ART, Inspirations

{Spotlight} James Jean is a cover-art god

I am recently new to the whole graphic novel scene and was fortunate enough to begin with this little series called Fables by Bill Willingham. I just finished the first book and I must say, aside from the hilarious barbs and the concept of the series in general, I spent quite a bit of time ogling the drawings.

Specifically, James Jean‘s drawings.

© James Jean

A year ago or so, James Jean came to Manila and gave a talk about the magic he works on paper. I did not go to said event since those were the heydays of my childish stupor, wherein I was wrapped around my petty little world. To put it simply, I had no idea who this guy was, and while we’re on the subject, I don’t actually know many artists at all. It’s the sort of thing that makes me ashamed to even call myself an “artist”, but thanks to the Internet, I can rectify that sooner rather than later.

I know there is an influx of vector artists these days, and though I want to learn how to make vector art, I have never thought of it as the style that would define me. I am more attuned to works that have a traditional approach and base, using more traditional tools like pencils and pens, watercolours or copics. When I use computer programs to colour my works, I like them to look like they could have been done by my own hands; full of purposeful brush strokes, artful paint blots, and seemingly stray pen marks– imperfections that add to the perfection of the big picture.

© James Jean

What drew me to James Jean’s style is that it’s very similar to my own ideal style, except of course his works are what I can only hope to accomplish every time I start a sketch. (For now.) He combines realism and surrealism in a way that affects such wonder to any viewer of his art. Although my concepts are not so dream-like and romantic as his works, there are some elements that I find very attractive to emulate to a certain degree.

There are some pieces which have so much emotion, I can’t help but simply stare at it and try to take it all in: the pain, the sadness. It leaves me with a desire to reach in and tell the characters in the drawings: ‘Everything will be okay.’

© James Jean

His usage of colours evokes a certain hypnotically eerie feel to his works that draw you in, whether it be a single colour in different shades…

© James Jean

…Or one with innumerable shades of colour.

© James Jean

And for someone like myself who loves doing art but has not picked up a pen in ages, having someone like James Jean as a source of inspiration can only be good medicine.