Press/Grafitti Artist La petite artiste brings the street to the crib and the crib to the street
rebel against her parents but said she found that graffiti “gave color
to the people in the streets, enlightening their path through the city.” At age 20, she moved to
Paris, where she met fellow street painters Kat and Plume, who took her under their wing. In the early years of her career, her provocative images of sexy, aggressive, cigarette-smoking girls (whom she dubbed “Fafinettes”) became her calling card, a response to an otherwise male-dominated graffiti scene.
By Margeaux Baulch While in New York in March to promote her Fafi for LeSportsac collection of handbags and accessories, French graffiti artist Fafi couldn’t resist taking an excursion uptown to paint a mural and be “a Bronx chic for a few hours” despite a hectic schedule of personal appearances and events. Over the French electronica blasting at yet another converted warehousecum-club space in New York’s tragically hip Meatpacking District, she talked about her jam-packed schedule of continent-hopping, including stops in Japan to promote her Adi-
das shoe collection and a spring live graffiti tour in Australia. The latter event is called the Curvy tour and is sponsored by YEN magazine, which some people informally consider to be “the Australian Venus Zine.” A petite, dark-haired woman with blunt bangs and a mischievous smile, Fafi resembles Amélie Poulain’s slightly punkier sister, wearing a purple satin jacket emblazoned with the phrase “most official bitches” and wedge platform shoes. She made her way to the center of the launch party where an easel waited for her, and without any introduc-
tion, she started painting amid the popping flashes of photographers, loud music, and a screaming crowd of fans. After finishing one of her signature Fafinette girls, she posed for a few pictures with the canvas (which will be later donated to the Lower East Side Girls Club of New York) and then darted out of the party, rockstar-style. Like other artists who have benefited from their street cred, Fafi has turned a career of painting sexy girls into a successful business venture, painting street murals around the world. Unlike graffiti artists who use spray paint, Fafi uses brushes and paints in a very traditional way on unconventional surfaces. In France, Fafi’s brand of fine art and graffiti has made her a household name. She has cultivated a cult-like following among hipster girls of all ages. And her distinctly feminine drawings have appeared on everything from jewelry and clothing to books, dolls, and Diet Coke cans. Even celebrities, including Fergie, have been snapped wearing pieces from her clothing collection. Fafi, 31, started painting as an 18-year-old in her hometown of Toulouse. She initially painted to
But with every passing year, her work evolved to include a collection of other characters she dreamed up including “Birtaks” and “Hillminis.” A cross between, say, a deer and a koala, Birtaks look like huggable, flying creatures; whereas Hillminis are large, blobby creatures. “I didn’t want the Fafinettes to be alone in the world,” she said. Like other graffiti artists, Fafi doesn’t disclose her real name for legal reasons. Although she admits to having been arrested in the past for reasons related to her work, these days she is more likely to be stopped by a fan than a police officer. Since becoming a mother last year (she is married to French music producer DJ Medhi), Fafi’s work has entered what she referred to as a “quieter phase,” inspired by the world of children. Her next big project is to write and illustrate a children’s book, something she has dreamed of doing for years. Her latest collaboration with
handbag company LeSportsac illustrates that wish. No longer satisfied with drawing “just a girl picture,” she was inspired to tell a story of a girl who finds LeSportsac bags blooming in trees while on an Alice in Wonderland type of adventure. Although she said collaborations with companies like LeSportsac are “good for the money” and have even inspired counterfeit Fafi merchandise on eBay, Fafi considers her art and fashion designs to be an extension of her work on the street. “It’s not
“gave color to the people in the streets, enlightening their path through the city.” -FAFI
about being a fashion designer but more about trying different kinds of mediums to put my art on,” she said.