french illustrator jean jullien (JJ) currently has a solo exhibition entitled ‘allo’ at the kemistry gallery in london in this short interview he tells designboom (DB) more about the the work on show…
DB: much of the ‘allo’ show touches on how technology alienates people from face to face interaction, how is your own day to day behavior in this regard?
JJ: very bad! I’m married to my phone, which is why I didn’t feel bad aiming at it so bluntly in the show. I use social networks to share my work and have my email on all the time. whenever I’m ranting about people using their phone at the diner table or in the tube, my friends always remind me that I’m the first one to do it. so I’m laughing at myself firstly, but I think a lot of people identify with the characters in the show.
DB: your earlier work was mostly rendered by hand and even if it still maintains an analogue aesthetic it appears you now produce most of your work by digital means - why the change?
JJ: my work has always been based on drawing. even when I was doing craftier things, there was always a drawn dimension. it’s the same now, I still draw everything on paper but tend to tweak it a lot more on the computer now.
computers feel like a pandora box, the spectrum of possibilities is endless. I think illustration fitted the show better, so once the original drawing seemed right, I spent a lot of time making these images right on the computer to get the best result possible.
DB: you produced a great animated teaser for the show, do you see yourself working on more animation projects in the future?
JJ: my brother and I work under the ‘jullien brothers‘ moniker now for any moving image related work. I never want to ‘just’ do illustration. my first love is drawing but I think swapping between mediums is how I really enjoy my work the most. it’s still drawing, still the same ideas, but it takes a different form and allows me to do things I could do on a piece of paper.
plus it’s almost always collaborative, which is something I really enjoy as I have to let go. when I do my illustration work, it’s me myself and I. it’s very personal, almost intimate and frankly a bit more intense. you’ve got to let go a bit when you work with people.
working with my brother is ideal because we get on so well. he’s a musician and very good at moving image, I’m all things visual in a way. so it’s very complementary. but all the art direction and ideas come from the both of us.there’s a narrative dimension in moving image and animation that you can’t quite match in a single image (most of my illustrative work is in the poster form). that’s something I’m slowly but surely getting into.
DB: do you think the popularity of online design resources has heightened or lowered the quality of design being produced today?
JJ: not at all. I think it just seems that way because it’s easier for people to share their work and get exposure, hence things like pinterest which literally group together images of the same genre to create mood boards. if you look at design in the 50/60s, designers were all doing pretty similar things to one another: saul bass, georges nelson, alexander girard, paul rand, etc… it’s genres and trends that define eras. I think it’s a perennial human habit to do things like that. I don’t think it’s gotten worse or better I think we just are more exposed to what’s being produced.
DB: besides illustration what do you have a passion for?
JJ: I’m really into comics and skateboards. I’ve always loved them both and they’re both linked to what I do today, they are how I got into graphics in the first place. I use to collect stickers and anything graphic from skate shops, I loved how creative and ballsy they were compared to mainstream graphics. it’s a bit less relevant now with so many niche graphic scenes popping all over the internet. but comics still blow my mind in terms of ingenuity and imagination.. I’m also a pretty avid consumer of TV series like curb your enthusiasm, arrested development, etc… I love their sharp humour and social analysis.