When Jean Jullien published This Is Not A Book in 2016, it was hailed as one of the best books for children by the media, booksellers and librarians alike. Now the acclaimed French graphic artist is back with a second serving of playful and deceptive fun designed to challenge children to think creatively about objects in their daily lives.
Full of Jean's distinctive and bold illustrations and appropriately titled This Is Still Not A Book, it invites young readers to question what usually lies between two covers by transforming its pages into a foldable shirt, a flip phone, a mouth wide open, a game of tug-of-war and more. Each turn of the page and change of orientation brings new surprises.
Where do Jean's ideas come from? It's apparently a collaborative effort with the book's publisher, Phaidon, and its editorial team. "For this one, Maya and Meagan at Phaidon), Liz – my studio director – and I bounced a lot of ideas around and tried so many different things and ultimately only kept what really seemed to work. Simplicity was key as some things we tried were maybe more complex but we all agreed that keeping it simple would be the best way to keep the charm of the book," Jean tells Creative Boom.
Does he have any particular favourites? "The name tag of the shirt is the name of my son, Lou. And in the suitcase, I've included a sweatshirt that I've made for Lou, with the help of my friend Jae Huh in Korea," he says. "The elephant mask is one I'm super happy about because it stays simple but transforms the book into something completely different."
And does he have any tips on staying young at heart? "Keep playing! With toys, with things around you, with your kids or your friends. Playfulness is such an important part of life, it makes you challenge everything in a creative way."
Up next for Jean is an exhibition at the Albus Gallery in Seoul and he's currently working hard for a "big event" that will take place in Tokyo in May. It's turning out to be a busy 12 months for Jean.
"It's four different shows happening at the same time but in four different spaces," he says, "There's a painting show at Gallery Target, a sculpture and painting show at Parco Museum (that will introduce a story called Paper People and that will bring narrative depth to my 2D/3D explorations), a show with my brother Nico at 3110NZ and one last show at 2G where I'll be presenting a series of toys, a clothing line and my first graphic novel."