Interview – MEGA

MEGA is, amongst many things: an esteemed artist, writer, master of languages, seasoned art director, and an enigmatic sucker-punch of creative POW. This artistic virtuoso will hit our shores this April, touring Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Newcastle – as well as a bunch of international locations – spreading his colourful brand of illustrative-esque awesomeness with his upcoming exhibition Longing to Be Knotted Together. If all that doesn’t blow your creative envelope enough, the man himself will feature at this year’s Carbon Festival, hosted by Acclaim Magazine and New Balance, to be held at Federation Square from April 29th to May 1st.

We thought we’d hit him up for a quick chat before things got a little hectic, and as well as showing us a bunch of exclusive preview images for his forthcoming shows, Mega also talked to Invurt about his art, girls, design, girls again, and what it’s like being, well … MEGA

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Your work has featured globally in magazines and albums, and you’ve art directed a bazzilion covers for titles such as Acclaim, Wad and Kink. Was it always your aim to be a successful creative or did it just happen?

I am really dedicated to what I do. As far as I can remember I’ve always tried to make my passion my work but it didn’t come without sacrifice. It meant having little money, times when I had no personal life, plus I never had any idea of what my future was going to look like.

What most designers seem to forget is that even before being a good creative you have to be professional. It may sounds obvious, but even after all those years spent in industry I’m still amazed by the general lack of professionalism. Simple things like respecting a brief, formats, keeping deadlines, you have to do all this to become successful. Once people know they can rely on you, they won’t hesitate to call you back and spread your name around – then you find yourself working all the time.

You also have to be confident – as long as you consider something impossible, there are few chances that you will achieve it. So, when you face a closed door – blow it up.

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Did you do well with art when you were at school? When did your interest in making things look cool begin?

It all started when I was a kid. Back then, I would spend days and days cutting out magazine pictures and pasting new layouts, in order to create cool covers for my tapes. I did pretty bad in art at school. I had the usual bunch of bad teachers, who were more like frustrated unsuccessful artists than good educators. So I just stopped going to school and started spending most of my time painting the walls of my city and the trains in my area. In a way I hated graffiti more than I loved it. I was more attracted by the typographical researches, the forms and colours, than by B-Boy characters and all those “wild style” shitty letters that were considered to be cool at the time.

I never bought any graffiti magazines, and always found more inspiration in graphic design books. After a couple of years it became natural for me to explore the computerised possibilities – as an extension of what I did on the walls.

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Your skills aren’t just confined to the visual realm – you’re also a great writer. What’s your secret? Vitamins? Study? Natural awesomeness?

I was born awesome, with a book about vitamins in one hand, and a pen in the other!

I started writing when I worked as an art director for magazines. I was tired of waiting for poorly written interviews given way after the deadline. Secretly I knew I could do better. I began writing articles so I wouldn’t have to keep running after lazy journalists before I could do my layout. The bonus was to talk with cool artists I loved. Nowadays I’m constantly moving geographically, intellectually, and professionally, so I prevent myself from creative suffocation.

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Having been an art director yourself and now freelancing, which do you prefer? Being your own boss or bossing other people around?

I’m neither god, nor master. I’m a free sprit who can afford to relate only on itself, and being a freelance artist is the closest thing to freedom I know. People keep saying how lucky I am, not having to work if I don’t want to but luck has not much to do with it. I have two hands that allow me to work, a brain that allows me to interact with others, and two legs that allow me to escape in case of emergency, and so do you, hopefully. Being freelance only allows you to work day and night if you are motivated, and I chose this style of work as I’m motivated. Always.

At the end of the day, it’s more about satisfaction than enjoyment. I liked being an art director, and trust me, I wasn’t the bossy kind. I learned a lot of things, met a lot of cool people, had too many parties when I worked for magazines, and this was good at the time, but I’m more comfortable working by myself, just the way I want.

It looks like you’re a well travelled man – your Facebook page suggests you currently live in Bali? Creatively speaking what is your favourite city and why did you decide to settle there?

The younger me felt like a ‘girltrotter’, wishing to discover and learn more about females from all over the world. I respect and I love girls. They talk a lot, sometime behave in enigmatic ways, are always beautiful and fascinating animals. Being 31 years old I think I am now ready to stick and commit myself to one and one only, whatever that means. I’m ready to marry the first young and really beautiful cooker with a big brain and an intriguing personality I meet. What was the question again?

I used to live in Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and I’m now living in Bali. Deep inside I definitively consider myself as a citizen of the world. I try not to plan much in my life, I let myself go with the flow, but as for now I’m not even sure that I would be able to settle down forever anywhere. I love to travel and experience different cultures. I like to learn languages, try new yummy food, meet interesting people raised and surrounded by a different cultural and natural environment. I feel lucky I can seize those opportunities to constantly learn and discover more about humans and non-human beings.

Sometimes, there is a lil’ pragmatic MEGA in my head that whispers how much he would like me to settle down. The way I see things, the good balance would be to spend five months in Bali, five months in a big and challenging city like NYC, and two months visiting my friends and relatives in Europe.

Living inside my head clearly gives me a sense of separation, not to say isolation, wherever my current location is. This feeling of seclusion might encourage creativity, as you still have to entertain yourself in a way or another. For now, I literally live in the jungle, so the colours are very intense all around me. My influences might have been different if I was living in the middle of the North Pole in a totally white landscape, but I hear that drawing with big mittens is not that easy.

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Shed some light on how you came across the name MEGA. Is it an abbreviation? MEGA-TRON? MEGAMAN? MEGAMAZING?

Mega calculates the world in megabytes and maintains a megalomania that this interview is actually feeding. I have to thank you for that.

I keep in mind that the grace I enjoy today may be altered without prior notice. Life is a game with bitter accents, and the slang of my name -Game- (in French slang, we like to switch the words syllables) sometimes sounds like an enigmatic warning. In Indonesian Megah also means cloud, and if the sky is a limit for some, it nevertheless remains a playground that I like.

Mega is more like a girl’s name in Indonesia, which is cool to me, as I like those creatures.

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Who inspires you most these days, in terms of the art you see and experience?

I admire every artist who stays true and dedicated to himself.

I like Charles Burns, his work is clean and beautiful, and he tells inspiring stories about weird characters. I didn’t think I’d ever have the chance to work with Charles Burns, but a few weeks ago a Parisian gallery called Issue told me that one of my screen prints was being sold alongside with one of his. That may be a good start.

I’m not into comics, but somehow I always enjoy a lot of the books published by Fantagraphics in the US.

My favourite Australian artist is Kill Pixie!

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Tell us a bit about your involvement with the Carbon Festival, how did that all come about, and what is your part in the festival?

Every month I keep in touch with what’s hot and new by reading ACCLAIM magazine, and luckily they have a distribution all over South East Asia, including Bali. The great people who make the magazine are the same one’s behind Carbon. They offered me the opportunity to show my work in Fed Square/Atrium, which is a place I love. I’m featured alongside Futura, and speakers include the guys of The Hundreds, Mishka, and Complex. I am really proud and happy to be a part of this amazing event. Buy your tickets for the forum and come to see my art!

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How about the show you are doing in conjunction with it, Longing To Be Knotted together – what is the idea behind it, and what themes will you be showing? As this is a multiple-showing international exhibition how have you found the logistics of it all?!

I like to draw everything, and I have a special attraction to masked characters, costumes, strange make-up, that kind of thing. That must be the super-hero inside me speaking through my art.

This personal exhibition will be touring in Australia, Asia, and Europe. It’s all about hot rods, the jungle, insects, snakes, bikes, balinese hindu figures, girls, letterings, knives, masked characters, skulls. I know… I’m a boy. All those element were making noise in my brain so I decided to draw everything and mix it in a series of 11 two-color, hand-pulled screen-prints on art paper.

On a logistic and organization level, I did it all by myself. I’ve spent four months drawing constantly with no interruption, dedicating my whole life to my illustrations, allowing me some time to eat and sleep, but pretty much drawing all the time. Then I started looking for galleries who liked my art.

One day, I’ll sleep – people say it feels good …

Zombie Apocalypse. What would you take with you? Three things. Go!

  1. A pen
  2. Lots of paper
  3. A girl who is ok to be listed as a ‘thing’ so she can come with me …

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Check out more information Megas show, Longing To Be Knotted Together. Also take a look at Megas webpage here, as well as his facebook page. For more information on the Carbon Festival, swing by their website, We Are All Carbon.

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I'm a sleeper, a dreamer, a conniving schemer. Two parts imagination, one part reality. You know how it is.