Floyd Sonnier (1933 to April 6, 2002), known as "beau Cajun" or the “artist of the Cajuns,” was a native of Pointe Noire, Louisiana and a lifelong resident of Louisiana's Acadiana region. An internationally acclaimed pen-and-ink artist, he specialized in drawings depicting Cajun culture, lifestyle and family, particularly scenes from the first half of the 20th century. In 1961 Sonnier graduated in commercial art from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then called the University of Southwestern Louisiana, after serving two years in the U.S. Army.
In 1980 he opened Floyd Sonnier’s Beau Cajun Art Gallery and Studio in Scott, Louisiana. He published I Remember Well / Je Me Souvien Biens, a hard cover book collection of 38 bi-lingual (French and English) stories written by Sonnier depicting his life as a child, growing up in a French-speaking Cajun family and dreaming of becoming an artist. A second book, From Small Bits of Charcoal: The Life & Works of a Cajun Artist was nearly completed by Sonnier and later published by his wife after his death.
About Floyd Sonnier
A young French-speaking Cajun boy, humming a simple tune, sifts through the ashes around an old black pot in the backyard of a humble old share-cropper's farm house. His mom had just made a fresh batch of soap. Next to him on the ground is a small wooden box. He picks pieces of charcoal from the cooled ashes and gently puts them in the small box. The boy was about three years old.
These precious bits of charcoal chosen with love and care were probably the one single most important factor in the beginning of Floyd Sonnier's life as an artist.
"Floyd Sonnier is a man who is fiercely proud of the fact that he is a Cajun. He has decided that he will not allow the Acadian culture and heritage to die. He is a uniquely gifted artist who for nearly a decade now has devoted himself and his art almost solely to portraying the Cajun lifestyle that he knows and loves so well."
This was the opening paragraph of an interview in 1983 for a well-known national magazine. This statement is as correct today in describing Floyd Sonnier's work and lifestyle as it was then.
Floyd and MervinFloyd Sonnier was born the oldest of six children to David and Virgie Thibodeaux Sonnier in a small share-cropper's house in an area called "La Pointe Noire" just southwest of Church Point in Acadia Parish. His first language is French - something of which he is very proud.
Floyd was educated at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic School and Church Point High. In 1961 he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Commercial Art from University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette. In the mid fifties he served two years with the US Army, of which one year was spent in Europe.
In November 1975, Floyd Sonnier introduced his pen-and-ink drawings to the public for the first time. This exhibit in Lafayette was so well accepted that it launched his career as a fine artist into national and international fame enjoyed by him today. In 1978 and with the full support of his wife, Verlie, and their four children, Floyd quit his job as manager of the weekly Diocesan Catholic newspaper to become a full-time pen-and-ink artist. In 1980 he opened the Floyd Sonnier's Beau Cajun Art Gallery and Studio in Scott, just outside Lafayette.
In 1992, Floyd was awarded the prestigious Scott Business Association "Unique Business Service of the Year" award.
In a career spanning twenty-seven years Floyd Sonnier produced over four hundred major pen-and-ink drawings, mostly depicting Cajun culture, lifestyle and family. Some one-hundred-seventy of these drawings were produced into limited-edition fine art prints and posters all signed and numbered by Floyd. To date a little over one hundred of these editions are sold out. He produced and published the first, in 1978, official poster for the popular Festivals Acadiens of Lafayette and has designed and produced a poster and t-shirts for this festival until 2001. He had designed and produced official posters and t-shirts for the Cajun French Music Association Festivals for the last seven years preceding his death in 2002. In addition to this he has designed and produced official posters for numerous festivals and celebrations.
For twenty-five years, Floyd produced his very popular bi-lingual Cajun calendars. Over one-quarter million of this fourteen-month calendar were distributed all over the United States, Canada, France, England and many other parts of the world. He has illustrated eight cookbooks. One of his more recent projects included a commission to do an illustration for a historical book that was published by LSU Press on the murder by and subsequent public hanging of two young Frenchmen accused of the crime in the town of Scott.
Floyd Sonnier has had exhibitions throughout Louisiana, in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Nebraska, Vermont and California. He has had four major exhibits in France and numerous trips to French Canada.