Studying the symbols with Jim Kylam

9 MN

Studying the symbols

WITH Jim Kylam

A self-taught visual artist, he composes a graphic universe of symbols and ideograms. On paper as well as on skin, on canvas as well as on wood, the artist is spiritually and graphically inspired by occultism and mysticism. 

In a world that is sometimes too mundane, we were very much taken with the visual and spiritual escape that Jim Kylam offers in his creations. Beyond the aesthetics, the combination of these elements and the message that emerges from them, particularly touched us.

As part of our "Erreur 404" collection, he created the embroidery for our Harmony shirt. To delve into the symbolic study of his universe, we went to meet him in the workshop he shares with several artists in Pantin

Can you introduce yourself in a few words?

My name as a visual artist is Jim Kylam. I didn't go to art school, I did graphic design for a little while and graffiti for many years in my teens. When I arrived in Paris, I wanted to develop a more personal style, so I started to draw. 

As I didn't go to school, the easiest way for me was to work with paper and pencil. Later on, I was able to start tattooing, painting, ceramics and objects. In the end, I developed a universe that I transcribe on various mediums.

What is your working method? Do you know in advance which medium you are going to work in?

As I have a visual memory, I usually try to think ahead, imagine to find what I'm going to do. I think of it like a musician trying to find the melody that works. I think a lot about this kind of graphic melody, before I start. Then when I try to transpose it, sometimes I'm happy and sometimes I'm disappointed.

"I've always been a bit inspired by the occult, the mystical, but more in a graphic and spiritual way than really dogmatic."

We've noticed that you have a very recognisable palette, with blue, brown and black being recurrent. How did you come to use these colours?

During my graffiti period I used a completely different palette. And even when I continued to paint, I used more "classic" colours, but I didn't necessarily like them, I used them because they were effective. Then for a year or two, I refocused on black and white, something very simple. It was only in 2020 that I started to put some colour back into my work. I was trying to see it in a slightly different way, so I tried to find colours other than fuchsia or turquoise. To get away from that, to go for colours that are independently, not necessarily pretty, but that work well together. I still have a lot of work to do on that, I think it's the work of many artists to narrow down and find their palette.

Your universe seems to be very much imbued with mystical and spiritual iconography. Do you have any particular cinematic or cultural inspirations in your creations?

I really like the cinema of Kenneth Anger and Alejandro Jodorowsky. And I've always been a bit inspired by the occult, the mystical, but more in a graphic and spiritual way than really dogmatic. I've also always been interested in Freemasonic and other secret society iconography. I actually see my work as a kind of catalyst. Generally in my images there are several ways of reading, each person can see what they want to see and make it their own.

You have created your own tarot deck. Have you ever practised fortune-telling, or is it a world that has just marked you aesthetically?

It's not something I've practiced at all. It's actually not really a tarot deck, but more of what we call an "oracle". A pack of cards made up of words and symbols. It's a project that I had in mind for a long time and it came at a moment like an evidence, following my work of introspection. I wanted this project to be both personal and universal. As I wrote on the text that accompanies the game, the only rule is that there is no rule. In other words, everyone can use it as they wish. In the feedback I've received, there are people who make prints of it. Recently I heard that someone was putting a card in his room every day, it was his way of setting the mood of his day. That's what I like, this game has become a public domain. People have taken it over and done what they want with it.

You have launched a project called "Symbolism" on your Instagram account dedicated to tattooing. Can you tell us more about it? Where does this passion for symbols and ideograms come from?

When I started tattooing, I only did flashes, that is to say a drawing that is already done and that the person will get tattooed as it is. Then I thought it would be nice to do a project, where people could choose several symbols and create a composition with them. In my work, you mainly find the same symbols, which I shape in different ways, depending on the composition and the support. I also thought it was a bit too literal to just use these symbols.

"A symbol does not necessarily mean a word, but a word can give several symbols."

That's when I did a lot of introspection on my work, I wanted to understand why I used such and such a symbol at such and such a time. What came out were words. A symbol does not necessarily mean a word, but a word can give several symbols. For the symbolism project, I put 40 words on a table, people choose 3 of them, and according to their choices, I will make several drawings, to then evolve towards a tattoo.

You have characters that come up a lot in your creations, like those with two sides. Where does this come from?

I really like to work on duality, which creates balance. We all have this ambivalence, this joyful part and this dark part that make us up. There is no black or white world, in fact we are all a bit grey. I think my work is very much about that, which may explain why these faces with a drop on one side and a star on the other can often appear in my compositions.

Can you tell us more about the place we are in?

It's a workshop that we've been sharing for three years. On one side there is a photographer called Thomas Pico. And on the other, we have a three-person studio with Elliot Gamer and Samuel Eckert. For a long time I worked from home. I had a flat with a wall dedicated to painting and my creations. I find that having a studio shared with other artists creates a stimulation, it allows you to exchange, to collect opinions on your work, whether they are good or bad, it allows you to evolve.

You are also a tattoo artist, where can we find you?

In the same way, with some friends we share a salon in the 11th arrondissement, called "De Profundis" near Père Lachaise. I've been tattooing for 8 years and we've been in this salon for about 4.

The theme of our collection is "Erreur 404", what does that mean to you?

When I was a graphic designer, I used to do a lot of websites. The echo that "Error 404" can give me is that today it represents the fact that I don't want to do that anymore. Symbolically, it closes a chapter in my life.

What is your relationship with digital technology?

It's strange because I did it for a long time, but now I have an aversion to it. I used to do everything from A to Z, the web design and then the integration of the site. I did my own website a long time ago, but I don't want to touch it up anymore. When there's a bug, just going back to it depresses me completely. The smartphone in our pocket all the time, I think that's the most I can do. As soon as I'm in front of a computer, I can't spend much time on it, and I feel lucky that I don't have to. In most jobs nowadays, it's computers all day long. I was talking about it the other day with a client I was tattooing, and in the end, after spending a day on the computer, you come home exhausted, when you've just spent the day in front of a screen. That's why we're going through a period today where many people are reorienting themselves, changing jobs, because they reject digital technology. They want to have a more manual job, even though these are fields that have been much denigrated in recent years. I would say that I have a slightly ambivalent relationship, because on the one hand social networks are necessary for my work, but on the other hand I feel a kind of disgust, because I did a lot of it before.

That is to say that you use social networks more to communicate about your work than because you want to?

I mainly post my work, because that's what I like about Instagram, which is basically a social network of images, even if it has changed a lot nowadays. It's still very useful and interesting for people like me, who don't really know how to communicate, it's a way to make your work known. And let's face it, on social networks there is a rewarding side. There are studies that show that it releases dopamine. It's like a toy, you play when you post. But generally I don't post about my private life, I don't want to get into that exposure system where people know what your girlfriend looks like, or what you've eaten.

Do you have any current or future projects that you can tell us about?

I had several exhibitions at the beginning of the year. At the moment I'm more into creating objects, mainly in wood, and some ceramics. I work in phases, I will have my painting, drawing or object making phases. I really like the idea of creating a piece that is both unique and useful. I have a lot of inspiration from folk art and art brut in my objects. It's a very interesting field, I'm discovering artists who had a rather artistic practice of ceramics, which then drifted towards decorative art. I find that there is less of the speculative side of the art world, which I don't really agree with.

"I work in phases, I will have my painting phases,

drawing or making objects."

Earlier you made a connection with music. It's something that can sometimes be central to inspiration. What do you like to listen to and what motivates you in your creations?

I like it when there is rhythm. So it can be electronic music, or hip hop, or cold wave, new wave. I'm not really into classical music or jazz. At the moment, I am discovering more and more African music, around the disco period. If I had to name a project I'm listening to a lot at the moment, I would say Francis Bébey's album. It's called "Psychedelic Sanza" and it has been re-released by Born Bad Records, a Parisian label. It has both melancholic lyrics and the sunny side of African music. Afterwards I listen, I think like everyone else, to a lot of playlists, Spotify style, where now you can't remember the names of the artists. It's quite horrible, because before I used to take the time to digest, I used to download a lot of sounds. But nowadays with playlists, you recognise the sounds but not necessarily the titles or the artists, it's a bit of a shame.

"Epigraphie" an exhibition by Jim Kylam

It's been a long time since the Montmorency street shop has hosted an event! We are therefore very happy to invite you to the opening of the exhibition "Epigraphy" by the artist Jim Kylam, with whom we are already in our second collaboration. The artist will present us with some twenty of his latest creations on wood.

For more information, click on the banner above

Photographies : © Guillaume Landry

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Want to make a return request with a guest account?

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How long does it take to get my money back once my package has been sent?

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After you have submitted an order, the Customer receives by email and without delay a confirmation of his approval of the Order.

The Customer also receives by email and without delay, a receipt of the order sent electronically, regarding as a confirmation of the order (“Order Confirmation”).

The Customer receives electronically, the confirmation that the Goods have been dispatched.

The delivery shall take place at the location indicated by the Customer at the time of the Order.

Additionally, by undertaking these different steps to Order, the Customer accepts to strictly comply with this Agreement, in accordance with section 1316-1 of the French Civil Code.

The Vendor undertakes to deliver the Goods and Services subject of the Order Confirmation. In the event that a Good ordered is unavailable, the Vendor will promptly inform the Customer about this.

However, under section L.122-1 of the French Consumer Code, the Vendor reserves the right to cancel your Order if the Order is abnormal, involves bad faith or for any other reason that is under the sole discretion of the Vendor. The Vendor also reserves the right to reject orders from any customer with whom the Vendor have an ongoing legal dispute regarding a prior order.

Place of Delivery

The place of Delivery shall be determined by the Customer within the Territory, under sanction to refuse the Order.

The Customer is exclusively responsible for any error in the Delivery due to a lack of indication contained in the Order.

Amount of Delivery Charges

The amount of Delivery Charges depends upon the amount of the Order and upon the Method of Delivery the Customer chooses. In any case, the amount of Delivery Charges shall be indicated to you before the Order Confirmation.

The Delivery Charges are free if the amount exceeds EUR 200,00.

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Delivery Terms are expressed in working days and correspond to an average time for preparing and shipping the Order to the Customer.

Delivery Terms shall begin to run at the Order Confirmation date.

Delays

In the event of delays in the Delivery, the Order is not cancelled. The Vendor shall inform the Customer by electronic mail that the delivery will take place later than what was contemplated by the Parties. You will be then entitled to decide whether to confirm or cancel your order and shall send to the Vendor a cancellation notice of the Order at service-client@olow.fr.

If the Order has not been shipped yet at the time the Vendor receives the cancellation notice, the Delivery is effectively cancelled and the Customer is reimbursed of the payment he/she made, within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the cancellation notice.

If the Order has been shipped at the time the Vendor receives cancellation notice, the Customer is still entitled to cancel the order by refusing the Delivery. The Vendor shall then reimburse the Customer of the payment he/she made, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the returned products in the same condition as they were sent and must have their original label. The return expenses remain at the cost of the Customer.

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The Customer can follow the track progress of his/her Order on his/her account on the Website. Regarding the delivery progress, the Customer shall contact the Company to obtain a tracker number, to follow the progress.

Prix et délais de livraison précis

Shipping cost

> 1 kg1 > 2 kg2 > 4kg
5.56.57

Delivery time

3-5 working days

Allemagne, Autriche, Belgique, Bulgarie, Chypre, Danemark, Espagne, Finlande, Grèce, Hongrie, Italie, Malte, Pays-Bas, Pologne, Portugal, République Tchèque, Suède, Ukraine

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> 2 kg2 > 4kg
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Andorre, Biélorussie, Croatie, Islande, Monaco, Norvège, Royaume-Uni, Russie, Suisse, Turquie

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> 2 kg2 > 4kg
9.511.5

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Bahamas, Canada, États-Unis, Mexique

Shipping cost

> 1.5 kg1.5 > 4kg
1519.5

Delivery time

5-9 working days

Argentine, Brésil, Chili

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€27

Delivery time

6-9 working days

Arabie Saoudite, Bahreïn, Chine, Corée du Sud, Émirats Arabes Unis, Hong-Kong, Indonésie, Israël, Japon, Malaisie, Qatar, Singapour, Taiwan

Shipping cost

€24

Delivery time

4-7 working days

Australie, Nouvelle-Zélande

Shipping cost

€27

Delivery time

6-10 working days

Returns

You have received your order but the product does not suit you?

You can return your products within 15 days of receiving your package, for any order.

For the festive season, the deadlines are extended to 30 days.

The items must not have been worn, washed or damaged and must be returned in their original packaging, in perfect condition for resale.

The return costs are at the customer's expense (cost of shipping by the transporter chosen by the customer and any other related costs: customs duties, taxes, etc.).

How do I return my package from France?

To return your parcel, it is very simple :

  1. Go to “My account”, in the “My purchases” section,

  2. In the list of your orders, select your order,

  3. If your order is eligible for return, please tick each product you wish to return. If a product has been ordered in several copies, you can indicate the quantity to be returned.

  4. Indicate the reason for the return at the bottom of the order details and click on “Request a return”. You can track your return request in the “Returns” section of the “My purchases” section.

  5. Once your return request has been validated by our team, simply download the return form and place it in your package.

  6. Send your package to the address indicated on the return form.

Want to make a return request with a guest account?

It's very easy : contact us by email at service-client@olow.fr indicating your order number, the items you wish to return and whether you wish to request a refund, a credit note or an exchange.

The return costs are at the customer's expense (cost of shipping by the transporter chosen by the customer and any other related costs: customs duties, taxes, etc.).

How long does it take to get my money back once my package has been sent?

Refunds will be made within 10 days of receipt of your items and automatically to the account associated with the credit card used for payment or to the Paypal account used for payment.

Is it possible to return my item in the shop?

No, for all internet orders, returns can only be made to the address mentioned above.

What can I do if my item has a defect?

We take great care in the manufacture and finishing of our products. However, if you wish to report a manufacturing defect on a product, we invite you to contact our customer service by e-mail: service-client@olow.fr.

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