Words by Imani (Artistic Sole/IKB/Indian Pussy). Photos by Corey Thompson.
Somewhere in a grueling (but fun) month of artistic planning, I got proposed to. Ok! So not really, but how do you think I felt when I got asked to guest spot this interview with the one and only, FAFI! I’m not too sure that you can read my excitement, but if I knew how to do a cartwheel, I would. Now, that’s out of the way, let’s fast forward to 4 hours on a greyhound bus from DC to NYC, to an evening of greatness.
We arrive there early and we’re chilling hard in front of The Hole Shop enjoying the day. Trying to put nervousness aside, I am greeted with some of the warmest smiles and welcomes from Foluke and Sade –the organizers of the event, asking if I’m ready, I was advised that this fun-loving artist does not take well to “typical” questions. Silly me, I respond “GREAT! I don’t want to share anything we can Google … She’s [Fafi] got way more cool points than that! As we laugh and the conversation tapers off my nervousness subsides and I can see my questions a bit clearer.
Fafi finally arrives and I’m peeking through the window as she nails her first interview. Though mine wasn’t until later that night, I got to meet her initially as I stood in line with other patrons to get my copy of The Carmine Vault autographed … I mean, that IS what we’re celebrating! Since I’m a bit of a linguist I greet her in French. Her eyes light up to respond “Ca va!” and we just laugh as I think my eyes said “RETREAT RETREAT” (my conversational French sucks so we could have missed some major fun with Fafi). We share a laugh or two and somehow have a super brief convo about languages and how it’s fun to connect.
After the signing, we were filed into the larger part of the gallery where drinks and eats were being served, spotted in the crowd were music entrepreneur Ant Demby, photographer Ricky Powell, music duo Chromeo to name a few.
Later that evening I’m taken to the front of The Hole Shop and formally introduced to Fafi we were granted 5 minutes with the artist. It sounds like a shallow amount of time but it’s all I needed.
So I’ve been following the development of the comic since 2009. I’ve always wondered what gave way to The Carmine Vault? What’s the inspiration for it?
Well, I just wanted to create a universe for the characters. I got tired of them being separated and alone. Maybe one day it will get to be animated or something, but I have to do these steps to get there and the first is giving them a home.
Cool! So I noticed your fashion, which is pretty kick arse by the way and I am a big fan of subculture fashion. (Fafi was rocking a black chiffon print shirt, some flower print stretch pants leggings, black ankle socks, and studded goth platform lace-ups … oh! And a DOPE 2 finger batman ring) So do you look to any fashion as inspiration for your characters?
I used to look to fashion, but to pull general inspiration. Nothing real specific. These days, not so much though.
Couch Sessions (IKB): I see. Your collaborations are pretty sick. Is there any importance in brand collaborations as an artist.
Of course they are important. It’s not something I wanted to do but it keeps your art out there. People get to see your art in a different way and I can pay my bills. I can’t pay them on the things I want to do, alone. But people enjoy them.
Couch Sessions (IKB): As an artist, that’s more than inspiring to hear. But your collaborations have now brought you out of artist status and Fafi, herself, is a brand. How does it make you feel when you’re walking down the street and someone has one of your collaborations or one of your fashions on? Like, right now, I have a MAC x Fafi bleach compact in my purse. Does it weird you out or anything? Do you ever get used to it?
I see. I don’t know. You don’t really get used to it, but it DOES bring me great joy and happiness when I see it. I smile.
As we ended Fafi was still warmly laughing and smiling from the last question. You can tell she genuinely loves her fans and producing art for their happiness. I humbly give her a few gifts of thanks for being her, for being an inspiration, and for her time- though you could tell she was exhausted from the event’s high energy and activities. Before parting ways though, she humored me in a slight bow & “arigato gozaimasu” <- that’s polite Japanese for thank you. I returned the gesture with “Merci Beaucoup”, we laughed and I floated away on artistic cloud nine.
Again, I say, if you are not familiar with Fafi, you should take time to get familiar!
Either way you won’t be sorry.