From mathematic algorithms to Senegalese textiles, Diarra Bousso finds inspiration in all kinds of places. We chatted with the San Francisco–based artist about how she went from Wall Street to Fashion Week—aspiring creatives, take note.


Let’s start from the beginning—were you into art growing up?

I was. I started ballet and painting in Senegal at age five and later explored many other crafts such as knitting, crochet, sewing, pottery… I was always curious about exploring various forms of art. I also really loved math and science but felt like I had to make a choice between art and math. I ended up focusing on math when I moved to Norway in high school and then started a career in a more quantitative field as a trader on Wall Street. Eventually, my artistic heart called for love and I dropped everything to follow it.

We love to hear about creators taking a big plunge like that! When did the transition begin, and what did it look like?

In 2013, after quitting my finance job and starting a fashion company. I received a lot of encouragement and my designs seemed to resonate with people. At first, I expressed my art publicly through clothing and accessories. When I became more comfortable, I started randomly sharing some childhood paintings on my Instagram feed which received so much support. In the fall of 2019, I decided to be bold and share more of my paintings during my fashion exhibitions. Finally, in the spring of 2020, I released my first public collection for sale, titled GÉNT (Wolof for dream) as a way to collectively dream and vicariously explore wanderlust and inclusivity through art. Representing Black muses who looked like me in my work made me feel very empowered.


Tell us more about what inspires you.

My inspirations come mostly from travels, my African cultural heritage and mathematics. My work shows a lot of destinations and allows me to revisit places I long for. The patterns and colors are really inspired by my home in Senegal—our vibrant textiles, rich music, positive energy. The common thread in all my work is in the lines, intersections and cubist elements, strongly inspired by my background in mathematics and obsession with geometry.


Do you have any advice for fellow artists who feel stuck or out of ideas right now?

I would say just go for it. I was painting in the spring of 2020 to cope with anxiety when the entire world went on lockdown. Little did I know that six months later my work would end up on Forbes or in so many people’s homes. Express your art with authenticity and your audience will naturally resonate with your work. I never think about business or sales when I create but rather explore the best way to tell my story and it ends up being more exciting for me.

Thanks so much, Diarra. To shop her work plus more treasures from other Hometown Heroes, head right here.

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