20 November 2015

Translation: Peace for Paris: Jean Jullien Tells QG How His Drawing Was Born

This article by Gonzague Dupleix was originally published on GQ France on November 16, 2015 in French.

An Eiffel Tower in the Peace and Love logo. This drawing with a clear message, immediately posted on social media, became the symbol for the outrage of Internet users after the attacks of November 13 in Paris. Its creator speaks with GQ.

Friday evening, an unprecedented wave of attacks hit the city of Paris. Jean Jullien, a 32-year-old French artist who attended Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London and the author of illustrations for many prestigious publications, took a brush and drew the first idea that came to his mind before posting the sketch. “Peace for Paris” immediately became everyone’s symbol for showing solidarity with a murdered nation. 

What were you doing at the moment you found out about the attacks?
I had just come back from vacation.

At what time did you say to yourself that you must bear witness, participate, express yourself?
Everything happened very quickly. Those close to me were communicating through writing. I wanted to respond too, in the only way I knew how, by drawing.

How did you conceive of associating the symbols (as timeless as they are old-fashioned) of Peace and Love and the Eiffel Tower?
It’s the first thing I drew on a piece of paper in my notebook, on my knees, as I was listening to the news and understanding the scale of the horror. It’s not an illustrator’s drawing with personal ends in mind, it’s the drawing of an individual trying to show his solidarity with the victims of the horror. The social media are now part of our mores. Expressing oneself online, instantaneously, it’s a positive thing in this kind of case. It allows us to not remain silent and to show that we are there.

Did you have any other ideas?
No, this is all that came to mind.

Are you able to understand why among image professionals, the drawer is the one we especially pay attention to?
I think there is something immediate and universal about the image. Contrary to language and languages, which can create a barrier, we can read an image without needing more information or knowing anything. It’s a powerful vector of communication in that sense.

Do words have a symbolic significance for you too?
Of course, but for others. I express myself through drawing more naturally. 

Had you already faced the idea of reacting to atrocities?
Yes, unfortunately, in January during the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. But I am faced with it everyday during the massacres that happen all over the world, not only in France.

Was Charlie a revealing case?
I don’t know. In France yes, but as I was saying, massacres happen everyday in the name of the same “causes.”

How can a drawer overcome the absurdity of the pencil as weapon relationship?
I don’t think a lot about it. It’s an honest gesture. I just want to show my united and touched thought process. Now this image belongs to all those who want to communicate a message of peace and solidarity. 

Before that day, was your work inspired by ideals, humanism, politics?
Yes, like everyone else, I have opinions. My work is not to strike down people through my images. I like speaking of people. My work is always based on observation, and I try to create visual commentaries through humor. I am not a politician, my work is to communicate positive things, to make people smile, and I hope, to also make them think from time to time.

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