Hailing from a little village close to Bordeaux, Jul Quanouai spent his childhood engrossed in French and Belgian comics before heading to Paris to study graphic design. It was during his engraving classes that he developed a taste for the black lines and scratchy textures, stylistic attributes that can now be stretching across his illustrations. Then, after being introduced to 1970’s and ‘80’s American comic artists such as Charles Burns, Jul’s imagination ran wild.
Now based in Toulouse, Jul and his illustrator partner Junie surround themselves with creatives across the realms of installations and graphics. But in the typical stereotype of an illustrator, he says: “I’m such a loner sometimes, I’m always dreaming alone more than meeting people and living a real life in the city."
After experimenting with a number of mark-making styles, Jul ended up settling on two which are opposite from one another. One style is monochrome, clean and scratchy, while the other is multi-coloured, smudgy and bleeding. Reminiscent of childhood materials, you could imagine that half his drawings used an etch-a-sketch, while the other half used jumbo felt-tip pens.
On his colourful illustrations, Jul says: “I don’t consider myself a painter, instead it’s a form of self discovery, a research process based on what effects I want to achieve”. The works in question are actually as small as four cm wide, and made using kids watercolour pencils that Jul came across whilst teaching kids. His black and white works on the other hand are done with more calculated precision. working with a Rotring and ruler, “first i do a pencil sketch and then ink on the same paper,” explains the illustrator. "I like to draw everything together so I spend as little time as possible on the computer,” he tells us.
Despite his differing techniques and styles, when we ask Jul to sum up his practice in one sentence he says: “I make drawings about my fears, movement and things that I love or that matter. I want to evoke strong feelings in the reader.” Next up for Jul will be various zines that he’s publishing with independent print houses such as Colorama, Housebooks and Raum, and he’ll also be pushing for some collaborations with musicians.