“I simply like to draw women. I try not to be too manly, I want my work to speak to the girls more than to the males. I have no type, all shapes are beautiful and are a playful inspiration to create and show the beauty of women.”
En route to HVW8 Art + Design Gallery in Berlin, I was chewing over the years I spent listening to Ed Banger releases. Admittedly, I definitely had a higher level of familiarity with So Me – Jean André’s predecessor as art director at Ed Banger – before speaking with Jean himself that is, who was hosting an exhibition in the intimate gallery setting in the city’s Mitte district. You may expect to receive virtually zero facetime in circumstances like these, given the way that PR people, writers, photographers, fans, and myself, will be pooling around an artist, however, Jean obliged conversations effortlessly, entertaining all those to take an interest in the visual offerings that night. So Me was practically synonymous with Ed Banger at a certain time and presumably following up on his role would entail certain challenges. Jean André seems to have strode confidently into his new position, while bringing a singular and unique approach that would not presently indicate a total overhaul of the French record label’s artistic aesthetic.
Check above in the slideshow for a custom illustration done for Highsnobiety by Jean André.
What’s up Jean? How was Art Basel Miami?
Art Basel was great! Constructing a full exhibition in 4 days in a new city is always a big challenge to me. I had to deal with the furniture we brought, the supplies which didn’t show up because of shipping from Los Angeles, the display of the adidas x HVW8 shoes that I worked on with Kevin Lyons etc… It’s super motivating.
Would you describe yourself as a sneakerhead? What is your relationship with streetwear?
I think I have like 5 pairs of shoes. I’m not a super fashionista, I do not collect sneakers or any apparel, and I don’t go to fashion week. I wear what fits me, that’s pretty much all I care about fashion. Actually, I have a cool collection of white Apparel T-shirts and Zara pants.
You often work with Kevin Lyons, what is his role in your life?
Kevin is a friend and a great advisor, kind of a brother/mentor. He has a great deal of experience in this crazy art/exhibitions/collaboration game.
What about HVW8 Gallery?
That’s all about Tyler Gibney. He is a great guy, he believes in me and was the first man to suggest that I travel to show my drawings. HVW8 has some great artists that I have followed for years, so I feel great to be part of a cool move like this.
You have also collaborated with fellow Parisians Poyz&Pirlz, how did you meet?
I met Dabaaz and Pol from Poyz&Pirlz in 2010 through another brand I used to work with and we instantly became friends. The collaboration was inevitable, I love them and I hope we have the opportunity to create more stuff together.
With Ed Banger producing exclusively electronic music, do you see electro that as the future of music? Is Ed Banger just a regular job for you, or something special? How were you first introduced to Pedro & So-Me?
Pedro was the crush of my adult life. We became fast friends I guess we share the same values of good work and entertainment. Plus, he is the nicest man on earth and I’m proud to be a part of this adventure. I was introduced to SO-ME later, I’m a big fan. To me, he exemplifies what it is to have a coherent career, and I like the way he runs it. Electro music and mostly techno music are strangers to me. I came from rap, that’s what I listen to, but I’m a graphic designer and I can easily discover new types of music, enjoy them and create work surround them. My favorite is Boston Bun.
You illustrated your own interpretation of the Kim Kardashian PAPER magazine cover? Was that a big cultural moment or insignificant?
That was a great moment for me because I love Jean-Paul Goude and I like the magic that happened when pop culture (Kim) meets art (Jean-Paul Goude) and produces a massive amount of engagement on the internet. Jean-Paul deserves to have more exposure and he came back in the net game by the big door.
How does humour play into your work? Do humorous statements get taken too seriously? Or the opposite?
I think humor or feelings of love are super stimulating, because it’s all about happiness. I’m not an angry boy and I try to spread good emotions. People take it this way I hope, we need that.
Maybe a girl’s mouth while having an orgasm could be a great drawing, because you can only guess what is happening but nothing is showed.
Would you call yourself mischievous?
Yes! I try not to be boring.
How do you view tattoos as inspiration? Are tattoo artists “catching up” to other painters and illustrators, who are seen as more traditional? What is your favorite tattoo that you have?
Classic tattoos have a powerful meaning. It’s about death, girls, faith, love etc… and it’s about ink. Basically it’s another medium expressed in code, not so different from the code I use everyday, so it’s a great inspiration. My favorite tattoo might be the “I N T E R N E T” tribute I tattooed on my fingers.
There are many sexual themes in your work, obviously this is a male perspective but talk about why you feature this theme so often?
I simply like to draw women. I try not to be too manly, I want my work to speak to the girls more than to the males. I have no type, all shapes are beautiful and are a playful inspiration to create and show the beauty of women.
What is the sexiest thing that an illustrator can depict? Is there even such a thing?
I actually don’t like porn because I feel bad for the actors, eroticism is about seduction and envy. The sexiest thing to me would be to draw a girl that I love. To catch a moment of pure happiness, sharing, desire, maybe a girl’s mouth while having an orgasm could be a great drawing, because you can only guess what is happening but nothing is showed.
Where have you never traveled that you would like to visit?
China or South America. China for the culture that I would like to experience, which was introduced to me by a great artist Yue Wu. South America mainly for the perfect way artists deal with creating art with only rudimentary supplies, the hand painters, sign painters, and, of course, the girls.
Describe your morning routine.
Wake up early, check mails, have a strong coffee, morning news, answering e-mails, then I make my to-do list of the day. It’s my favorite part of the day.
What sneakers did you wear the most in 2014?
Full, full, full black Nike Air Max 1.