Vainui de Castelbajac isn’t just an intriguing illustrator with a fabulous name, she’s an artist whose effervescent spirit and passion about why she’s doing what she’s doing shines brightly even though email correspondence.
The 28 year old Parisian illustrator got started illustrating the stereotypes of lesbians when she and a friend decided to host a party that would offer girls a place to meet, dance, listen to great music, watch burlesque shoes, and party with friends – gay, straight, or whatever. The girls named it “What’s Gouine On,” a pun that takes advantage of the French word for dyke.
Vainui began designing flyers and chose a particular brand of self-mockery and stereotypical play that is now so apparent in her illustrations. “By making fun of ourselves, we became more accessible to everyone,” she explained of the initial drawings.
“Most of the time, lesbians recognize themselves in the situations in my illustrations: ‘it’s so me!’ they say, and they share their experiences. How their coming out happened and other funny stories. The drawing ‘lesbian couple have their period at the same time’ has gotten me a number of comments from girls about how they almost kill each other when it happens.”
With more than 30 illustrations of this kind complete, Vainui is pleased that What’s Gouine On is a party night that’s still … well… going on. Should you be in the neighbourhood, it’s in a little bar in Bastille called Les Disquaires.
“I’m very proud of the feedback received from both lesbians and heterosexual people because through my illustrations I want to communicate a friendly, funny image of us. Homophobia comes from fear and ignorance. If you make people laugh, they can’t hate you anymore.”