Prolific graphic artist Jean Jullien shares some of his inspirations before the opening of his solo exhibition La Plage at Beach London.
Jean Jullien is a bold colourful artist with a distinct graphic style. Having trained at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art, the prolific illustrator, painter, designer and animator has developed a body of work that focuses on the humour and madness of human relationships and modernity in an Atelier Populaire poster art kind of way.
In his new show La Plage, which launches at Beach London, Brick Lane, on Thursday September 12, the London local (originally from France) builds on recent exhibitions Allo? At Kemistry Gallery, Shoreditch, and on work presented at Pick Me Up in Somerset House, to create a witty show full of the most beautiful sandy cracks and pissy slipstreams you’ll ever see.
We caught up with Jullien, who illustrated the cover of HUCK #033 The Identity Issue, ahead of the La Plage show and asked him to share some of the things that inspire him. Here’s what he said.
I keep a sketchbook with all my work-related ideas and questionings all year long. But it only truly comes alive in the summer on the beach. I spend hours just drawing people. I love how everyone is stripped down to their very core. No clothes to make you look tough, rich or cool – it’s just your body and you – which is something really great to draw as you don’t necessarily get to draw dozens of semi-naked people all the time. People change on the beach, they do weird stuff like lying on the floor for hours, walking too close to one another’s face, they show their bits, they bathe in each other’s pee. I mean I love it, but it’s kind of funny when you really think about it.
I got into graphics through skateboards and comic books. I was always a massive fan of skateboard graphics but it’s when I discovered Evan Hecox’s work for Chocolate skateboards that I really was blown away. Such imagination, colour sense, composition, everything was so well done. It made me realise that images don’t just belong in books and galleries and that you can communicate better when you communicate using what people use or love as a vehicle for your message. I’ve spent all my teenage years skateboarding. I’m slowly trying to get back into it with Dan Frost (who I share a studio with). It’s just the best feeling I’ve ever experienced, riding around the city and using practical architecture for non-practical purposes. It’s the ultimate act of appropriation and something I feel really strong about. It’s freedom at its basic.
I’ve always loved his work dearly but since I’m gradually trying to get away from my black-lined comfort zone without losing the backbone of my work (playfulness, I believe), I really relate to his visual stints. How he blends people into walls and patterns into one another. It’s not openly playful but I love how you can imagine him toying with things, seeing what works or not. I like his riskiness. But I’m really into painting in general. I always draw on paper and do my colours on the computer. I tried painting for the first time for my show in Paris in June this year and I’m definitely going to carry on.
I think I really need to get it out of my system and do a show just about dogs. I’m quite obsessed. Not in a lolcat kind of way (although… ) but I just love everything about them. They’re funny as hell. The loyalty thing is pretty fascinating and they’re immensely graphic. There’s always a dog lurking around in my shows but a dog-centric show would be pretty cool I think.
I collect random images found randomly. I’m a strong believer in serendipity and it does me good. My work is quite influenced by randomness. I use every idea that I have, put it on paper and try it out. It’s only when it’s been brought to life that you can judge whether it deserved it or not. So I like random images on the internet. They are so menial, odd, irrelevant, yet Tumblr’s boom has proven that to each image its audience. There’s something cool about that. It’s Cinderella-esque.