Illustrator Jean Jullien’s drawing origin story, as told by his parents

JEAN JULLIEN: Can you remember when I first started to draw?

SYLVIE JULLIEN: As far as I’m concerned, you’ve always drawn. You’ve been doing it ever since you were able to pick up a pencil. You didn’t “learn”

BRUNO JULLIEN: You drew all the time, even on tablecloths when we were out at restaurants. It was your way of expressing yourself, of describing the tiniest routine events. You did this in sketchbooks that you would carry around with you, the ones we would offer you regularly. It was a ritual.

JJ: Yes, you gave me my first sketchbook. When I was at school in Quimper (a city in northwest France), my teacher Jacques Vincent encouraged us to keep a journal. There wasn’t much in the way of rules; the idea was to get us to draw and draw and draw so that we developed a visual language. And what better way to do that than to look for inspiration in what is around you? I think that my practice of drawing every day and my interest in everyday life come from that exercise.

Jullien, Jean. Jean Jullien. New York: Phaidon Press Inc, 2022. (see page 35)

Having Jean Jullien’s parents share his drawing origin story is a wonderful approach. Our origin stories must look different to our parents, who if they were around, watched them manifest in real time.

The idea of keeping a drawing journal seems beneficial for developing your own visual language. Your own style.

Keep drawing.

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