JEAN JULLIEN — Interview

Jean Jullien by Benjamin Mc Mahon

We are pleased to present you to the French artist, graphic designer and illustrator Jean Jullien. Currently based in London his practice ranges from illustration to photography, video, installations, books, posters and clothing to create a coherent and multidisciplinary body of work.


Hi Jean, how are you?

Pretty good.

Can you introduce yourself ?

Hey, my name’s Jean Jullien, I’m a 29 years old French artist living and working in London.

What do you like about this place?

It feels very “free” and open. People seem very enthusiastic about Creativity in general. I didn’t move there to leave France but I’m happy here for the moment. I feel like it gave me the ground to start a career in a way I couldn’t have in France.

What’s your interest about illustration and graphic design? When did you start?

I’ve always drawn. I was really into cartoons and comic books so I originally wanted to work in these disciplines but I didn’t get in to any school. The only school that would take me after my baccalauréat was in Quimper for a very technical and low key BTS in visual communication. I wasn’t too happy about it but I went anyway. I had great teachers and met a bunch of really good friends who shared the same passion for all things visual. That’s the first time I was introduced to graphic arts properly and illustration outside of the comic book and animation context. It blew my mind! Savignac, M/M Paris and Saul Bass were the first eye opener. After that I was lucky enough to get into Central Saint Martins in London and to pursue my discovery of Graphic Culture. I think my time in Quimper was, retrospectively, key to what I do today. It taught me the rules of graphic design and typography, something that I think is still very much present in my current work. Had I only started in CSM, I think I’d have lacked a great deal of consistence in my work.

Can you tell us more about “Le Nid” project?

Le Nid is a bar located in Nantes ( France) it sits at the top of a 144m building called Tour de Bretagne and overlook the city and its surroundings. There’s a 40 meters long bird resting inside the bar. The bar is located in its body, whilst his neck runs to the other end of the space, leading you to its massive head. His eyes opens and close regularly, as he falls asleep and wakes up. You can enjoy a drink in its egg shaped tables and chairs. Outside, the terrace offers a 360 degrees view with a giant orientation table that runs over 100 meters. A series of posters on light boxes presents a graphic take on 14 key locations in Nantes. Last but not least, Niwouinwouin as created a unique soundtrack to finish the identity of Le Nid.

What project has given you the most satisfaction?

I think it’s Le Nid. Because of its scale of course (it encompass all the areas I experiment/ create in) but also because it’s the one that taught me the most. It was such a long process, started from a scrap of paper and turned into this gigantic thing. There’s a lot of things that could have gone wrong and I had to rely a lot on the expertise of other people working with me on the project. Except for the Jullien Brothers project, I am used to be doing my work on my own so Le Nid was a big change.

You have your own style of illustration. What inspires and influences you?

Serendipity, cartoons, neat furniture, toys, comics, loads of thing really. I think if I had one very distinctive inspiration I’d end up always doing the same work (hopefully I don’t do that!)

Is there any designer / artist / illustrator /… from the past, you appreciate a lot?

Saul Bass, Vuillard, Tomi Ungerer, Georges Nelson, the Eames, Le Corbusier, Hans Hillmann and many many more!

Which book is on your bedside table?

A lot of comic books but also William Klein ABC and All by Maurizio Cattelan.

Some projects to come?

Loads. Some exhibitions, Niwouinwouin’s new album, a series of toys, some shoes, a candle for Colette, a series of toys, a big installation in East London, an installation in a Church, some new videos, and a lot of nice editorial and commercial projects.

The last word…




Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Baehler – 27.02.13

Jean Jullien’s portrait by Benjamin Mc Mahon.
All the illustrations are ©Jean Jullien.




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