Life of an exceptional alien in London with Jean Jullien.

Life of an exceptional alien in London with Jean Jullien.

Where to begin with Jean Jullien? From Nantes, France, he moved to London in 2005 as a student and is today one of the world's most popular artists, whose creations just seem to take on a life of their own. Jean's environment in London has been a major source of inspiration and visual commentary over the last decade in his art, product design, installations, video, books or doodles at the pub, featured everywhere from The New York Times to The Guardian or National Geographic. We spoke to Jean about creative life in London and his fascination with Londoners.

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ON WHERE YOU’RE FROM

From Nantes, France, on the west coast.

ON WHEN YOU MOVED TO LONDON 

2005, to study at Central Saint Martins.

ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH LONDON 

Complicated! It’s given me so much and allowed me to try a lot of things. But now I’m moving away for personal reasons so I’m slowly learning to say goodbye. It’s been such a big part of my life.

ON WINDOW SEAT OR AISLE 

I prefer window to see the view. But because I have long legs I have to sit in the aisle!

Air travel through the the eyes of Jean Jullien. Artwork by Jean Jullien.

ON HOW LONDON INSPIRES YOU

A lot, there’s a lot to see. People, places. London has been a big inspiration of mine over the past 10 years. I’ve done a lot of work based on people and social behaviours. I’ve slightly deviated over the past year or so, feeling more inclined to draw the beach and outdoors reminiscent of holidays rather than daily life in the city. But I find social environment fascinating in general, and London is pretty special in that regard.

ON SOMETHING YOU WOULD DESCRIBE AS ‘ONLY IN LONDON’

The amount of pubs, it’s incredible.

London has been a big inspiration of mine over the past 10 years..I find social environment fascinating in general, and London is pretty special in that regard.

ON WHERE YOU FIND INSPIRATION 

I’ve got a soft spot for pubs. I love the atmosphere and the mix of people. I could draw for hours in the pub, just looking at faces and behaviours. I also love Kew Gardens and South Bank. But my favourite spot in London has always been the Barbican. I’ve actually shot a movie there for my final project at Central Saint Martins, featuring “the Barbican Futurists!”

ON HOW STUDENT LIFE IN LONDON SHAPED YOUR WORK 

Totally. I met people from all over the world, with backgrounds and experiences very different from mine. So I learned a lot from people. London is also a city that has a lot to offer if you want to start something. Creatively speaking, it felt like it was really easy to get started, and there was an overall enthusiasm for creative things that made it super stimulating.

Above: Tako the squid, a limited edition product of 30 by Jean Jullien. Below: Observing life at the beach. Artwork by Jean Jullien.

ON WHAT TO DO VISITING LONDON 

Going out. Make the most of what the city has to offer. It hasn’t been a relaxing city for me but it’s been incredibly stimulating.

ON SOMETHING FROM FRANCE YOU NEED A FIX OF IN LONDON

E5 bakery makes some good Croissants! But France is so close that if I miss something from there, I “just” have to cross the channel.

I’ve got a soft spot for pubs. I love the atmosphere and the mix of people. I could draw for hours in the pub, just looking at faces and behaviours.

ON LONDON IN ONE WORD

Busy! But there’s something lovely about the amount of parks here, like pockets of green calm in the middle of the city, here and there. It’s a contrast that sums up the contrasts within the city quite well.

Above: Jean Jullien’s miniature exhibition at Arsham Fieg gallery, New York. Above left: Mini figures of KITH founder Ronnie Fieg and Jean Jullien checking out artwork. Above right: Gallery security. Below: London’s evolving skyline. Image by Robert Bye.

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Nuggets in this interview

inspiration

The Barbican, London

"My favourite spot in London has always been the Barbican".

–Jean Jullien

inspiration

Kew Gardens, London

"I love Kew Gardens..there’s something lovely about the amount of parks here, like pockets of green calm in the middle of the city, here and there"

–Jean Jullien

inspiration

Southbank, London

"I love South Bank".

–Jean Jullien

food and drink

e5 Bakehouse, London

"E5 bakery makes some good Croissants!".

–Jean Jullien

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