Oh Oui Oui Niki! Parisian Artist Nicholle Kobi Has Us ‘Sprung’ French Artist Nicholle Kobi Channels Black Beauty and Fashion
June 15, 2017
Name: Nicholle Kobi
Hometown: Paris, France
Occupation: Artist, Illustrator, Activist
Instagram: @nichollekobi @nichollekobishop
Fun Fact: “I love to watch Love & Hip Hop Atlanta.”
Nicholle Kobi is an independent, French artist and illustrator known for her illustrations of black women and black sisterhood. She has quite the impressive resume, working with Essence Magazine, ABC Studios (Grey’s Anatomy), and BET.com and has had some of her artwork featured in exhibitions in Paris, Toronto, and Montreal.
On July 7th, 2017, she showcased her Sprung Art Series collection for the first time in Houston and I so happened to snag a few art pieces of my own. At the event, I had the opportunity to meet the lady behind the art as she sat down with her friend Marina to talk about the reason behind her drawings and why it was so important to illustrate strong, feminine representations of black women.
“Who inspired me? Black women generally. I spent a lot of times on the internet, on blogs and black women are special, beautiful, and beautiful hair! And the thing is you never see it in fashion or acting and this is why you [audience was majority African American women] inspired me,”says Kobi.
“My teacher, by example, always told me that I have to stop [drawing] because drawing black women is not a good thing. You’re never going to make money with that. It’s not interesting drawing black women. But I love to draw black women.”
Prior to her art career, she started out in the insurance industry but felt drawing was more of her true passion. However, her journey as an artist drawing black women was a oft-neglected exercise in France. She was heavily criticized from many art agencies in France because her aesthetic was “too ethnic or ethnic identifiable.” It was the strength of black women and her strong fan base in the States that kept her going as an artist. She even stayed true to herself by denying agencies’ requests to draw white people. “My teacher, by example, always told me that I have to stop [drawing] because drawing black women is not a good thing. You’re never going to make money with that. It’s not interesting drawing black women. But I love to draw black women,” says Kobi. Kobi also acknowledges the racial double standard of how black women are portrayed in the media, especially black women’s sexuality. “We can be ghetto all we want but we want to be more than this. Because we are more than this.”
Kobi hopes to see her artwork evolving towards black women in animation or short movies. In the near future, Kobi will be expanding her artwork with a clothing and luggage line. She also wants to be more vocal in black women’s rights, involving herself in speaking engagements and conferences advocating diversity and inclusion, especially in France. Her dream collaboration would be to work with Oprah one day.