Jean Jullien’s work is both practical and visual. His creations, often drawn with simple brush pens, are a commentary of life. A visual commentary of everyday, practical things or events. His work is exciting and yet, practical.
His simple drawings can pervade a message and used in practical, everyday things such as clothing and rugs. It is a form of visual excitement through practicality.
Jean Jullien is a French graphic artist currently living in London. He comes from Nantes and completed a graphic design degree in Quimper before coming to London. He graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2008 and from the Royal College of Art in 2010. He works closely with the musician The Coward.
His craft ranges from illustration to , video, costumes, installations, books, posters and clothing to create a coherent yet eclectic body of work.
His clients and projects include such names as the New Yorker, New York Magazine, Tate, Channel 4, Colette, Byron Burger, Carluccio’s, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Centre Pompidou, Nike, Pitchfork, Flammarion, It’s Nice That, Waterstone’s, The Guardian, The New York TImes, Les Inrockuptibles, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin,Yale University, Télérama, BMW, Renault, The Big Chill, NSPCC, Action Aid, Science Council, Graniph, Huck, Little White LIes.
In 2011, he founded Jullien Brothers, a duo specialized in moving images.
In 2012, he created News of the Times : A visual blog with Yann Le Bec and Gwendal Le Bec.
When did you first discover that you would make drawing and illustration a life passion?
I always drew, like most kids, but grew up reading a lot of comic books and watching a lot of cartoons. My dad and uncles had a huge comic book collection that had a real impact on me. And my mother was a curator and architect that introduced my siblings and I to a lot of Art. So in a way, I grew up with Art: the gallery kind as much as the popular one. It became so familiar that I started expressing myself with it. It made sense to do something for a living that would use this visual langage I had developed. But I was a deplorable student in most academic disciplines and that closed the doors to many animation, fine art or comic book schools to me. That’s just the way the french system works, it’s very archaic. Fortunately, I ended up in a low key Graphic Design school in brittany were I met a bunch of passionate peers and fantastic tutors that showed me the work of icons such as Saul Bass, Alan Fletcher or Paul Rand: people who bring creativity in everyday life, what I call practical Art. With their work I realised that you didn’t have to limit creativity to galleries or books but that you could apply it to everything. I never studied illustration, but did 8 years of Graphic Design courses, from Brittany to Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art.
What is your primary target audience in your field of work?
Everyone, this is the whole point of Popular Culture: it’s for everyone.
What media do you enjoy best when working on a project?
That doesn’t matter much to me, I’m more interested in ideas and what works best to express them. There’ll likely always be some sort of drawing in it because that’s my langage but it’s a “matter” that I like to stretch as much as possible to see what happens when it breaks. I like working with accidents.
But these ideas can take any form, as long as it communicates best.
What has been some of your most memorable art projects?
Working with my brother is always a highlight as it is so symbiotic. It’s a real cathartic playground for ideas and experiment.
But in general, working with people is always a treasure because it challenges you, it forces you to try things another way and to get out of your comfort zone. Working with great Art Directors can do wonders for an illustrator, it can make him reinvent himself without knowing it.
Can you tell us more about what’s behind the story book Ralf?
Well that’s quite simple, I love dogs, always have. I draw them a lot and like to challenge their shape, to play with their body, etc.. It’s like a caricature: you draw the basic and see what you can emphasise whilst still keeping the subject recognisable. Formally, a Daschund looks funny because of its long body, well how far can you stretch it? that’s the synopsis of Ralf.
I love how your art is incorporated into everyday products, like a rug or shirt. Can you take us through a project from strart to finish.
Well it’s often like problem solving: you’re being asked a question and you have to answer in the most creative way. You have to challenge things a bit. I usually listen to said question, then look around to see what could help me articulate a creative and efficient answer. Ideas are like play dough, you have to work them to see what shapes works best to tell the story you want to tell. So if I’m being asked to work on an object, I try to create a little story, a gag, a one liner and see how I could incorporate the object in the scenario so that it becomes a narrative tool and not just something decorative. If it’s a mug, the surface should be played with, the function too. it’s a good way to challenge the role of images and involve them a bit to break the divide content/ contenant that is so typical of decorative arts.
Jean Jullien is a graphic artist, illustrator and film maker living in London, England.