Jean Jullien is a favorite with art directors of independent magazines the world over—his opinionated, energetic doodles make frequent appearances across the covers and feature pages of European publications. London’s Hato Press is also a favorite when it comes to UK indie publishing, with many titles choosing to work with the risographic experts. So the latest Hato release is something of a match made in heaven: Low Glow is a sprightly collection of doodles by the French illustration maestro, one that takes a playful yet sinister “journey into the dark recesses of the modern condition.”
Jullien’s 15 cartoons, rendered in his signature simple, expressive lines, boldly explore the reality of a life spent with neck bent resignedly over or in front of a glowing screen. I’d be surprised if anyone with an unhealthy reliance on Apple products and caffeine could help but empathize with these witty vignettes.
Art directors often describe Jullien not as someone they approach to give them what they want, but rather someone they hire because they want what he’s got to say. Left to his own devices, Jullien has proven himself capable of rendering his keen cultural insights in an approachable visual language; Low Glow is simply the latest example. His approach and reputation calls to mind Christoph Niemann, another talented illustrator with a strong, authorial voice.
It’s fascinating to see Jullien continue to tread two paths so expertly: his style is well-suited to both the indie world and editorial work in mainstream media, but his substance is political and observant. His self-initiated work (we love the doodles he shares on Instagram @jean—jullien) often pack enough punch to resonate globally, serving as symbols of a specific time and place. Case in point: the now-ubiquitous Peace for Paris sign he penned in November 2015. With Low Glow, Jullien lends his perspective on how an increasingly visual and digital world has not only affected the “modern condition,” but has, in fact, come to define it.