Frostic was born in Sandusky, Michigan to Sara and Fred Frostic. When she was 8 months old she suffered from an unknown illness which left her with lifelong symptoms similar to cerebral palsy. Despite physical difficulties Frostic showed an early interest and aptitude for art. In June 1924 she graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, where she was known for using a band saw to create event posters for her school. She continued her studies at Eastern Michigan University earning her teacher's certificate and gaining membership in Alpha Sigma Tau sorority. In 1926 she transferred to Western Michigan University and left in 1927 without completing her degree. She continued her artistic endeavors in metal and plastic, while occasionally teaching, but with the war came a lack of metal to work with and she turned to linoleum block carving. Frostic then turned her linoleum block carving into stationery goods and prints which led to her starting her own printing company, Presscraft Papers. In the early 1950s Frostic opened up a shop selling her prints, books, and other items in Frankfort and in 1960 she bought 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land in Benzonia with the intention of moving herself and her shop. On April 26, 1964 her new shop was open for business and she lived there until her death in 2001. The shop is still open.
Frostic was granted several honorary doctorates from Alma College, Eastern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, and Ferris State University. In 1978 the governor of Michigan declared May 23 as Gwen Frostic Day in Michigan. In 1986 she was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.
Western Michigan University named its school of art after her in 2007, after her 13 million dollar bequest to the University in 2001: the Gwen Frostic School of Art. While given as an unrestricted bequest, the funds have primarily been used for scholarships for students, and for the benefit of the arts and creative writing departments in particular, in respect to her lifelong pursuits.
- My Michigan (1957)
- A Walk With Me (1958)
- These Things Are Ours (1960)
- To Those Who See (1965)
- Wing-borne (1967)
- Wisps of Mist (1969)
- A Place on Earth (1970)
- Beyond Time (1971)
- Contemplate (1973)
- The Enduring Cosmos (1976)
- Interlochen: An Unfinished Symphony (1977)
- The Infinite Destiny (1978)
- The Evolving Omnity (1981)
- The Caprice Immensity (1983)
- Multiversality (1985)
- Heuristic (1987)
- Chaotic Harmony (1989)
- Abysmal-Acumen (1991)
- Aggrandize (1993)
- Synthesis (1995)
- Ruminate (1997)
- Lilies of the Fields (1999)
- "Meet Gwen". GwenFrostic.com. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
- "The 2001 Slate 60". Slate. 2001. Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
- James, Sheryl (March 1, 1999). "Gwen Frostic: Michigan artist crafts nature into a rich life". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on 2001-05-06. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
- The Anchor of Alpha Sigma Tau, June 1926, p. 19.
- "Gwen Frostic". The Michigan Women's Historical Center and Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
- "Frostic School of Art named for famed alumna, artist". WMU News. April 27, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
- Glaser, Jodi Sue (1988) "Illumination the Work and Life of Gwen Frostic" (senior honors thesis, Brandeis University).