Some artists creep into your consciousness. Others burst into your eyeballs. Jean Jullien seems to have achieved both.
We can’t remember the exact first time that we saw a piece by Jean. It could have been on the advertising hoardings for House of Illustrations or his spot pieces for The Guardian. It could have even been in one of the bajillion blog pieces that eagerly heralded his talent over the summer.
All we know is that by the time Jean’s work had sunken deep into our brains, he was the only person that we could think of for our tenth issue cover. Normally we fret and worry about who’ve asked to pen the cover. Did we send the right brief? Is this artist right for this issue.
This time, however, we knew that it was fate because a mere hour after sending our introductory email, we went to Byron Burger – where Jean’s was all over the menus and walls. His illustrations beamed up from the table and told us ‘all will be OK’. Or, at least, ‘here are some lovely burgers’.
Jean went on to absolutely nail the cover, obviously, and help us get OFF LIFE in front of new eyes. So we wanted to say a proper HELLO, and ask what gives the man his style.
It’s fair to say that you’re illustrations’ man of the moment. Are you comfortable with all the love being thrown your way?
It’s very nice and I’m very grateful. But I’d rather run the marathon than the sprint.
Part of the popularity of your work must be its distinctiveness. Once you’ve seen a Jean Jullien, you’ll spot another. How would you describe your style?
My work is simple and humorous. Most of the time it’s idea based and playful. I tend to approach my work like problem solving: I’m being asked a question that I try to answer in the most creative and efficient way.
Can you remember the earliest thing that you liked to draw? Do you think it influenced your style?
Super heroes! And oh yeah, the very idea of super heroes is a fantasised depiction of reality. A ‘super’ human is nothing more than a fabled human. My work is like a fabled documentation of our lives, a visual interpretation of what I see everyday.
You recently created the cover artwork for our tenth issue. What was the concept behind it?
I wanted to draw a scene on the cover, that was the loose concept. I liked the visual echo to the word. From that, I tried to think of a typically current and quite problematic situation that could potentially occur in bed, in response to the “comics for a lost generation” tag line.
Is it a concept that troubles you?
Not at all. I think all generations seemed lost at their time, it’s evolution. Every radical change in social behaviour scares the previous establishment. At first it’s worrying, then it settles to establish itself as the norm, but as normality rise, chaos and movement automatically appear as a reaction. It’s like a chemical solution: a mix of various hazardous elements whose marriage has got everyone alerted and that give a sense of relief when it has finally settled.
You’ve also recently created a cover for Wrap. How have you built up this momentum?
They were kind enough to call me, so I answered.
And how are you going to keep it up? Is there a master plan?
Keep it exciting and changing, so that neither you or I get bored. I also want to tell stories more, about us people. I think social commentary, as a form of visual ‘paraphrase’ of journalism, will always be relevant.
Any other artists that you’d like to shout out before we get out of your hair?
Yann Le Bec, Daniel Frost, Thibaud Herem and Gwendal Le Bec: the dream team.
Thanks Jean, keep up the good work. We look forward to seeing what you come up with next!
Thanks, I’ll try to make it good!