A vibrant crowd gathered outside of the Art Theatre in Long Beach last Wednesday night. Artists with fresh paint stuck on their clothes, patrons of the art scene and longtime fans of FAFI, the internationally known French artist. One could almost say she is the female equivalent of Sheppard Fairey, creator of Obey, in terms of brand recognition and evolution. FAFI not only created characters with her artwork, but built a whole universe in which these characters existed. How does one even go from painting the neighborhood walls to working with some of most iconic fashion brands and celebrities in the world? We were about to find out. Jeff Staple’s “1-2-1” series made it’s way to Long Beach and all eyes and ears were on FAFI as she divulged on her world we’ve all come to recognize.
It’s hard to imagine that FAFI might have never entered the art world, her parents were not artists and she was enrolled in nursing school. She had a passion for painting but never thought she could pursue it as a career. Her first wall piece was just a few doors down from her parents house and she absolutely hated it. But she kept on painting, admitting that the thrill of painting at night and the risk of getting arrested was one of the reasons she continued to do it. This hobby was secretly giving her little signs and directions, all leading to a full time career as an artist.
“This gypsy life would better suit my personality.”
From her time at Collette, projects in and around Paris, and to her art shows in Japan, FAFI was set to take the art world by storm, one heart filled cheek at a time. Brands started to see her mass appeal, which led to numerous collaborations, including adidas, MAC Cosmetics, Chanel, and LeSportsac. Her life was fast paced, colorful and she was in the center of the art world.
“You can easily lose yourself.”
The corporate collaborations were definitely big steps for FAFI, but she made sure never to lose the artist inside her. These collabs were merely a means to get to the next project. She then decided that drawing her now well-known female characters did not challenger her any longer, so she started to build non-human characters and a fantasy world in which all her creations called home.
These days, FAFI is busy working on a second comic book, directing music videos and even owning a restaurant in Paris called Miss Banh Mi.
Look out for WOPS (Walk On the Pink Side), an art and music festival she’s creating in her home town of Paris. All happening within a few days in October, the festival will consist of workshops, musical acts and various art projects spread throughout the city.
Big thanks to the team of Pow! Wow! Long Beach, Imprint Lab and Jeff Staple.
Photos by Phillip Cendana.