June 19, 2009

About Nothing But Everything That Surrounds Us

An Interview with Motion and Graphic Designer (and more) Julien Vallée

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
click on any picture to enlarge it to original size

Julien, when you’re designing a relatively complex picture that utilises a series of images as part of the ‘total’, how do you decide, for example, where a picture should be placed or even when there’s perhaps too much ‘stuff’ being used that doesn’t really help with the overall image?
I think it’s a matter of composition. In so many cases, I could have just photo-shopped the overall, complex image – but I would have still had to show the exact same restraint. This ability to hold back sometimes is part of the set of skills you need to have as a graphic artist, and to me, it’s one of the most important.

Otherwise, you can find yourself looking at an image, feeling maybe like there is something wrong, but you can’t identify what. You just know it, you feel it – but you may no idea how to correct it because it’s too late.

I noticed that (a) on your website that you list yourself with some projects as ‘Art Director’ and that (b) obviously you’ve worked in some successful collaborations including with both Nicolas Burrows and Eve Duhamel. Are these perhaps ‘hints’ that you are looking to open your own design studio?
I’ve never really thought seriously about opening my own design studio. I have to say I like to manage my own time and also enjoy not having to worry about managing other people.

Still, there are times I believe it’s necessary to get external input to a project or even get external output provided. So I do feel collaborations are a good way to explore different avenues through the ideas and exchanges that take place between other creative colleagues and myself.

In terms of other designers being able to bring different skills to a project, I would have to say that when I collaborate with other designers, it’s not really a matter of ‘using’ the skills of this designer. Instead, it’s much more that process of putting together and combining our different visions in order to create something that is very often really different from what we might both normally come up with.

For me, it’s always interesting to see the merging of the ideas of two or more people who each have their own established aesthetic, and then trying to further merge these ideas in such a way that creates a good image. Sure, it does happen that I ask help from talented people on how to best get my ideas done; but usually I like to tackle the challenge head-on and work out a way that gets something done that might have seemed impossible at first sight!

The ‘Raking Leaves in the Wind’ exhibition ran from late October to late November, 2008 as part of ‘Create Berlin’, featuring Julien and fellow Canadians Eve Duhamel and Brent Wadden. The exhibition included the trios skills and talents using graphics, drawings, paintings, animation’s, paper installations and no doubt other cool stuff we’re leaving out.

More pictures are available at Julien’s site under ‘exhibitions’.

Describe if you could please a little more about your ‘love affair’ with paper?
I work with paper for primarily two reasons:

First, I think it’s a very neutral material. I like to use it in a way that allows me to communicate a message first, and then the audience notices that it’s made out of paper and perhaps then they want to take a closer look at it.

The other reason is simply that it’s available everywhere. And once you’re done with a set-up, you can recycle most of your piece!

Julien’s well-known 3D paper sculpture was created while he was living in Berlin for the main exhibition of Illustrative Zurich festival 2008. For more images (AGAIN, just click on these to see full-sized originals!!), see the ‘PAPER SCULPTURE’ or even ‘ILLUSTRATIVE ZURICH’ links (latter is below ‘exhibitions’).

You already have an impressive list of clients and have done some interesting works. Still, as you are a relatively young and new artist on the scene, how do you get your message out to potential customers?
Hm, if you’re talking about how do I get clients, I have to be honest and say I’m not doing so much of this for the moment. I do try keep my web-site as up-to-date as I can, and the blog community takes care of the rest.

Sure, I could have take a more, let’s say, corporate avenue. I could have made a very ‘clean’ and highly structured web-site that maybe some people would think looks a bit more professional; but the truth is, I never wanted to hide that I’m working as a young freelancer.

Still, I’ve been very fortunate that I have worked with some great clients for the past couple of years, and I hope that it will continue this way. What’s very important to me though is that I want to keep having fun no matter what size client I’m working for. I mean, I will normally put the same amount of time into a video for the New York Times Magazine as I do on a personal project like the short Globo Logos film.

Globo Logos from Julien Vallée on Vimeo.

The ‘Globo Logos’ video was created for the Earth Day 2008, which Julien also created as an ode to the work of Jacques Languirand. The videos were used for different festivals around the world, noting that Globo Logos aims to bring purity and dignity back to the ideation process by creating a space where ideas can live and evolve, independent of those who would use them for political or commercial ends. For more details and still images, please check out the appropriate link.
I see that you also recently completed a course under the tutelage of Stefan Sagmeister (who, by the way, when I interviewed him was EXTREMELY cool and very patient!). Why did you decide to participate in this and what was it like?
I think there’s not much to say about this... Stefan is one of the most talented designers of our time, and I would not have missed this chance for anything. I believe that most of the designers in the industry understand why!

In terms of being accepted for taking part in the course, there was a selection made by the design University of Laval in Quebec. We were judged by our portfolio and there were around 20 of us selected. So I was very fortunate!

See them here all at once by clicking on image

Or even here (again, images will enlarge upon clickage):

Julien took part in the exclusive workshop ‘Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far’ (see link of same name for more) directed by Stefan Sagmeister that took place in Percé, Gaspésie. The workshop consisted in part of a kind of ‘typographic exploration’. Julien’s collaboration with Karim Zariffa – also a fantastic and very talented motion and graphic designer – was based on the maxim ‘Do It Without Thinking of Critics’, in a similar style previously illustrated for some of Stefan’s past works, in this case again utilizing ‘everyday’ objects such as white cloth, paper and thread with the surrounding landscape acting as background to ‘spell out’ a given message.

I asked Stefan previously: ‘Do you see any trends either for your own work or the world around you?’ His answer was: ‘Everything that can be animated, will be animated. The still image will lose its importance.’ What is your opinion on his input here?
I think I agree, but I wish I didn’t!

Of course, technology is getting better and better all the time, and there is a lot of demand for moving image because you can put it everywhere. Even the papers will eventually integrate it in an affordable and practical way. It will be everywhere! For example, I’ve been asked by Nike to create a shoe with a chip in it that allows you to change and select the artwork on your sneakers! Still, I think there are some things that need to remain static, both in a conceptual and practical way.

Above and right: Julien’s cover art for the book ‘Tangible - High Touch Visuals’ from Die Gestalten Verlag (released January 2009), including detailed view. For more details, see here. (cover art photographer: Simon Duhamel, special thanks to Eve Duhamel and Matthias Hübner)

Can you explain more about your influences in terms of ‘art’ in general or even personally?
For me, art is everywhere. Even if it’s in the manufacture of a table, or it involves nice paint job on a car, or it’s from a guy who shapes trees, or even one of those ugly paintings you see in restaurants, this is still all part of ‘art’ for me. It’s these things that influences me.

However, I also believe that art was not made to just remain in the galleries. We are now in a time where we are experiencing more and more artists moving out of these specific, well-defined, ‘static’ spaces. And therefore, the chance to have these things all coming together and sometimes being presented in an unexpected place, this is very inspiring to me.

Sure, I could name lots of inspiring artists that I think are really good, but again for me, I think most of my inspiration comes from my surroundings, you know, the world around me. That’s why travelling to me is something very inspiring. And for me, this is because you are aware of things around you and you can see and appreciate the differences.

New York Times Magazine from Julien Vallée on Vimeo.

Video of commission from the New York Times Magazine. For more details including still images of the video and object-making processes, see link of same name.

How did you get involved in working for a while in Berlin? What was that like?
I was there twice before deciding to stay and establish myself there for some months. It was really kind of a love I had with the city that pushed me to go there. I can’t really explain it, it’s just a feeling I have when I’m there. It’s just so many things. But I really enjoy the architecture and I always like to go into strange places, you know, discover some clandestine clubs or improvised galleries.

Sure there are shitty parts, too, like the weather. Hey, at least this convinced me to escape to Barcelona for 3 weeks! And I’ve been back here in Montreal since March.

What’s next for Julien Vallée (next months, next years)?
Wow, again a hard one!

Well, my first attempt to work on some really personal stuff failed when I was in Berlin. I also have a sketchbook filled with experiments that I want to make, so we’ll see how that goes.

However, I definitely want to make more with ‘motion’, perhaps even maybe making a short film. We’ll see. Later this year in August and September, I’ll be travelling a bit to give some workshops and talks, so maybe after that it’ll be a good time to try some personal work again.

Above: Detailed view of the cover ‘Grafika - 2008 Quebec annual graphic design studios guide, 2008’, which also included an article featuring Julien’s work. (Photo of cover : La Workshop) For more to the process and additional still images, please see the short-cut titled ‘GRAFIKA - GUIDE DES STUDIOS '08’.


In addition to the various clients and exhibitions listed in the previous tome, Julien has worked for a wide range of exciting local and globally active clients, including Computer Arts UK, SWATCH, XLR8 magazine, YCN Online, ScreenWorld Films Los Angeles, Radio-Canada, Artv, Télé-Québec, and many more. 2008 was a particularly busy year, including the course with Stefan Sagmeister, and also Julien’s selection as one of the 50 winners of the ADC-YG6. Some of his work was even exhibited in New York at the ADC Gallery in September, see details here.

And we are pleased to say that he is also an artist with his very own PLETHORA of publications, awards and exhibitions. We won’t even try to list them all but instead draw your attention to the latest at his own web-site (under ‘PUBLICATIONS’). Even ‘Die Gestalten’ raves about his works, which have been featured not only in the mentioned ‘Tactile’ collections, but also ‘Fully Booked’ and ‘Lemon Poppy Seed’ as well. Yes sirree, it’s a full-fledged plethora, just count ‘em up ... and that’s not even including all his listed friends and compatriots (a lot of talent listed there, just try a few!).


All images including videos used by exclusive written permission of Julien Vallée. Any reproduction or other usage is forbidden without the expressed written consent of the artist, or artiste, as the case may be. We’ve probably also left out some of the credits in terms of photographers, so sorry for that, too, just in case.

1 comment:

khartik said...

nice julien, i like your works, keep up bro. :) glad to meet u.