Artist Series : Jean Jullien
Jean Jullien is a French-born artist who has been living in London for a few years. He didn’t move there to answer David Cameron’s call, but more with the idea of finishing his studies and to begin his life as an artist with a degree from the Royal College of Art in his pocket.
The universe of Jean Jullien is strongly inspired by comics and the popular culture of the 80s which he reinterprets based on events and current social facts. With his already well-established and clinical graphic style he focuses on a visual message by challenging his audience with the simplicity and eloquence of his illustrations, between other Medias.A good comic doesn’t go without a good story, and Jean Jullien has understood this. That is why he is committed to developing a story line in his exhibitions, a story that can easily be hung onto while avoiding getting lost in the middle of the art work. At his double exhibition[:)/:(] OLOW joins forces with Jean and releases two very limited edition items.
T-shirts will therefore be available at the l’Attrape Rêve exhibition until 30 August. So we therefore thought this was a good reason to present to you a little more of Jean Jullien’s work and universe within this interview.
1. Hi Jean, we have already started the presentations, but could you tell us more about your work and your journey so far?
I am a French artist who has lived and worked in London for 8 years. I started by getting a visual communication degree in Quimper before going on to London to do a degree at the Central Saint Martins College and the Royal College of Art which I left in 2010. So it’s now been three years since I have worked full time. My work is usually graphic and drawn but it often takes on other forms: video, photography, installations, etc. .. I regularly work with my brother Nicolas.
2. In your creations you give a major role to the message, why highlight this aspect in an area that plays heavily on aesthetics?
Because as the years pass, the less I care about aesthetics the more about the message. I do not look for beautiful piece, because there you find rules and principles of geometry, chroma, composition, etc. The beautiful piece … everyone can do it. The idea and the message is that of one which is truly unique. Work, according to me, depends on finding the best expression of this idea, the most relevant, most comprehensible, most effective, and sometimes perhaps yes, the most beautiful.
3. You manage to quickly get across your intended visual message, or the idea behind it. How do you work this eloquence into your creations?
I try to stay spontaneous. In all senses. I think it’s important to keep it simple when you want to interact with a wide audience. It’s different for a more narrative work where people are invited to enter a world and there one has ample opportunity to get across the point. In my work, I try to communicate with the public. To make them laugh, and then maybe think. That’s why I think we should keep it simple. All my editorial work is a great exercise for this; you have to work quickly while trying to give the best possible answer.
4. You are often inspired by the facts of today’s society, a theme that you treat with humour and mockery. Are you in fact some kind of cartoonist?
A Cartoonist is a real job, a specialty, and it is not mine. Others do it brilliantly … No, I use just design to respond to what I see, hear or read around me. It is important to remain “connected” with the world when working in communication. When talking with the people around me in my line of work or not, I must first know what’s around me and what’s going on around me. This is an exercise which I try to consider regularly and which comes in handy when I work for newspapers and magazines where you must react quickly.
5. There is often a storyline or a common thread in your exhibitions which we can cling on to between each visual. Why do you need this justification in your work?
Because otherwise I would only do exhibitions that were generic to showcase a range of works. With my website too, I prefer to try to surprise, to communicate and to tell something different in my exhibitions.
6. Apparently we can find you in Paris this summer, can you tell us a bit more about the double exhibition”[:)/:(]”?
Yes this is my first painting exhibition and it’s happening in two galleries at the same time. The first is the gallery Michel Lagarde, and the second gallery is l’Attrape Rêve… The exhibition is therefore divided into two parts: tragedy in the first gallery and comic in the second. My previous expo in London (Allo?) dissected our social and antisocial behaviour under the auspices of the technology. I wanted to continue this line of work with the new expo but this time completely concealing the technological part. So I chose to work with paint to explain the temporary rejection of the machine. An exercise that was dangerous for me but very rewarding.
7. I was told it would also be possible to find at the “[:) /:(]” expo at L’Attrape Reve gallery two styles of limited edition t-shirts designed by yourself and produced by Olow. Is this true?
Indeed, I worked with the brand Olow for the creation of these two t-shirts. The original paintings are exhibited at the l’attrape rêve gallery. I really like to test images on different materials and to see these two drawings as a framed painting and also as a t-shirt on a hanger is a perfect example of this exercise. The idea of producing a limited edition during the exhibition offers the public an alternative to paintings, but with attention to detail and quality that allows you to walk away with a piece of the exhibition with the impression of having no options barred.
I hope we have an opportunity to repeat the experience very soon!
8. So apart from that, what have you got planned in the coming months?
My brother and I are working on a large video installation for a hotel in Amsterdam. I have an exhibition on 12 September at the BEACH gallery in London. We are working on Niwouinwouin’s new album and I also work with a big restaurant in London to redesign the A to Z: a great project of the same scale as my work for le Nid (The Nest), in Nantes. I’m doing the poster for the Parisian festival FIREWORKS, and I’m also working at the moment with Esquire, the New Yorker and New York magazine. I’m also working with the baker Eric Jubin on a series of cakes.
There are lots of other projects, but you have quite a few there already.
9. A word to end?
“Bulgogi”. But apart from that I would like to thank the L’Attrape Rêve and Michel Lagarde gallery for making this double expo possible.
Also thanks to Olow for this superb collaboration.