Like many designer-illustrators, Julien Gobled has always been fascinated by drawing. Derived from a creative upbringing where he was surrounded by an artistic family, Julien fulfilled his passion and later went on to study a five-year course during art school in Le Havre, France. Surprisingly, he wasn’t trained in design and it was something that he learnt on the job. “I had the chance to meet a great graphic designer in England, Simon Aschcroft, who trained me for a year and little by little it became an obsession,” Julien tells It’s Nice That. “I got a little lost in graphics for a while, and for two or three years I went back to drawing; I feel like I have better control in this field, like it’s a playground in which I know where I am.”
Combining a simple drawing aesthetic with carefully considered compositions, Julien creates work that’s fantastically explorative. Recently, designer Braulio Amado reached out to design a t-shirt for his gallery SSHH, based in New York. “It was really nice, I’m a big fan of his work,” says Julien – “It was really easy to work with him.” Additionally, he has lent his hands towards a new book published by Editions FP&CF, titled Maison Phoenix, which is currently at the printers and should be hitting the shelves within two or three weeks – a follow up from his first publication, Cumulus. “It’s a series of images that I worked on one year ago – the principle is quite simple, I started with the grid of Jan Tschichold (nine columns and nine lines), which was once used for book design,” explains Julien. “This give gives me a structure to draw and fill the space using curved and straight lines.” Both figurative and abstract, this method allows the designer to create a rhythmic and less representational form.
With so many skilful graphic designers and draftsmen out there, Julien finds it tricky to decipher his main points of reference. “It’s sometimes a bit scary and stimulating at the same time,” he admits. But after some consideration, there’s one thing for sure – Julien is drawn towards graphic designers and illustrators who “work with passion and are trying to push their limits”. In this sense, he’s talking about Karel Martens and the Werkplaats Typography School, as well as Jonathan Castro, who he met earlier this year – “his work is surprising,” says Julien. Elsewhere, the designer looks towards David Hockney for his detailed drawing systems and theories on 19th century painting.
So when putting pen to paper, Julien has found that, previously, he has worked a lot with clear lines as well as black and white. “It’s a way for me to concentrate on the rhythm of the drawing,” he says. “It’s almost musical and at the same time, when using black and white, one cannot cheat – there’s a form of radicalism that I am looking for.” Fighting minimalist constraints and functional rules laid out by the process of black and white drawing, Julien’s work has gravitated towards that which is more experimental. “I do not want to stay in my comfort zone,” he tells us. “I do not want to have a style and I’m very interested in finding new ways to draw.” Evident throughout his latest series La Painture, Julien finds great joy in this process, finding it of most importance to “be surprised” and to go along with what is less expected.
At present, Julien spends his time bouncing between a part-time job at a communication agency and as a designer for his own studio, Atelier Kiosque – founded with graphic designer Delphine Boeschlin. Yet the most distinguished balance is found within his illustration and design work, where he works harmoniously between the two, producing a collection of crafted illustrations formed through digital and analogue processes. “I love publishing,” he says, “as I think it’s a perfect medium to show the work – the pace of pages, paper, the size of the book, these are the issues that fascinate me.” Julien concludes: “I would love to try to do exhibitions, but it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to me. I think it’s time to confront that.”
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