Discover the Psychedelic, Irony-Laden, Delightfully Wicked World of Mexican Artist and T-Shirt Designer Valfré
French artist Fafi amassed an enviable fan base by creating provocative illustrations that explored the ludicrous nature of female stereotypes; in order to do so, Fafi often appropriated clichéd and potentially offensive images and themes, then re-contextualized them, giving them new meaning and underlining their inherent absurdity. Following in Fafi’s footsteps, Mexican-born artist Ilse Valfré is creating powerful works of art by employing comic book-worthy illustrations rife with pop culture references and iconography, as well as renditions of fantastical and mythical scenarios centered on the feminine mystique, and then infusing her own satirical and irony-laden touches. Irreverent and wickedly funny, Valfré’s artwork will strike a cord with women everywhere.
Using tees and tanks as her canvas, Valfré has used apparel to make her artwork accessible to the masses. The result is charming offerings like the “I Can And I Will” Muscle Tee ($52 at Valfre.com), pictured third above, which appropriates and reinvents the classic Rosie the Riveter image used to empower the legions of female factory workers during World War II. In lieu of Rosie’s denim shirt with its rolled-up sleeves, the woman in this illustration dons a leopard print top in an olive green shade, tied at the front to show her abs. Rosie’s red bandanna with its white polka dots, meanwhile, is replaced with a pink head scarf featuring a tattoo-inspired rose print. Similarly, the young girl in this illustration has tattoos all over her bulging bicep, red fingernails filed into pointy claws, an ombré blue hair color, dark black eyeliner, and a bold red pout. Whereas Rosie was deliberately made to look more masculine in the WWII posters, then, this character is designed to appear feminine yet daring, fashionable and trendy yet ready to roll up her sleeves, get her hands dirty,and take on the world.
Similarly, Valfré tackles fictional creatures associated with sensuality — chief among them the mermaid — with aplomb. The Mermaid Girl Crew ($54 at Valfre.com), shown second above, showcases a siren of the sea sitting atop an open seashell to convey the message that she is, in fact the true pearl of the sea. But, at the same time, you get the sense that this is not a docile creature whose existence revolves around tantalizing men. If anything, this fish-tailed woman is the one in control. An unconventional mermaid, she sits atop the shell covered in tattoos (including one of an anchor on her forearm), donning a pirate-worthy eye patch, a Medusa-like tangle of roses and jellyfish tentacles atop her head.
Moving into more contemporary culture, there’s the Hi Times Muscle Tee ($52 at Valfre.com), the name of which is, itself, a cheeky play on words. The T-shirt depicts a pink-haired girl wearing heart-shaped sunglasses and donning a unicorn horn, her legs wrapped around a cannibus plant as she utters the word “Hi” and waves with one hand. Though she’s offering a greeting, it’s clear that she’s concerned with a different kind of “high.” The Vision Girls Muscle Tee ($52 at Valfre.com), meanwhile, celebrates female friendship, but the girls shown feel much more relatable in that they’re misfit types, as naughty as they are nice. The two girls utilize retro devices (which many of us will associate with our childhoods in the 80s) to obtain a different view of the world around them, one wearing a pair of old-school, two-toned, red-and-blue 3D glasses, and the other employing a View-Master 3D Viewer. There’s a goofiness to their antics that only makes them feel more relatable since, after all, what do we do with our best girlfriends other than act foolish?
To learn more about Valfre’s artwork and check out all of her T-shirt designs, visit Valfre.com