People often take Jean Jullien for a technophobe. He insistshes not, but the illustrator has in recent years filled his Instagram feed with drawings that (gently) mock humanity and its dependence on technology. Consider a post from last year: A brushstroke of a man sits beforea computer. Live scenes of the outdoors, shot taken from a moving train, fill the screen. Travelling by proxy, reads thecaption. Inanother post, a man clad in luau attire bathes in the beam of blue light cast by his phone.
I get described as a harsh critic, Jullien says. There is a critic in me, but its not harsh. You have to reflect on things that affect your life. Thats exactly what Jullien does in his Instagram feed and inModern Life. The collection of illustrations, from teNeues Publishing, brimswith observations that the designer turns into cartoonish drawings. If theres a meta-narrative, it has something to do with the inescapable silliness that comes with being human. Im trying to find a therapeutic humoristic way to grasp the things that make me tick on a daily basis, hesays.
Like dirty laundry. One illustration in Modern Life ($27) showsa man wearing onlybriefs, rifling through a hamper of dirty clothes on a Friday morning. Thats actually the laundry basket we have at home, so it couldnt be more real than that, Jullien says. Often, hes poking fun at himself along with everyone else. Thats especially true when Jullien draws someone holding a gadget, oblivious to the world around him. One image in particular captures this succinctly: a man leaningagainst an iconic London telephone booth, starting intently at his phone. Such booths, once essential, are now meredcor, Jullien says.
That’s not to say Jullien condemns modern technology. Like most designers, he test drives his work on Instagram to see if it resonates. Indeed, Instagram allowed him to quickly share his Peace for Paris symbol after terrorists struck city in November, 2015. The hand-drawn symbol quickly went viral, becoming the go-to icon at the time for showing solidarity with Paris and its victims.
As for the drawings inModern Life, any mockery isplayful. Thats partly inevitable, given the lanky physiques and Pinocchio noses of Julliens characters. But its also because whatever Julliens charactersare doing, youve probably done it, too. Jullien definitely has. Most of the time Im the butt of the joke,” he says.