Profile Friday: James Jean

December 18, 2009

Links to James Jean’s stunning journals and artwork.

Above: Image from one of James Jean’s Moleskines, posted on his blog May 13, 2009, ©2009 James Jean.

Many of you might know James Jean’s  amazing journal work from Danny Gregory’s book on visual journals and sketchbooks, An Illustrated Life. But this talented and productive artist’s work can also be seen in galleries, on bookcovers, and on products everywhere. (When you are at James Jean's website be sure to click on SKETCH in the left column. This will reveal several sketchbooks that you can click your way through!)

Why am I attracted to his art? He draws with such precise grace it actually makes your eyes ache a little (in a good way). And his drawings are intelligent, speaking volumes. His drawings and paintings are filled with an energetic push that keeps the viewer thinking and looking. His journal sketches in particular have an intense energy and movement derived in part from the way in which he is constantly drawing over other images. He doesn’t redraw so much as draw another view right on top of something, often a face, so that the end result is a stop-motion of several views of the subject. There is a careless abandon to this approach—the comfort to draw over images other artists would give their right pinkie to draw. The sketches flow and emerge and just keep bubbling up with creative force. The viewer is rewarded anew with each viewing.

I had to write about him today because when I was at Big Brain Comics for my friend David Steinlicht’s book signing on Saturday, a book called out to me from a pile. There was a circular die cut on the cover which revealed an exquisite drawing of a hummingbird. I picked up the book and found it was a facsimile of James Jean's sketchbooks and journals. It is called The Hallowed Seam (Process Recess vol.3) from Adhouse Books. I didn’t realize, until I read his blog yesterday, that the version with the hummingbird is the first printing. The second printing has a small grasshopper drawing in the die cut area. There is also a limited edition of this book, with extra goodies.

If you love journal facsimilies, if you love sketchbooks, if you want to hold in your hands some inspiration from a creative mind that is busy pushing forward, you need to buy this book. Each line is a mini visual feast you can devour.

James Jean’s Process Recess site is another way to reach his blog and a shop where you can purchase his books, prints of his artwork, and products graced with his art.

I also encourage you to go over to James Jean's blog where you can scroll through posts on his journals, his gallery art, and his travels. Many of the posts show development of particular illustrations and paintings which will give you insight into how he works as an artist. I hope one day he does a book filled with just his process photos.

And wait, there’s more: head over to Polite Winter a website conversation between him and artist Kenichi Hoshine. As you click on “next” at the bottom of the window a new image appears. Initials at the side of the window toggle a highlight on and off to indicate which of the two artists created that piece of artwork. I wish more artists would involve themselves in dialogs like this.

If you haven’t already followed the above links and become lost in James Jean’s artwork, go do so now. Jean is one of those young artists who understands both traditional art media and the computer, composition and design, form and content. There's great stuff coming.

Note: I previously wrote about Jean on March 08, 2009, "Eye Candy for the Weekend," when I found his work featured in an issue of "American Artist Drawing."

  1. Reply

    Stunning work…I can’t wait to follow your links and see more – thanks for sharing!

    • Roz
    • December 18, 2009

    Angela, enjoy the savoring!

    • Roz
    • December 18, 2009

    Donna, I actually mentioned James Jean on Wednesday when writing about pens—people are really crazy to get them, I’m glad you found some as they are difficult to find. I’ll look forward to hearing how you like them!

    • kelly
    • December 18, 2009

    I LOVE James Jean’s work. I have all 3 Process Recess books and several of other books with his art in them.

    • Roz
    • December 18, 2009

    Kelly, you are fortunate indeed to have PR1 and PR2. Used on Amazon they are going for $300.00!

    Enjoy! Look at them everyday.

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