After living in confinement, we have transformed the way we interpret and interact with private and public spaces, interiors and exteriors. We have learned that art, in all its forms, including public exhibitions and accessible commercial creations, is more meaningful than ever. We need art to connect with others, to understand ourselves and our environments and relationships, and to find solace amid deadly pandemics, geopolitical unrest and ongoing social conflict. Sometimes the simplest images and ideas offer the most profound answers and anecdotes. Art that manipulates scale and navigates the nebulous oscillation between perceived reality and our imagination is most essential in precarious times.
The uninhibited and whimsical style of Jean Jullien has become as essential as it is ubiquitous in a world longing for joy, escape and fantasy. Follow the French graphic designer through his inventive career, spanning illustration, photography, video, costumes, installations, books, posters, clothing and skateboards. At 39, Jullien has captivated the global art world, delighting museums and galleries in cities including Paris, London, Brussels, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore. He has collaborated with a myriad of brands including Beams, RCA Records, The Connaught, Colette, Amnesty International, Le Coq Sportif, Jardin des Plantes (Nantes), Hotel Amour, Champion USA, Salomon and Petit Bateau.
Treat yourself to a comprehensive survey of his career so far with Phaidon’s animated hardcover monograph, featuring 340 illustrations across 256 pages. The uplifting book is available for Pre-order now for shipping April 21 at $69.95.
Jullien is riding the wave of his recent personal exhibition, SHH, which closed on March 15 at the Kantor Gallery in Beverly Hills, California. The playful title of the show borrows from the French onomatopoeia “chut”. Ten new paintings on display explored the highs and lows of surfing and Jullien’s daring leap into fine art.
by Phaidon John Julien is divided into three sections exploring the artist’s view of his career: the personal, the collaborative and the public. His quirky art tackles serious subjects and has acted as a call and a catalyst for peace and change. Jullien published a solidarity drawing after the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015, and he reinvented the symbol of peace to invoke the Eiffel Tower in response to the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.
Staff takes readers on a journey through Jullien’s influences and inspirations, navigating beaches, surfing and family life, including an intimate interview between Jullien and her parents, Sylvie and Bruno.
“You drew everything, the people around you, your surroundings, your parents, your brothers and sisters, your grandparents, your world, your games,” reveals Sylvie Jullien. “When you gave us gifts, it was always drawings. We kept them, of course. You have always been creative. In a way, it took you away from traditional education and school a bit. But as soon as you were given the opportunity to express yourself through drawing, you stood out and were able to convince anyone of your talent. You used drawing as a way to communicate your ideas.
Collaborations immerses us in the professional life of Jullien, through interviews with Mathieu Van Damme, the founder and creative director of Case Studyo, and Jae Huh of Nounou. Van Damme met Jullien on Instagram, noting that the artist “posts illustrations about daily life and current topics almost daily.” Van Damme contacted Jullien and their first joint venture, brilliant idea, was quickly born. “Yes, it was a lamp. Yes,” notes Jullien cheerfully. This chapter highlights the importance of Jullien’s prolific brand partnerships, spanning the gamut from streetwear to drinking glasses adorned with his singular funny face motif.
The final section illuminates Jullien’s perspective and method for art created solely for public consumption, ranging from magazine covers and illustrations to colossal installations in public parks. Loran Stosskopf, creative director of the French cultural and television weekly Telerama, explains in an essay how the two worked together to portray COVID-19 on the glossy cover. “I knew Jullien would immediately illustrate an image that had no trace of negativism or alarmism,” Stosskopf wrote in an essay for the monograph.
In the introduction, Raphaël Cruyt, who together with his wife Alice van den Abeele founded Galerie Alice in Belgium, provides a context that conveys the scope and impact of Jullien’s work. “He holds up a mirror to society in which we can all see ourselves,” Cruyt explains eloquently. “The tone is light, his empathy is natural, the message universal.”
“I wish that we could all see the world through Jean’s eyes – with this unique wonder and attention to humanity”, Sarah Andelman, founder and creative director of Colette, a Parisian concept store located rue Saint Honoré, expresses in the afterword.
Thanks to Phaidon’s careful curation, we can all get a glimpse.