Nine months have passed since we last heard from Julien Gobled and, during this period, he’s been figuring out what drawing means to him in 2020. Previously, the designer was in the process of releasing his book Maison Phoenix with Editions FP&CF: “It’s done,” he says of the 80-page publication based on a series of drawings created in 2018. Still available and soon to be distributed in the USA, there’s plenty more that he’s been lending his hands towards alongside. This includes two posters, Prototype_01 and Prototype_02, both published by Editions Biceps and are the starting point to the series Proto.
But, it doesn’t stop there. He’s also recently participated in a group exhibition in Berlin titled Drawing Wow – running until the end of this month – and there’s been a few ongoing projects in the works that have unfortunately been cancelled due to the pandemic, “like everyone else, I guess”. And, he’s also stopped working with Delphine Boeschiln “for some reason” and has been taking on work on his own accord.
The most notable difference, however, is that Julien’s work has transgressed into more digital territory. “My work has evolved quite a bit,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Like what we talked about last time, I’m not very attached to an aesthetic but it’s certain that my work has taken a new direction.” Of course, his simplistic illustrative design work has always dabbled accordingly in the digital sector, yet this time around it’s much more “assumed” and firmly rooted in these elements. “It’s back and forth between several softwares, but I think that it’s more in my head; I allow myself to achieve more things,” he explains of his newly turned process.
As for his specific methodology, though, it tends to vary depending on the series at hand. “But generally speaking, I work more and more from the photo or image that I find on the internet, it gives me a material, a starting point to make something completely different in the end.” In this sense, Julien uses his able eye to pull from a variety of sources and to make something completely original. “This is really the big change in my practice,” he adds, noting that beforehand he used to commence his work on a blank page and seek to fill the space free from constraints. “Now, it comes closer to sculpture.”
An example of this different approach to working can be seen in his most recent projects. Keeping several different series going at the same time, soon enough Julien decided to group this separate entities into Proto – a 24-page zine commenced during the beginning of lockdown. “These are very constructed series based on different protocols,” he says, whereby ‘proto’ is an extraction of ‘protocol’ and ‘prototype’ – it’s also the name of nitrous oxide. “I think that at some point during the confinement there was a rupture, it seems to me that it is a general feeling. I could just not continue to work in this way, it did not make any sense anymore. It was kind of an outlet in the emergency room.” Describing this grouped series as being somewhat messy, it’s also a grouping that he’s particularly fond of. “Freewheeling experiments” is another coined phrase Julien uses as a label for this work, apt in its description due to the fact that he worked without any preconceived ideas of concept. “It joins a recent reflection on my work which has always been and which is always serial: can we make a series without having an aesthetic link between the images?”
Upon pondering this question, Julien’s answer is to keep drawing. Without purpose nor sole intention, this would allow him the freedom to experiment and to simply have fun with the process – “just waiting for the moment when it took an unexpected turn.” Even just a short while ago, Julien was rather attached to finding these protocols that can be generated through a common aesthetic, but now he’s not so keen on that ethos. “The most important thing is to find the time to stop, it’s more subjective.” The result of which is a conflicting set of images that, in comparison to his last portfolio of works, depict an array of empirically created artworks. “I don’t really have a favourite image, and I am often not very object about them,” Julien responds to whether or not he has a recent favourite. “But if I have to designate one, I would say this image [pictured below] because it is the opposite of what I usually do. It looks like a painting, but not really, you can see up close that it’s a digital image; it’s a bit like a digital painting…”
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.