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Fabienne Fafi Saincry

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Going only by the enigmatic name Fafi, this French graffiti artist has evolved into a multi-faceted creator, embodying roles including entrepreneur, comic book writer, designer, and video director. The daughter of a newspaper designer and a nurse, she was born Fabienne Saincry in Toulouse, France in 1976.

Fafi attended private school from kindergarten until age eighteen. While it was expected that she would become a nurse, she shared her love of graffiti with a teacher who encouraged her to follow her passions. Defying her parents’ wishes, Fafi began painting the walls of Toulouse, adorning them with her confident, quirky, sexually-charged girl characters beginning in 1994. While her first creative activities resulted in multiple encounters with the police, Fafi’s characters soon drew enormous legitimizing attention. She has since painted the Fafinettes throughout the world, decorating city walls in Europe, the USA, Japan, Hong Kong and beyond.

Fafi’s works have gone from covertly painted masterpieces to big-name store shelf collaborations, beginning with a six-character toy set for Sony’s Time Capsules collection. She has since worked with companies including Colette, Adidas, LeSportSac, Coca-Cola, M.A.C., Hennessy, Swatch, and Samsung. Her work has been featured in several art galleries, and she has produced two books, 2003’s Girls Rock and 2006’s Love and Fafiness.

In 2007 Fafi took her first foray into the new medium of video direction, creating a Fafinette version of Lily Allen for Mark Ronson’s “Oh My God” video. She also co-directed “Do Do Do” for Carte Blanche and sat in the director’s chair for music videos for Mademoiselle Yulla and Azealia Banks. In 2013, she worked with Spike Jonze’s team shooting M.I.A. for the first YouTube Music Awards in New York.

Fafi released her first comic book, “The Carmine Vault,” in April 2012. The book expands her signature characters into a fully-fledged universe of their own, populated by a variety of creatures and run by the Fafinettes themselves.

Fafi currently lives and works in Paris with her son Neil, born in 2005. Her late husband, DJ Mehdi, died unexpectedly in 2011.

Companies and Investments

Fafinettes (Creator), Colette (Collaborator), Adidas (Collaborator), LeSportSac (Collaborator), Coca-Cola (Collaborator), M.A.C. (Collaborator), Hennessy (Collaborator), Swatch (Collaborator), Samsung (Collaborator)

Lessons Learned

They used to paint over my characters in black. I totally understand it now, but I was young and exploring sexuality and for me it was already a super-feminist move to paint alone in the street at night. But all they saw were the really sexy girls. My Fafinettes are not like that any more. (Fafi, on personal evolutions, creative work, and awareness, in a Telegraph profile)

I said no. For me that was the worst thing I could do - one minute doing graffiti in the Tube, the next minute doing a window display for Harrods…I just want to take the best of life and not make compromises. If I want something I go and grab it…It's always in the contract that I can do whatever I want. So I tell Adidas, "Birtak is going to be all alone on this shoe and I don't care if you don't want Birtak." They give me a really nice amount of money. (Fafi, on prioritizing artistic integrity and not being afraid to stand your ground, in a Telegraph profile)  


Inspiring Quotes

Fabienne Fafi Saincry's Quotes

I just want to take the best of life and not make compromises. If I want something I go and grab it.

Fabienne Fafi Saincry

I used to choose really messed-up walls that smelled of pee to paint something beautiful, because I wanted girls travelling in the city to see a nice spot on their way home at night.

Fabienne Fafi Saincry

Influential Books

Mentors

DJ Mehdi, Tove Jansson

References


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