INTERVIEW: Jean Jullien Discusses Music & His Collaborative Project with RCA Records

RCA Collective, a collaborative venture by RCA Records focused on the arts, taps Jean Jullien for its first project in the form of a limited edition print and small capsule collection available today. The London-based French illustrator and graphic artist gave SUSPEND his take on music and his creative approach to the RCA Collective artwork. 

 Jean Jullien for RCA Collective. 

Jean Jullien for RCA Collective. 


DIANE: What’s your earliest memory involving music?

JEAN JULLIENThe Rolling Stones! Paint it Black, I think. My dad had always been a big fan of the Rolling Stones. When we were kids he used to say jokingly, "There are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who like the Rolling Stones, and the ones who like the Beatles. WE like the Rolling Stones."

DIANE: Do you often listen to music while you work?
JEAN: All. The. Time. I work with my brother who is a musician. It's just the two of us in the studio and we constantly listen to music. We have a lot of playlists and spend a fair amount of time looking for new music. It's very important to us.

DIANE: The same way you’ve described your body of work as this sort of daily visual commentary on life, what role do you think music plays in the realm of Art and Communication?
JEAN: Music is Art and Communication in itself. I find it incredibly influential on me. There's a song for each mood. One to perk you up when needed. One to bring back memories. One to calm you, etc. I love music because it can be a companion to other activities or endeavours. For imagery, you have to take time to look at the subject matter. And when you take your eyes off it, you're onto a new visual. Whether sound can accompany you through journeys, activities... It's powerful.

DIANE: One of your first solo exhibitions, entitled “Allo?,” is a personal favorite of mine because it put such a critical focus on the modern ways humans communicate and interact with one another through various social mediums and digital ‘screens.’ What’s your take on how music is consumed – and created – nowadays?
JEAN: Any progress in making culture accessible is interesting, I think. And music is more than ever accessible now. It's funny because I feel like since I was born, we went through cassettes, CDs, minidisks, MP3 to streaming. It's really interesting how it's grown as well. There's soooo much stuff now. So many bands, genre and songs. It's impossible to keep up so you either have to dedicate a lot of time to finding new stuff you like or rely on algorithms and playlists. It's like an ocean where you have to find the right boat to navigate. 

DIANE: What was your creative approach for this piece you made in collaboration with RCA Collective featuring Nipper, the beloved RCA pup?  
JEAN: I draw a lot of dogs. I've always loved them and find them to be a really fun and charming animal to draw. It's also very linked to us humans and our social behaviours. It's a nice narrative tool to describe daily situations that most of us can relate to. I had this famous painting of dogs playing poker in mind. It's similar in the sense that you're poking fun at common behaviours by using a charming visual.

DIANE: Lastly, what’s the first thing you do when you’ve hit a creative slump? 

JEAN: It depends where I am. Preferably I go for a swim but since I live in a city, I bang my head on the desk!


Follow @jean_jullen on Instagram

Diane Abapo Founder and Editor-in-Chief at SUSPEND Magazine.