Bringing Unseen Worlds to Light: Interview with Fine Artist Fabiola Jean-Louis

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What inspires you? How do your background, heritage and identity influence your work?

I am inspired by everything around me! Colors are extremely important in work — to a point where only complimentary colors are used in each image … When speaking of color, I try to mimic the “perfection” of nature as much as possible. Honestly, I can be inspired by clouds in the sky. History, science and folklore also heavily inspire me.

The very fact that I am an Afro-Caribbean Haitian woman inspires my work. The pride in my heritage and culture truly runs deep … The latter is what first inspired me to create a series that focused on Black magical creatures – something I realized was not only socially relevant but essential. The events of the past, present and the possibilities of the future that involve my people are vital to my work. It became my life work to portray us in the most beautiful light as well as include us in the dialog of mysticism through photography.

Where do you draw the line between reality and the speculative? What does your creative process look like?

There are no lines between reality and speculative in my work! Normally, I find that reality is already speculative, and I speculate reality so my work also reflects that.

My creative process is a combination of preplanning and the unknown. Whether I’m working on a piece for my collection or a client, my process begins with drawing out a concept (something born from my many inspirations). In the illustration phase, I am also considering costuming, lighting and overall feel … The message. Then, I find a location for the shoot. My planning ends there though. After that, I allow the unknown to take over. In Photoshop, I allow complete creative freedom to speak so as to give life to what I feel is most authentic. When a piece is complete, I feel as though I have given them a breath of life and love from my own spirit. Therefore, I hope this translates or transmits into the real world as such.