A long interview with JWA magazine. JWA is a ‘lifestyle magazine for influencers’.
The interview with JWA magazine was done in French but here is the translation.
Focus on the artist and graphic designer Mega!
From Technikart to Clark to Kink or WAD, you’ve probably seen his artworks in your favorite magazines. We met Mega and he told us about his career and work as an art director.
Let’s see how Mega became one of the most important designers in Europe.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND
HOW DID YOU BECOME A REFERENCE IN THE WORLD OF ILLUSTRATION?
I spent my teenage years as a graffiti artist. I was painting walls in a new school way with my buddy called Peper. We were not interested in classic wild style and B-boys. Our influences were in Swiss graphic design books than in graffiti fanzines. The use of computers soon became a natural extension of my graphic skills, and a way for me to reach a new audience. Computers also open new perspectives on a technical level. My work on walls only reached a limited audience of writers, so I turned to art direction because I wanted to talk to a wider audience.
In the first months I spent a lot of time in the front of my screen to understand and master the basic softwares. After a while I opened a graphic design studio with a friend (Delarocca) and we published a book called First. It was a very graphic publication printed in silver on black paper. The content focussed on underground hip hop with interviews of Antipop Consortium and Soul Williams. This publication was a link with a new generation of journalists and we met a lot of people with common interests in the street culture. Clark, Blast or BPM magazine had just started. We also met the editor of Kink, a magazine about sports who had just released his first issue and a few weeks later we took the artistic direction of the publication. We learned a lot and worked with innovation and professionalism in mind.
We also went to New York CITY to meet and interview actors of the “street culture” scene. We met the guys from Def Jux, Zoo York, Wordsound, Stay Free, and more… We came back to France with the idea of publishing an pioneering graphic design book. At the time german publishers like DGV was doing a great job, but there was a need in France for new publishers interested with a strong interest in graphic design. So we worked really hard to write, illustrate, finance, translate, and publish a book called NYC Rules. The graphic design book was distributed in all major networks, and the media reacted really positively.
A year later, a big publisher bought Kink magazine and I became the official art director of the new version of the publication. A few years later I moved to Paris to work on BPM magazine. In the same time my work as an illustrator was growing to the point that I needed an agent to represent me. Later, I stopped working for BPM and joined the team behind WAD magazine. It was a wonderful experience to become the art director of a fashion magazine but my work as an illustrator was really demanding. In 2005 I stopped to focus on my illustrations. A decent internet connection was all I need to work with my customers so I moved to Brazil for a while, before living in Argentina where I stayed there until October 2006. I received a phone call from when my “partner-in-crime” Pierre Henny (the editor of Kink and BPM). He asked me to come and live in Sydney to take the Art direction of a urban culture magazine called Acclaim.
YOU HAVE WORKED FOR MANY MAGAZINES
AS A GRAPHIC DESIGN SPECIALIST AND AN ACCOMPLISH ART DIRECTOR, COULD YOU TELL US WHAT YOU LIKE IN A MAGAZINE AND WHICH ONES DO YOU READ?
Magazines are a nice way to show my illustrations and to reach people. Unlike other media such as t-shirts, books or album covers, magazine have a short life. There is a sense of urgency, short deadlines, specific constraints that force creativity. As for the art direction, I usually choose to work for magazines that I want to read it. It’s a simple choice. Working as an art director is very different from my job as an illustrator. As an art director I build a layout that offer a balance between texts and images. I create a visual identity, organize photo shoots, find illustrators, etc.. In France I read Clark and WAD. Otherwise I love the first issues of Vice magazine, Lodown in Germany and Monster Children in Australia are cool too. In USA Complex magazine remains the benchmark for the best of street culture and fashion, while Juxtapoz used to be the best illustration magazine.
IN 2002 YOU CO-PRODUCED AND PUBLISHED THE BOOK CALLED NYC RULES!
THE BOOK DEALS WITH NYC UNDERGROUND CULTURES. WHAT ARE THE ARTISTS YOU LIKE IN NEW YORK? IF YOU HAD TO MAKE A “PARIS RULES” WHO WOULD BE THE ARTISTS TO WATCH?
As for the music I like Lil Wayne but I was really disappointed with Wiz Khalifa. This guy lost his credibility and became a pop clown. If we talk about graffiti I like Neckface but I must say that I have not been back to New York for a while so I may have missed the newcomers. “Paris Rules!” sounds like a good idea, but France is a small country and not everything comes from Paris. People from small towns tend to spend more time and energy for their passions, simply because there are fewer distractions. Anyway Veenom and Koa are visual artists I like. I am a big fan of the graffiti artist HNT, and Zevs probably offer the most exciting approach to graffiti. As for photography I like Wilee and Dimitri Coste. If we talk about music, my favorite hip-hop artist is still Booba.
Anyway, I’m a bitter guy so I would not do a book about Paris because there are too many people I would criticize…
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE BOOKS RETROACTIVE 1 & 2?
Retroactive 1 & 2 are graphic design books. The publisher invited me to do illustrations in the publications and the guy was also the man who worked as a distributor for my book NYC Rules.
MANY PEOPLE SAW THE BOARDS YOU DID FOR CARTEL SKATEBOARD
HOW DID YOU END UP WORKING WITH THEM?
A guy working for Circa and Cartel simply called me. He asked me if I wanted to do a series of pro-models boards for Cartel. My name would be silk screened in gold on the top of the skateboards and I would have a total freedom to work. I could not refused, especially because I knew that the guy was professional.
YOU WERE RECENTLY IN SYDNEY
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT YOU DID THERE?
I was in Sydney to work as an art director for a magazine called Acclaim. While I was in Australia I also took part in several art exhibitions.
Cai Bin is a fun Asian girl I drew for my publication.
Tips & Tricks
Wikipedia, Google and IMDB have changed my life. My site http://www.ilovemega.com/blog/ is probably the best website since porn. Haha!
Jérôme Coste, Charles Burns, and everything around me. Otherwise music plays an important part in my life and my work. I love hip-hop, Afrobeat, soul and old school funk.
Illustration of a masked character in the jungle for ATR.
To travel and live from my passion.