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An Army Of Faffinettes And The Carmine Vault: Fafi Interviewed
Aug Stone , May 10th, 2012 08:06

Aug Stone talks to the French graffiti artist and comic book author, Fafi. Some light spoilers


Welcome to the irreverent world of The Carmine Vault, the debut comic from French artist, Fafi.

Situated far from our solar system, TCV is populated by the sexy, fun-loving Fafinettes. These stylish creatures wander their colourful, dream-like planet, wreaking havoc whilst indulging their whims. When Birtak, the four-legged mascot of the Hululus, reveals his dreams of joining the Paris Opéra Ballet, this fiendish pirate faction break from their mad debauchery to enact an extreme physical and psychological revenge for his betrayal. Left to die, he is rescued by the stargazing genius Rosa, though those Hululus are never far away with their seemingly endless supply of aggression. In fact, when a Fafinette is mortally wounded, the 'Alcanization' process kicks in, reawakening vital forces but each time leaving one more diabolical than before. Whether or not this is a metaphor for human existence, Fafi rightly leaves up to the reader, but she answered my other questions with the same sassy sense of fun she brings to her work.

"I had enough of drawing girls in the middle of a white background, expressing nothing more than a little bit of seduction or being bored. I decided to build a whole universe around them. I wanted them not to be alone anymore," says the artist whose career has skyrocketed since her graffiti first adorned the streets of Toulouse in 1994. Her army of Fafinettes have now been painted the whole world over, bouncing off the walls into toy manufacturing deals with Sony and Medicom, collaborations with Adidas, Colette, MAC Cosmetics, and Swatch to name but a few, and onto pages of Vogue, Elle, and The Face. Lily Allen was given the Fafi treatment in Mark Ronson's 'Oh My God' promo clip and Fafi recently directed Mademoiselle Yulia's first music video, 'Gimme Gimme'.

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Asked if she has any plans to direct more, Fafi excitedly replied, "I wish I could, it's the best job in the world! It's a new sport for me, completely opposite to studio work where you are all alone with your white sheet. It is very empowering to see a whole team at the service of an idea and to see how fast and creative you have to be during the process." Today she's been listening to Mystery Jets' 'Someone Purer', though as for music in general, "I just came back from Coachella and I don't understand what's going on with kids' music at the moment. Apocalypse is not too far away."

The experience of creating the comic, as opposed to working in these other art forms, was "intellectually enriching. I found for the first time it became more of a part of me since my humor was displayed, as well as a few absurd little things crossing my mind for a few years."

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Birtak's story is based on "our cowardice, and being brave sometimes". Though Fafi thinks she would probably fall asleep in front of a real ballet. "I just wanted to find something cheesy, it could have been figure skating but that was already used in Blades Of Glory." A second volume is already in the works. "I see so many mistakes and things I want to develop, I have a lot of work and a lot of new characters to introduce." One of those ideas was creating "a whole new nature in the Carmine Vault". The first fruits of this is "pulche" coupled with cognac to make the Fafinettes' favourite drink, "yazoub. "Cognac is an old people staring at a fireplace in Scotland drink. It's the little drop putting you to bed. I like the idea of comfort after a war-day, until another day. The inventions are essentially non-catchy names. I would be very bad in an advertisement company." One also looks forward to more adventures in Rosa's Lupus ship, an invention as saucy-looking as the name Carmine Vault implies.

As for Fafi's favourite comic - "I read Crumb and Aline's last one and fell in love with the couple and their way of seeing life. I did a blog after I read it, by the way."

The Carmine Vault is published by Rizzoli in a beautiful art book edition, complete with 10 extra full-page drawings of Fafinettes at the end. Fafi will be signing copies of The Carmine Vault at Rough Trade East on Thursday, May 10th, followed by a free party at HYSTERIA in Dalston. Details here.

Illustrations ©Fafi, Fafi: The Carmine Vault, Rizzoli New York, 2012