His name is Valnoir and he is the founder of Metastazis one of the most talked about design studios in all of metal music. If you do not know his name right away…all I have to say is he is the guy who printed posters for Waitain in his blood. Most recently he did the ornate design for the new Black Dahlia Murder record. Often artists who work in illustration are afraid to speak their mind’s in fear of alienating a potential client and in that respect they are often very different than their fine art brethren. But you get none of that with Valnoir. Here is the first part of a very engaging interview:
How did you get your first paying art job?
10-ish years ago, I was 20 or so, I was contacted by a pretty bad band called Fornication, to make their whole website, including code etc. It took months, tons of daily modifications, for a result that was a graphic mutant monster. It’s pretty hilarious to see now how bad it looks. I asked 100€ for this at the end. And the guy treated me as a rip-off, cause his friend told him that a website was not worth much than 50€. So he sent me 50€. I insulted him so much that I got my extra 50€.
For some reasons that you can easily imagine, I quickly decided to change a few things in my way to manage my studio.
Who are your artistic influences?
Namedropping chaos : NSK/New Collectivism, Viennese secession/Koloman Moser, Hermann Nitsch/Viennese actionism, Mexican calaveras, art-deco, art nouveau, soviet constructivism, nazi kunst, Chris Ware, Byzantine art, Steichen, Helwein, Mirko Ilic, psychedelic design, Gustave Doré, Philippe Druillet, tumulary art, the sun and anything related to the human interpretation of death.
What words best describe your artistic style?
I try not to be trapped in a “style”, it’s something I want to avoid as much as possible. I try to adapt the formal aspect of an artwork to the message the band carries. I won’t use a pure totalitarian style supposed to carry a violent message for an Alcest album, neither psychedelic colorful elements for Antaeus, nor dressed animals for Watain. I’m a mercenary and so is my style. I can adopt any banner as mine if it’s worth it.
Tell us about your studio space?
I share a space in the center of Paris, 10th district, in an old bourgeois building. There is a patio with trees for BBQs, red wine binges, orgies, masses. I share the space with a bunch of hippies leading a trendy designer organic tshirt brand called Monsieur Poulet, and an Architect-gardener who is never there because he’s sleeping on the beach. They are almost as stupid as I am, so the atmosphere is pretty self-destructive and I enjoy it.
Take us through a typical day of Valnoir?
Wake up at 8:00 am in my flat in the 15th district of Paris, up at 8:30am , dressed, I grab a croissant on the way, I arrive at my workshop, 10th district, at 9:30-10:00am. From 10:00 to 1pm, I focus more on my corporate clients, as it’s a pain in the ass, I prefer to do it first, quickly, when my mind’s still fresh. Then, lunch. Depends on the day: home-made salad, ribs at the corner’s butcher and BBQ in our patio, kebab, sushi, Parisian sandwich, raw ground meat, or just a bottle of red wine. I dedicate the afternoon to Metastazis . Until 5/6/7/8 pm, depends on my charge of work, motivation, and if I’m hungry. Apperitif with the hippies of Monsieur Poulet in the patio, then diner with friends downtown, followed by any kind of debauchery, or quiet night with the lady followed by any kind of debauchery.
What is Metastazis all about?
Fucking as many 19 year old design students as possible.
And beside this, it’s pretty secondary but :
The goal of Metastazis is to offer unexpected, new, contemporary, intelligent, genuinely provocative design to extreme musical scenes. Design in those scenes is led by conservatist amateurism. Photoshop mis-used by semi-designers copying clumsily mediocre stuff they previously saw. By the way, difficult not to see there an analogy to the scenes themselves : Guitars mis-used by semi-artists copying clumsily mediocre riffs they previously heard. I’d like my work to be educative, to open those sheeps eyes and mind to higher quality ideas and design.
Where does the name come from?
When you baptize your dog with a complicated name such as Himmler or Drug Dealer, you still can use a nickname afterward. But the name of a “public” entity such as my studio or a band will stick to your ass until the project dies. I chose this name because I wanted to show that that studio was pluridisciplinary. Like a cancer in the creation body spreading its metastasis upon every creation organs. And I putted a Z instead of the S because it was looking so cool.
Youth is sometimes cruel afterward.
I’m thinking about re-baptizing it some day but it’s pretty delicate. But at the end, this is secondary.
Come back tomorrow for part 2 and check out more of his work at: Metastazis.com