After living in lockdown, we’ve transformed how we interpret and interact with private and public spaces, interiors and exteriors. We’ve learned that art, in all of its forms, including public displays 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 strife. 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 imaginations is most essential in precarious times.
The uncomplicated, whimsical style of Jean Jullien has become as essential as it is ubiquitous in a world in dire need of joy, escape, and fancy. Follow the French graphic design artist through his inventive career, spanning illustration, photography, video, costumes, installations, books, posters, clothing, and skateboards. At age 39, Jullien has captivated the global art world, delighting museums and galleries in cities such as Paris, London, Brussels, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul, and Singapore. He’s collaborated with myriad 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.
Indulge in a comprehensive survey of his career so far with a vibrant Phaidon hardcover monograph, featuring 340 illustrations across 256 pages. The uplifting book is available to pre-order now for April 21 shipment at $69.95.
Jullien is riding the wave of his recent solo exhibition, CHUT, which closed March 15 at Kantor Gallery in Beverly Hills, California. The show’s playful title borrows from the French onomatopoeic “shh.” Ten new paintings on view explored the highs and lows of surfing, and Jullien’s bold leap into fine art.
Phaidon’s Jean Jullien is divided into three sections investigating the artist’s own gaze into his career: the personal, the collaborative, and the public. His quirky art takes on serious subjects and has acted as a call and catalyst for peace and change. Jullien published a drawing in solidarity after the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015, and he reinvented the peace symbol to invoke the Eiffel Tower in response to the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.
Personal takes readers on a journey of Jullien’s influences and inspirations, navigating beaches, surf, and family life, including an intimate interview between Jullien and his 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,” Sylvie Jullien reveals. “When you gave us presents, they were always drawings. We kept them, of course. You’ve always been creative. In a way, that turned you off traditional education and school a bit. But as soon as you were given a chance to express yourself through drawing, you got yourself noticed and could convince anyone of your talent. You used drawing as a way to communicate your ideas.”
Collaborations draws us deeper into Jullien’s professional life, through interviews with Mathieu Van Damme, the founder and creative director of Case Studyo, and Jae Huh of Nounou. Van Damme encountered Jullien on Instagram, noting that the artist “posted almost daily–illustrations on everyday life and topics in the news.” Van Damme reached out to Jullien and their first shared venture, Bright Idea, was quickly born. “Yes, that was a lamp. Yes,” Jullien cheerfully notes. This chapter highlights the importance of Jullien’s prolific brand partnerships, running the gamut from streetwear to drinking glasses embellished with his singular droll 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 weekly French cultural and television magazine Télérama, explains in an essay how the two worked together to represent COVID-19 on the glossy cover. “I knew that 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 the Alice Gallery in Belgium, offers context that conveys the scope and impact of Jullien’s oeuvre. “He holds up a mirror to society in which we can all see ourselves,” Cruyt eloquently explains. “The tone is light, his empathy is natural, the message universal.”
“I wish we could all see the world through Jean’s eyes–with this unique wonder and attention to humanity,” Sarah Andelman, the founder and creative director of Colette, a Parisian concept store located on the city’s Rue Saint Honoré, expresses in the afterword.
Through Phaidon’s careful curation, we can all have a glimpse.