By Jacq Pierre Francois for DNO, Humid Nostalgia celebrates the lasting inspiration of Black culture in 90s New Orleans. In Françoi$’ unapologetic style, a bold illustration accompanied by humid lettering calls to mind summer memories and the nostalgia of fashion with raw creative energy.
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Below, an interview with Françoi$ about his work, New Orleans, and his inspiration for the collaboration.
Where are you from?
I’m from McDonoghville, a small community within modern day Gretna.
When did you first know you were going to be an artist?
I knew I was going to be an artist when I scored a 7 on the Math portion of the ACT exams. I knew nothing corporate was in my future.
When did you start making art?
I started creating art in 1993 when I would copy whole passages from the Times Picayune. I called it art, but I can also see it being a gateway to punish work.
How would you describe your work?
I describe my work in 3 words: obnoxious, precise & Black.
What are your greatest influences?
My greatest influences are New Orleans, Blackness and Rihanna. (Rihanna 4-lyfe!)
How much of what you do is for the community, vs self expression? Do you see any separation between the two?
I think all my work is rooted in self-expression, yet always with regards to the community. I think that connectivity to my work has authentically formed because I create things where I can see myself and through that habitual practice, the people in my community, whether near or far, can also see themselves.
How did you develop your voice and following on social media, and how much of a role does that play in your work?
Honestly, I’m not even sure of my own standing on social media. I tend to post something & just run from it, like a grenade. The moment I post something in search of “likes” and applause - it’s a dud. So, in order to not play myself, I tend to just drop something bold with as little explanation as possible & let the audience do with it what they will. I think that habit created a sort of anticipation whenever I do post anything - which in turn created a “following”. (I wish I had a following when I need a discount at Rouses!)
“I know who I am and I’m not afraid of the world, which is liberating because then you have this courage to think outside the box and not be afraid of whatever perception the public has of you.”
So many people love you, how did you so successfully develop such a strong public persona?
I know who I am and I’m not afraid of the world, which is liberating because then you have this courage to think outside the box and not be afraid of whatever perception the public has of you. I feel people connect with me because they know I’m going to do what most people won’t or have not the courage to do. If they’re all going to the left, then I’m damn sure going to the right.
What's 2020 been like for you?
2020 has been a Popeyes biscuit eating contest without any water in sight.
What have you learned about yourself and your work this year?
I learned about myself that I work best under final-hour deadlines, too much applause makes me uncomfortable and no matter how accomplished I feel, I’ll never be a guest on 106 & Park. *cues ‘Lost Dreams’ by Feist*
If there’s one thing you,d like to say with your work, what is it?
I want my work to make you stop and stare. To be so bold, so unexpected or even so “tastefully” inappropriate, that your attention is all mine. I don’t need you to love it, but I need you to see it.
“2020 has been a Popeyes biscuit eating contest without any water in sight.”
Want to talk about Humid Nostalgia and this project with dno?
Humid Nostalgia happened so organically and truly like something out of a storybook. DNO has been the fabric of this city since I was a teen and I knew that if I ever had a shot to present an idea to them, I would have to do something so far-fetched and very atypical, design wise. By the grace of God, I discovered DNO was already a fan of mine (😭🙏🏾) and creating a graphic tee that honors Black culture, Black women, the Black influence within this magical city wasn’t far-fetched at all. This collaboration honestly was as smooth as butter and I am so proud of this release that we’ve created together.