Surrealism, Bjork and alcohol felts collide in Jimy De Haese’s dreamy illustrations

The Strasbourg-based illustrator thinks back to an unsettling recurring dream he had as a child to inform his illusory illustrations.

9 January 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

If Dalí collided with cartoonist Simon Hanselmann, then dripped through a funnel of Bjork-esque magic, the work of Strasbourg-based artist Jimy De Haese would arise from the resultantly rich, velveteen folds. Directly birthed from the surrealist greats (just a couple of generations later and with a handful of contemporary references thrown in), the French artist, much like the avant-garde movement he draws inspiration from, looks to his dreams as a starting point in his practice.

“My dreams tend to depict a recurring dream I had as a child,” the illustrator tells It’s Nice That. “I was lying like a stranded whale in a sand quarry and the environment around me was gradually burying me.” Despite the dark connotations, Jimy never thought of the dream as a nightmare, remarking that “the moving forms that engulfed me seemed quite nice, and, strangely enough, not oppressive at all.” Whatever Freudian implications may be deduced from this otherworldly dream scenario, for Jimy, the lasting impact of the dream is evident through his work, which continues to inform the subject and compositions of his paintings to this day.

In his marbled illustrations, usually drawn with alcohol felts, Jimy blends human figures with the liquid settings. Warping foreground and background, the subjects and the environments in Jimy’s paintings become a single flowing entity. Extending from fingers or toes, he elongates lines of the composition to merge with other pictorial elements in a seamless illustrative glide.


Jimy de Haese: Drops

Unexpectedly, Jimy’s first introduction to art was through music, more namely, through vinyl covers. Having grown up bathed in the aesthetics of music as a child, Jimy recalls his first fascinations: the covers of Iron Maiden’s records. “But I think it was when I saw Sonic Youth’s famed cover Goo when I knew I wanted to do illustration and music,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I learned to compose music while drawing all the time,” Jimy continues, and in turn, using dreaming as a vehicle for idea generation.

After graduating from the Fine Arts School of Espinal where he predominantly worked on comics, Jimy went on to study at the Haute école des arts du Rhin in Strasbourg, where he turned his focus to illustration and music. Since then, the intersection of the two creative disciplines has played a significant role in Jimy’s practice. Not only does his work possess a lyrical quality in its framework, but he also looks to the musical atmosphere of a song to inform his artworks. Then, working in his signature felt tip, he’s engineered a technique involving the repeated application of several layers.

“With this technique,” explains Jimy, “I can overcome a complex of not being able to be a painter (as I lack the patience, room and technique).” First, he applies a layer of felt in a light tone. Then, he gradually applies darker tones, increasing the sense of depth and shadows to the composition. Using this method, Jimy has created work for the likes of Kiblind as well as visuals for his own band, Singe. “Many of my friends thought it was a painting,” he says of his commission for the well-known illustration publication. He finally goes on to say on the matter, “and it flattered the failed and repressed painter inside me.”

GalleryJimy de Haese


Chahut Capie




Pochette, Singe





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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.

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