An Interview with Thibaut "MEKA" Desiront

Anytime you see a logo or icon, it pushes on your brain and gives you a slight nudge to act upon or feel it. But what if you took these images, tore them down and rebuilt them into something completely different, yet still familiar? This is MEKA‘s M.O.

Raised on comics, punk rock and a skateboard, French-born MEKA’s art takes the images of pop-culture, frames them in cartoon-esque lines, creates alternate themes and bakes them in youth-in-revolt style. Inspiration is key to any artist, and MEKA doesn’t try to force something that isn’t inspired. Much of his inspiration comes from cultures that stemmed from North America, so he didn’t hesitate at an opportunity to make a move from France to Montreal, Canada, as it dropped him into the culture that he had for so long been a spectator.

From Mickey Mouse wielding a whiskey bottle, to a cell phone screen that melts faces, the art of MEKA is everything you never knew you had to have. Here’s your chance to see how he got to where he is.

What got you into art in the first place?
It was a logical evolution. I’ve been drawing since I was four, and I never stopped since. I made it my occupation, first by being an illustrator, and in the last few years, by giving it a more artistic approach.

Your father was a good artist too, right? Did he mentor you, or was it more of letting your art be yours?
My father is a teacher, but he initiated me to drawing. He’s outstandingly talented. My parents didn’t mentor me per se, but they nurtured that side of me by organizing creative days at home. I believe growing up in such a creatively-oriented family is the reason I’m an artist today.

“Illustrations I create deal with how I see the world, how I feel about it.”

What was your first piece of art you created and remember?
About 15 years ago, I started painting for the first time. For once, I wanted to break away from illustration, and have a whole artistic approach—I was at the Beaux-Arts back then—to convey a message through my creation. It was “Express Yourself.” I worked at it for two days before setting it a aside. Three years later, I picked it back up and painted again all over it, and finally ended up with something that felt significant. So if anything, this piece taught me how hard it is to create without boundaries, how difficult the introspective work you have to achieve first is.

If someone asked you what your art was about, what would you tell them?
It’s about me. It sounds selfish, but all the paintings and illustrations I create deal with how I see the world, how I feel about it. As a result, it’s about positive values, and trying to push myself and other people to push themselves.

“Life is too short and it can change in a blink, so why would you limit yourself?”

You’ve got an amazing ability to take iconic images and re-engineer them. How did this come about?
I believe it stems from my background in the advertising industry. For years, I worked on branding. That teaches you how to recognize the keys of branding and graphic icons, so now for me, it’s like a game to repurpose established icons. You could compare that to creating a language: these graphic keys are words whose meaning everyone knows, but if you combine them in a different way, you create new meanings. Take Mickey Mouse for example: his ears are iconic. Whichever way he faces, they don’t change. You don’t need anything else to recognize him. 

In many photos of you, you’re wearing headphones. What part does music play in your art?
It’s a major pillar in my creative process. I need music to hole myself up in a creative bubble and to filter the world out. My musical choices are always linked to the piece I’m working on, to the mood I want to convey. Nothing beats a good pair of headphones and music when you need to be focused.

We have a saying at Skullcandy of “Live at Full Volume.” Applying this to your own life, what does that mean to you?
I totally share it. I try to live my life with no compromise. If tomorrow an opportunity led me to change countries and discover new horizons, I would do it in a heartbeat. Life is too short and it can change in a blink, so why would you limit yourself?