NDEUR is Matthieu Missiaen, the happy-go-lucky rising star of Parisâ€™s emerging art and design circles. After a solid run with his art collective, the Charnel Bazâ€™art, and some TV appearances, he moved to Toronto to brush up on his English skills and maybe find some odd jobs. Little did he know that he would stumble across a killer concept that would propel him to international fame and fortune. In a saturated field of sneaker artists, NDEUR is paving new grounds, gracing heels and pumps of stylinâ€™ ladies across the globe.
â€œpeople in Paris also wear a lot more black. You donâ€™t have to show off too much, donâ€™t laugh too much, or get very excitedâ€
Format: Can you tell us what a typical day is like for you?
NDEUR: Well, I just finished something for Microsoft, but I canâ€™t tell you much about that at the moment, it hasnâ€™t been released yet. I did few designs for some French t-shirt companies and the cover for a Citizen Records compilation, theyâ€™re the label that puts out Teenage Bad Girl and Vitalic. But my main thing is the shoes. I have around 12 shops around the world that sell them, mainly in places like San Diego, Portugal, Belgium, and France. So I work on that and develop some new stuff. One of them these shops is affiliated with Vans, so have done some work for them too.
Format: Just girls shoes?
NDEUR: No no, I do guys and girls for them.
Format: Can you tell us about your artistic education.
NDEUR: I did two years of design, like web development and multimedia stuff on the computer. I stopped that in the middle of the 2nd year to go to a more traditional art school for one year like sculpture and painting.. And the same thing happened! I stopped in the middle of the year because I wanted to do an exhibition in the summer and it turned out really well. I sold 28 of my paintings.
NDEUR: Yeah, it was perfect. It helped me to say, â€œOk, I want to do this! I want to paint and do art.â€ So after a few years I did mostly painting and sculpture in Paris. I was also president of an art collective called the Charnel Bazâ€™art. It started in 2004. Our goal was to bring as many people as possible together, so that we could be more powerful as a group. We also had great funding from the government because the event was held in a poorer suburb of Paris that welcomed the artistic culture. So the ideas to have this big show where everything was all meshed together. It was held at a venue and the stage was all over the place. It was the kind of thing where we had installations where a director might be doing something with a sculptor, and a dancer, incorporating live poetry. The events are still taking place; weâ€™re working on one for this summer still. The idea is to take the publicâ€™s attention and to play with their focal points.
Format: What are some of your artistic influences?
NDEUR: It changes all the time. When I started, I was really in to classical painting from the 17th century where I focused on texture, light, body, anatomy, etc. but I was also always trying to mix it with graphic stuff because of my web design background. Right now, Iâ€™m working on learning Greek and Roman style murals and patterns. I try to design new shapes. I love a lot of stuff, but itâ€™s hard to say who my main influences are.
Format: How did you start with womenâ€™s shoes?
NDEUR: The story was that I was looking for a job when I came to Toronto. I was going all over the place, asking people for odd jobs, handyman kind of stuff because I have done some furniture restoration in the past. And I stumbled across this indie fashion boutique owned by a woman named Sarah Campbell, who hired me to paint the outside of her store. When she saw my portfolio, she was really impressed and we came up with this idea to work on the womenâ€™s heels. She gave me 10 pairs to work with and they all sold really fast. At that point we knew that we had something going.
Format: Is it a different process when working with a womanâ€™s shoe like a pump, or a heel?
NDEUR: I always work from leather shoes, because a lot of them are crap like plastic or vinyl which you canâ€™t really paint on. The first step is to take off the shoes varnish, and then I paint them with an oil marker. And then the last step is the re-varnish. But you canâ€™t use the same technique on every shoe. It depends if itâ€™s leather or suede or whatever. I always try to find a little recipe for every shoe.
Format: Do you feel strange as a dude designing ladyâ€™s shoes?
NDEUR: No I donâ€™t care. Itâ€™s like, at the beginning, I was really just thinking to put graphics on shoes, but now I find I can express myself more. I donâ€™t have enough time to work on my own painting stuff, so all of those ideas go in to the shoes. I can really have fun with it. I donâ€™t care what people think, its just art.
Format: How do you find the design industry in North America compared to Europe?
NDEUR: I love the energy here. There is a really different energy about creativity. It depends, you know, ideas are floating in the air. Sometimes someone might have the same idea in France. But for developing ideas, people here get way more excited over them. Itâ€™s really hard in Paris for people to get excited over your ideas. I donâ€™t even know what you need to do to make that happen. But here, I think, people are open to every kind of idea. It only took me six months, and I had international press. It was so fast! People here are more reactive too. They want it. In Paris, they donâ€™t want anything. The people in Paris that get hired to create are always the same. Itâ€™s always just a few people, so there arenâ€™t many chances to strike it big. And then you also have the weight of the culture resting on your shoulders. I donâ€™t know how to explain it, but you can really feel it. These guys are so full of Paris and all French culture, so they are fairly apprehensive about new ideas. Itâ€™s a very old-school mentality.
Also, people in Paris also wear a lot more black. You donâ€™t have to show off too much, donâ€™t laugh too much, or get very excited. Thereâ€™s something very neutral about the culture there. I think North America is a little more expressive.
Format: Do you feel that you have an advantage of being French in North America?
NDEUR: Oh definitely. Even more because of the whole Justice/ Ed Banger crowd. They say that French culture was in a bit of a recession last year, even the NY Times had this headline saying â€œFrench Culture is Overâ€ and it was so not true! French culture was exploding at the exact time of the headline. I donâ€™t think they had the right information. Being French definitely opened the door. When I go back home to visit my friends, I always tell them, you have to move to get established sometimes.
Format: Where does your name, NDEUR, come from?
NDEUR: Two or three years ago, everywhere you went you heard this word â€œundergroundâ€ being used by the media to describe the style that was coming out. I hated the term, it doesnâ€™t mean anything! And at the same time, I never used to sign my canvases, so I started signing UNDERGROUND in huge letters as a joke, almost touching the illustrations. I thought it was funny and ironic, so I kept it but I switched up the letters to make NDEUR.
Format: Can you tell me about your best experience with a client?
NDEUR: Yeah, I have a funny story. Last week, a guy asked me to draw his car with gold rims and two girls dancing in miniskirts on the top of the car, on the shoe. It was something impossible to do, but this guy was so in to it and sent me all these photos and emails. He was like, I want my Subaru with metallic blue. I canâ€™t do metallic blue on a shoe!
More Info: http://www.ndeur.com/