got bored of that pretty quickly,” Franz quipped. “It’s a fun instrument, but I didn’t appreciate it when I was a kid.” Giving up the piano didn’t mean giving up music. Franz has since learned how to play four other instruments: “I picked up bass because my piano teacher was also a bass teacher, and now that’s really my main instrument, as well as vocals. I was in the Trinity Boys Choir in New Haven for five years, so I got good vocal training from that. I started teaching myself guitar in April 2019, and in March of last year I picked up the drums.”

Franz is both a talented musician and visual artist, and the two often intertwine. In terms of media, Franz “started out drawing. For a while I did pen and ink a lot, and then I focused really heavily on acrylic. Then, last year, I started doing prints with linoleum and that was transformative for me because you have to be very abstract with prints.” Every one of Franz’s digital releases is accompanied by his own cover art, much of which features a character he created, Ruben. Franz explained the backstory behind this persona: “My biggest inspiration as an artist is the band Gorillaz. The band was founded by David Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, and Jimmy Shula is an animator [who often works with Gorillaz] and he has these beautiful characters he’s created. They were super, super influential to me, creating my own sort of visual style. Ruben’s face is the same shape as 2-D’s [one of Gorillaz virtual band members].”

Franz has taken full advantage of the courses offered by the Hopkins Arts Department, having taken “every visual arts class except for woodworking.” Hopkins courses Design Engineering and Design and the Art of Making have influenced him the most: “They were very transformative for me. They’re both taught by [Arts teacher Derek] Byron.” Franz continued, some of the importance of those courses for him: “Mr. Byron is one of the most inspiring teachers. He has such an amazing handle on design and on visual arts in general, and he’s very good at helping me flesh out my ideas.

Other Arts Department faculty have influenced Franz, too: “[Arts teacher R.C.] Sayler has introduced me to so many mediums that I never thought of using before, like printmaking and 3-D media. [Jacqueline] Labelle and [Eric] Mueller helped me a lot with my understanding of color and shape.” Franz also attends the Adae Fine Art Academy outside of Hopkins. He reflected on what he’s learned there: “Mr. Kwadwo Adae is a practicing artist in the New Haven area and he’s taught me so much about how to handle media, make gradients and mix colors, and how to make something look ‘correct.’”

Franz uses art as an outlet. When describing his creative process, he referenced the questions that guide him: “It’s very much spur of the moment. What am I feeling right now? How am I feeling? I figure things out as I go along. My [music] writing process consists of opening up a file on my computer and just playing something. If I like it, I keep it, if I don’t like it, I delete it, and I work from there. Art is very relaxing for me. There are a lot of artists who think very heavily about what they’re going to portray when they’re creating. It’s often not until I’m halfway done with a piece what I actually realize what I was thinking of while I was doing it.”

After Hopkins, Franz hopes “to go to a liberal arts school as a Fine Arts major, and then go to an art school and get a Master’s in industrial design or illustration. My plans musically are to bring on a drummer for my solo project so that I can play live shows without a machine, to have an album out by the summer, and to play as many live shows as I can (once it is safe to do so) both with my band and solo.” Franz’s work is available on all streaming services now.
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