Loulou João is an Afro Belgian visual artist. Due to her mixed roots she developed an interdimensional worldview. Because of this, she approaches political, cultural, socio-economic and historical aspects of the white world in an analytical way. Investigating how whiteness as a default and the perceived superiority thereof is upheld and how it affects her own identity and position within this societal setting.

She attempts to shine a different light on the narration and representation of women belonging to the Afro diaspora. She sees blackness as a technology. One that is constantly evolving to survive and go up against issues like objectification and oppression.

By making use of 3D software (Blender), she visualizes her own reality. A digital world that consists of candy coated squishy plastic objects. All while using hyper femme cuteness as her visual language to create a safe space. One where she is able to focus on the expression of her own true self without any constructs weighing her down. Giving her the opportunity to reflect on the struggles she faces and hopefully making topics like mental health, identity and sexuality more discussable.

Visit Loulou João’s MakersPlace Storefront

Brady Walker: Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Loulou João: I’m Loulou, based in Belgium, and I studied illustration. In my final year at university, I started using Blender and with that soft world building the Focketverse! 🙂

BW: Who’s Nathan?

LJ: Nathan is my partner in cuteness! He started out as an architect and pushed me to start learning Blender (the 3D software we use). Eventually, when my work started to kick off he joined me and now we do everything together. I think of him as a Blender wizard, from modeling to animating, he can do it all!

She’s got the moves. by Loulou João

BW: Who is Miss Focket and what is the Focketverse? Where did the name come from? It sounds a lot like fuck it, but the attitude of Miss Focket is far from fuck it

Miss Focket started out as the first character I made in Blender; we’re now at version 3 I think. I made her as my digital alter ego. I was kind of desperately looking for a space where I could just express myself and truly be myself without:

  • Feeling I had to adapt to try to fit into my environment
  • Misplaced comments that made me aware of my “otherness”
  • Having the feeling I have to disprove any stereotypes
  • Etc.

And so with her in this digital space, I could start thinking about what a safe environment for me looks like and that’s how I slowly work on the Focketverse. Which is so broad, it’s a conceptual place that isn’t necessarily bound to a specific time or place like when you think of a physical place. It’s more of a feeling that you can call home.

The name did come from a combo of Polly Pocket and Fuck it. I loved my little girly toys as a child but early on I also noticed a lack of representation in them which fed into this feeling of being unseen. So Miss Focket very much has a fuck it attitude which is expressed by her being herself.

BW: What have you learned from Miss Focket?

LJ: To just be true to myself! Not to overthink so much what other people might think. I’m the one that has to live my life and I should just focus on what makes me happy and fulfilled.

Operating on puggy time by Loulou João

BW: Are there other characters in the Focketverse?

LJ: Yes! There are many characters residing in the Focketverse, they’re just very good at protecting their own space. For now, they come and go, there is not a fixed storyline yet. Maybe that will come in the future or maybe not.

BW: As a designer who intentionally creates the world you’d like to see around you, can you describe what you’re manifesting?

LJ: I’m manifesting a change in approach towards each other, one where we give one another the space to be ourselves. 

BW: What was the seed of the Birth Of The Black Venus?

LJ: That was my very first animated piece (that was not a 3-second loop). I just felt a bit lost and overwhelmed with everything happening regarding BLM. I needed an outlet and that resulted in the Birth Of The Black Venus.

It’s giving, herd behaviour by Loulou João

BW: You’ve said in a previous interview that, in predominantly white Belgium, you weren’t “provided a safe environment nor the necessary building blocks to naturally grow a healthy sense of identity and self-worth.” There are millions of people around the world who I know feel similarly. How would you construct a childhood environment to counteract that? 

LJ: To just be true to myself! Not to overthink so much what other people might think. I’m the one that has to live my life and I should just focus on what makes me happy and fulfilled.

BW: The style of your brand work and the style of your personal work are quite similar if not quite often exactly the same (feat. Miss Focket). Do clients ever come to you for work outside of your aesthetic?

LJ: We’ve perfected our craft in the style that you see but of course when working with a client we need to be mindful of their identity and message for the project we’re working on. So there is a difference with personal work in the sense that we don’t use Miss Focket for commercial campaigns and tend to create characters specifically for the project at hand. And within personal work, we focus on personal expression more. 🙂

We’ve been very lucky that what a client wants and the style come closely together but of course, we are just skilled in 3D modeling/animating so sometimes help others out where needed.

Honey, the stage is all yours. by Loulou João

BW: Are you working on more resin sculptures or physical artworks?

LJ: I’m working on ceramics! I’ve had my first gallery show this year so I had to rethink what my world could look like in the physical realm. I produced furniture, little TVs (with my animations shown of course!), big 3D paintings, and ceramic editions as well. Currently, I’m still working on releasing those ceramic editions.

BW: How do you think about your career? Do you think in projects and short timelines? Do you have a grand vision? Do you work somewhere in the middle?

LJ: That’s a difficult question. The projects I’ve been able to work on are things I couldn’t even imagine I’d be so lucky to do. So I have already achieved things beyond my wildest dreams.

If I could have a grand plan for the future it would be more of what I’ve already done and there are of course still things on my bucket list. More music videos, working again on animated shows (or creating my own show?), collaborating with a fashion brand, designing scenography for a storefront or show, etc. Big dreams still! 🙂

BW: What would your advice be to any NFT artists looking to start taking on client work while maintaining their style and voice? 

LJ: Think of how your style can merge with a brand’s identity.  Know your strengths but also your weaknesses. And have fun!

BW: Does art serve a purpose (one or more)? Why does art exist?
LJ: Wow, who am I to answer that!? Okay, let me answer now, and this is the only truth! No, I’m joking. 

Art can have many purposes or meanings to exist or just exist without any meaning, all is fine.

For me personally, art is just my reason to live (ohhhh deep), I just have to create. And I create to release that tingly feeling from the back of my brain. When I’m with friends, listening to music, reading, or watching movies/ series, it all triggers me in a way that I need to let it out. 

I also have a deep admiration for other creators. The things people can come up with amaze me and remind me that my way of thinking is not necessarily how other people think or experience the world. Isn’t that mesmerizing?

And I’d love to think that if people experience my work they can feel something. Feel seen, feel at ease, and make them think. Not sure if that actually happens, but if it does that would be the best thing in the world. 🙂 

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