Spotlight | Jodie Franklin, jfrank

where illustration meets architecture

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trained architect Jodie Franklin has delved into the world of illustration.

Her very unique style is unmistakably hers – in fact, when we saw it, we recognised it instantly from a Brisbane homewares store. Now home in Toowoomba, Jodie has been documenting the city’s beautiful original architecture in a new line of illustration work.

We spoke to Jodie about her background in architecture, why she moved back to Toowoomba, and her latest project.

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Name: Jodie Franklin
Occupation: illustrator and owner of jfrank
Known For: the clever application of architecture to illustration
Born: Toowoomba
Local (again) since: 2016

Have you always lived in Toowoomba? Why? If not, where else have you lived, and why did you decide on Toowoomba?

No, I grew up here but moved to Brisbane after school to study architecture. After university I convinced my then boyfriend (now husband) to go to Canada on a working holiday. When we got back, we lived at the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane again but the travel bug had bitten hard so we based ourselves in Manchester, UK while we got acquainted with Europe in 2015/16.

We still both have family in Toowoomba and wanted to start a family after we returned, and here we are. It’s changed so much since when we were growing up here but it’s also a very different experience with a family than a teenager.

What is Jfrank?

jfrank came about in 2013 when I wanted to celebrate the built environment that we have around us but is not often noticed or appreciated. I started by drawing up the bridges and photographing buildings in Brisbane and created cards, bookmarks and posters to sell. 

My latest project is all about Toowoomba – mostly historic buildings that are often lost by shopfronts and awnings but also iconic items like the steamroller at Queens Park. The aim is to collate gorgeous buildings and icons that make Toowoomba what it is, which allows us to appreciate them all the more. I was pleasantly surprised with how many Toowoomba buildings were heritage listed at a national level.

I have had all of the items printed on 100% recycled paper, with the exception of the new A1 poster where I have sadly exhausted my viable options. It means that they aren’t the cheapest option but I like to think that more and more people are making conscious choices to support local and sustainable products, and quality over quantity. It’s really important to do what I can to help the environment, especially since working towards zero-waste at home.

What have you learned about running a business in Toowoomba?

I have been very lucky that the people that I have met on this journey have been very open about allowing their homes to be featured in this project and businesses curious to ask further about it. I usually knock on a door and start with ‘I have a really weird question…’ – thankfully I have had no doors shut in my face! I would usually have never met these people otherwise – it’s a wonderful feeling to make these sometimes fleeting connections and you also get a glimpse into another’s world. I have met so many lovely people that have been willing to give their time and knowledge and to support me in making my crazy idea come to life. I think with Toowoomba being a smaller city, there’s more of a community vibe and people are willing to go the extra mile to support local. 

I am a very determined person and have gone out of my way to make these buildings as accurate as possible and measure where possible with my trusty disto and tape measure. I have found that guessing measurements takes much longer. I have put a lot of detail into these drawings, which is after all what makes it different to the next one. I love that I can use my creative license though to tweak a building to recreate what it used to look like (ie. Air Hair Studio on Russell Street where I’ve added a central entry) or to make the buildings read well on a page (ie. flatten the ground line).

I also check in with a friend fortnightly where we discuss our businesses. It’s been really great to not only be accountable but also share our stuck moments and get clear about what’s next. I think that’s what’s hard when you’re working on something yourself, it can get you down when you get stuck/start making excuses and it can take weeks or months to get back into it. Also, being a mum with a little one she understands that some days or weeks are a write-off and that’s ok.

What does an average day look like for you?

I work three mornings a week doing administration work. I work on jfrank while little Z is napping and most nights. I’m very lucky that I have a supportive husband and family that have been flexible in allowing this project to be realised. 

Depending on where I am with a project, I could be researching at the library, measuring up, drawing up, designing products, packaging or chatting with retailers – that tends to be my process circle.

What does your ideal Toowoomba weekend look like?

I enjoy starting my weekend off by going to the gym, followed by some quiet/work time. In the afternoon we would enjoy some family time at a local park and perhaps meet up with friends. Sunday mornings are the best for a breaky meet up at a cafe. 

Only a Toowoomba local would know…

About the little sanctuary that is Boyce Gardens :-)


PERK UP: The Baker’s Duck – there’s so much energy there and choice of sweets!

RELAX: Laurel Bank Park is gorgeous on a nice day.

EAT: Emeraude – I know it’s technically not in Toowoomba but it’s amazing!

INDULGE: I love desserts and was quite impressed with the dessert and cocktail I had at Muller Bros earlier this year.

SHOP: I really enjoy op-shopping! The Emporium is my go to.

CATCH UP: The Chocolate Cottage in Highfields – lots of room for kids to run around.

BE INSPIRED: Any bookshop.

Find Jfrank here, where you can shop online or find a list of local stockists.


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