Frizzell graduated from Ilam Art School, Canterbury, New Zealand in 1964. In 1970 he became a graphic artist in advertising. It was while in this environment that he began to take familiar objects from their usual context and turn them into arresting images. Several products that were ‘household names’ to New Zealanders in the late 1970s became icons in Frizzell’s hands.
Throughout his long career, Frizzell has demonstrated an abundance of natural talents. While primarily a painter, Frizzell also produces an extensive range of works on paper, including lithographs and screen prints. He moves easily from pencil on paper to oil or enamel paint and his works encompass large murals and floating sculptures. Frizzell has mastered nearly every style – naïve, cubist, abstract and realist included. His work can best be described as expressionist pop (Warwick Brown) in its appropriation of Kiwiana icons and incorporating them into his often cartoon-like paintings and screenprints. Frizzell is responsible for the lithograph ‘Mickey to Tiki’ (1997) and the consequent screenprint ‘It’s About Time’ (‘Mickey to Tiki Tu Meke’) 2007. This has now become the best selling print in New Zealand. Frizzell’s work portrays a sense of exuberance, ironic humour and baby-boomer nostalgia. An anti-traditionalist, Frizzell often makes a deliberate effort to mix up the categories of high and low art – poking fun at the intellectualisation of ‘high art’ and existential angst of much New Zealand painting in the art culture of his youth.