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DJAB x MEKA: From Skateboarding to Art

10 June 2021
DJAB x MEKA DJAB x MEKA

Thibaut Désiront, a graphic design graduate with a fine arts background, is a Montreal-based artist of French origin better known as MEKA. He emerged from the countercultures of skateboarding and punk music and began his career by drawing flyers and posters for concert halls.


Today, he has worked with leading streetwear names such as Nike, Converse, Stüssy, adidas, and others.

Thibaut grew up reading comic books, which had a strong influence on him. Like the strips in newspapers with a humorous take on topical issues, he believes comics are a playful expression used as a means to transcend struggles. Inspired by artists such as Milton Avery, Jacob Lawrence, and Larry Clark, he draws in thick black lines a world of colourful shapes with no illusion of depth but filled with emotions.

Graphic art pieces by Thibaut Desiront aka MEKA Graphic art pieces by Thibaut Desiront aka MEKA

MEKA's art—inspired by his own experiences and pop culture—depicts a narrative from skateboarding culture's lifestyle and values. His pictographic characters embody the universal appeal of pushing your own limits.

logo Keep Pushing logo Keep Pushing

 

In 2014, the artist unveiled his famous series: Keep Pushing. Like a storyline of his artistic identity’s evolution, skateboarding culture has shaped who he is today: 

 

“In skateboarding, when you fall, the only thing you can do is get back up. If you want to pull off your trick, you have to start over and try again until you get it right. It's much more than a sport; it's a life philosophy, and it's a big part of what defines me as a person and an artist. No matter the obstacles you face in life, you have to keep pushing yourself to go above and beyond every day.”

Graphic art pieces by Thibaut Desiront aka MEKA Graphic art pieces by Thibaut Desiront aka MEKA

In 2015, Thibaut formally unveiled the Push series, his first solo exhibition. This collection of more than 20 paintings, as an organic sequel to Keep Pushing, explores the themes of inspiration, positivity, and pushing your own limits.


From art to streetwear 

Essentially created by subcultures, streetwear is much more than fashion. The sense of identity is at the heart of the street movement: wearing a brand, symbol, or cultural reference is showing the world that you belong to a group or an ideology.

“T-shirts are a communication medium; they serve to tell a message or showcase your style—which is a message in itself. Subcultures play a key role in defining a person's identity and personality. Displaying them is just as important.”

MEKA's pieces were born from an inherent inspiration, a need from within him that he expresses through illustration. Creating is primarily a personal experience, but for Thibaut, from the moment his art takes shape and is revealed to the world, it no longer belongs to him.

“That's the real beauty of it: it's when people take ownership of a work of art that it finds its resonance. It's by interpreting it through their own individuality that it takes on a universal dimension. The emotional attachment people develop with my characters is what makes them even more interesting.”


Collaborations 

MEKA believes that for any partnership to take off, it must be part of a shared cultural and identity paradigm. That’s how DJAB x MEKA came to be; it took form through shared values and an understanding of the skateboarding world.



Here are some of his most notable collaborative projects:

ROMEO'S GIN x MEKA

The mural in the industrial staircase at 455 and 5445 De Gaspé Street, in the Mile End borough, represents a desire to create an unusual space for contemplation and a way for urban art to take its rightful place at the heart of buildings, on a human scale.

LIVE PAINTING

• Off the Hook x MEKA at the MURAL Festival, Montreal, 2017
• Osheaga Festival, Montreal, 2017

ADIDAS SKATEBOARDING x MEKA

Spring/Summer clothing collections in 2016 and 2019.

SKULLCANDY x MEKA

A special edition of Grind headphones designed for limited release through Zumiez, 2016.

VIOLENT BY DESIGN

A group exhibition highlighting today's best illustrators and designers behind the skateboarding and streetwear industries, 2015.

CONVERSE x BE STREET BLACK BONES CLUB

An on-site drawing contest at a 2012 concert in Paris with artists Iain Macarthur, Nikibi, McBess, Marcus Dixon, Haribow, Blug, and Ludovic Noir.



If there's one thing to remember from MEKA's journey, it's to never set your passions aside, never give up, and accept and push yourself, each and every day, by doing what you love.

Follow him on Instagram!