The Embodiment of Feminism | MISSBISH Fafi
DateMarch 8, 2017
From the moment I laid eyes on Fafi‘s work, I’ve been mesmerized. Fafi made a name for herself by drawing colorful, unique, and curvaceous female figures that are filled with sass. Her stand-out figurines seen in many murals and exhibitions across the world have earned her respect in her home country, as well as on an international level. In recent years, the Parisian artist has collaborated with household brands like adidas, Vogue, Sony, and more. It is a dream come true interviewing Fafi, as her drawings of women mimic those who I’ve had the honor of growing up around. Check out the interview below.
Tell us a little bit about how you got your start in the art field.
When I was 18-19 years old, I was a kleptomaniac and loved fashion photography. With my best friend, we used to steal all the fashion magazines in kiosks from Vogue Italia to The Face or Interview.
My love for fashion brought me to jail after we broke into a luxury shop with an axe to get the Ralph Lauren tops in the window display that I couldn’t afford. I was already drawing girls on white paper and creating little comics in class at the time, I found drawing to be so powerful and I had to bow down to this unique gift I had. Those two passions needed to be ventured; when I got acquainted with graffiti and all of its mysteries, I decided to break-the-law with this artsy activity that was to become my new hobby. I did my first illegal painting in my hometown of Toulouse in 1994.
How has the graffiti scene in France influenced your work?
It’s the whole spirit of graffiti that I loved: the crew, the night, the fact that everything was forbidden, and the fact that we had to steal the paint. Everything was appealing to a young and adventurous chick like me.
You’ve mentioned that at first, it was difficult to convince your parents of pursuing an artistic career (totally relate). How did you overcome that challenge?
It was foreign territory for them, that’s why. Only a few of the oldest in the game could make it back in the day. My mum was a nurse and my father worked at the local newspaper. I had to learn everything by myself, it was just a matter of 1 or 2 years where I had to show them I was in charge. Projects arrived in the mail little by little and eventually got bigger and better. Some agents contacted me and I started to work abroad and travel to paint everywhere, living my life around my creations.
What inspired the beautiful, voluptuous Fafinette characters? Was portraying positive body image through your drawings important to you in the beginning?
For a few years, my Fafinettes had always lived through my lense or my friends’. I just would draw how I feel in the moment. When I was in love I was making drawings to seduce some particular boys, but I drew aggressive girls when I was cheated on or when I hated the boy I was with.
Now I have a deeper purpose in serving the story of the Carmine Vault and I don’t rely on love anymore to be motivated.
Can you tell us what your creative process is like when drawing?
Before I had my son Neil who is now 11, I was on a night shift. But since I became a mother I adapted myself to a day schedule that suits me pretty well. We go together to highschool in the morning and then I work until he gets out. Usually while at home I am not working, I like to separate work life from home life.
I am renting an office in le Marais, Paris where there are only women and I listen to super loud music while I draw. Music is super important to me, with it I feel like I have super powers even though I am sitting on my ass all day.
“It’s the whole spirit of graffiti that I loved: the crew, the night, the fact that everything was forbidden, and the fact that we had to steal the paint. Everything was appealing to a young and adventurous chick like me.”
You’ve collaborated with major brands like adidas and Vogue. Is there a difference, if any, in staying true to your vision when working with major brands?
I’ve always been asked to do what I was already doing and have the opportunity to be a proper artist. But when you collaborate, there are a lot of people involved in the development process and sometimes the final result – the product – isn’t good, but it happens and you learn to ask about pitfalls or show a company where you think there may be some.
How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I am that crazy bitch you can rely on.
What is currently on rotation in your music library?
PARTYNEXTDOOR, Jeremih, D.R.A.M, Post Malone, Roisin Murphy, Marcel Khalife, and Brodinski.
What advice do you have for women who are aspiring to break into the graffiti world?
I would encourage them to build their own world.
Name 3 of your favorite hidden gems in Paris.
My restaurant, Miss Bahn Mi, which I created with my chef friend Heidi that’s still going strong, Yves Saint Laurent museum (opening in 2017), and the Marché des enfants Rouges next to my office for buying vegetables and super good sandwiches.
What does MISSBISH mean to you? Who is your MISSBISH?
My MISSBISH is Gabrielle Witkopp, she is a writer whose best seller is The Necrophile. Reading her title should help you understand how defiant her work is.
Photo by: Sunny Ringle