Sarah Nicole François Is The Designer Behind Solange’s 3D Avatar Who Is All About 'Black Girl Domination'
The fashion designer, digital animator, visual artist, YouTube persona and Afrofuturist discusses her creative work
Bold, powerful, combative and graphic are just a few of the terms that come to mind when looking at the work of Sarah Nicole François. Most recently, the young Haitian-American visionary, who is based out of both New York City and Orlando, FL, has caught attention for her contributions to the design aesthetics of Solange’s BlackPlanet.com social media profile.
François is a self-taught prodigy in the field of design; a fashion designer, digital animator, visual artist, YouTube persona and Afrofuturist, her creative talents are limitless. On Feb. 27, I spoke with François about her work with Solange, her brand 000SPORTWEAR///, and “Black girl domination.”
Blavity: What initially inspired you to start creating 3D images and animations?
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Sarah Nicole François: Before I was doing 3D work, I had a brand that I was designing for heavily, and that was my main source of creativity and income. But I wanted to create a lookbook. Being a young, Black creative who doesn’t have any money or resources — pulling together resources to do a huge video shoot [can be] daunting. It’s possible, because a lot of Black creatives do it. But for me, I was like, "OK, let me utilize my skills.” I’m really into technology, so I thought it’d be really cool to do a digital [lookbook] — so that was my first project.
François: Fashion is something I wanted to do since I was 12 and got my first sewing machine. I always knew I wanted to have a brand, but I didn’t go to fashion school. I didn’t take any classes on technicalities of sewing. Anything I learned it was just me pulling resources from Youtube, or going to the library and picking up books to teach myself how to sew. From that, I developed my own aesthetic, because I knew what I liked.
François: A lot of the aesthetic from 000SPORTWEAR/// is really like video game combat wear, really aggressive — that’s my style. I love that stuff. I try to create what I want to see, from my perspective that’s the best way to do things. There’s always a hole in culture of something that’s needed. The best way to fill that hole is to think about what you want as a consumer. There’s always going to be someone out there who aligns with how you see things.
Blavity: What are the social and political motivations that drive you in your creative process?
François: The main one that comes up in my work a lot is power; it’s mostly a personal characteristic. I’m kind of a control freak when it comes to creative aspects of my life. I like to have control of things which is why I do everything myself. Politically, there is a common theme of feeling like you lack power, especially with people in minority groups. It’s valid. So for me, I try to reclaim the power I do have.
Blavity: How do you feel about Solange using a social media platform such as BlackPlanet.com to promote her work?
François: It’s brilliant! It goes back to the power thing; recognizing the power that we have. If you think of sections of the internet, like Black Twitter — you can’t look at a news segment without them referencing Black Twitter in some aspect. For example, the whole Gucci boycott? That was Black Twitter. We have so much power and the media recognizes this. It looks to us for everything. Our voices are so loud collectively, so why not populate our own platforms?
Blavity: Have you envisioned your work on a platform with Solange, or did this surprise you?
François: I was in LA for a convention ,and I remember telling [my sister], “I’m going to work with Solange one day.”
She never brushed it off — she was always like, “Yeah! You can manifest it.” Anyone else would have been like, “OK, girl.”
I think sometimes it’s about having the guts to say something that ridiculous and working toward it, even if you don’t know if it’s going to happen or not. I’m going to shoot for the moon, and if I land on a star that’s cool.
Blavity: “Black girl domination” is a concept you reference on your YouTube channel. What does Black girl domination look like?
To me, Black girl domination looks like so many different things: It looks like Black girls in positions of power, hiring other Black girls to do dope Black s**t. I mean, people are going to gravitate toward what we do, because we’re awesome and it’s a matter of fact. But it looks like Black girls being the face of the trend, and not just the source of it. It looks like trans Black girls having the power that they deserve, having the voice that they deserve.
Blavity: How have your Haitian roots influenced your style and creative process?
I have a lot of problems with the way the media portrays what Haitians are like or what Haiti is like. It even affected the way I thought about it growing up. I didn’t understand it, because I never had a problem with being Haitian. I grew up in a household that was heavily influenced by Haitian culture; I grew up eating Haitian food and speaking Creole with my family. But you step outside that bubble ,and everyone’s telling you there’s something wrong with it, in more ways than one. That’s forced me, more than anything, to find things I love about my culture and amplify them.
Blavity: Do you have any advice for Black Women in creative industries?
My No.1 piece of advice that I tell my little sister [is] just be arrogant enough to think that you can do it. Even if you don’t know that you can, not only be arrogant enough but work hard enough. Do the work. Do the work like you have the job tomorrow and so when it comes, you’re ready for it.
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