Radio Juxtapoz ep 046: James Jean on the Otherworldly Power of Imagination and Reinvention
If there was ever a Juxtapoz Hall of Fame, James Jean would be a first ballot inductee. Everything this magazine has stood for, whether it be reinventing the comic book form, learning the expertise of illustration, commercial design and projects to channeling all those skills and benchmarks into a fine art career, James Jean has carried the torch like few other artists of his time. He's massively popular, with museum shows now opening across Asia, famous clients and a one-of-a-kind ability to paint entire worlds onto a single canvas. His imagination and way of internalizing stories and narratives into lush, bright and bold paintings continues to marvel.
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Yes, it’s hard to stop singing our praises for this 3x cover artist, especially because the Taiwanese-born, New Jersey-raised and now Los Angeles-based painter has such a captivating art bio. From award-winning comic book artist, to a career altering collaboration with Prada, to his latest Eternal Journey exhibition at the Lotte Museum of Art in Seoul, Korea that opened in 2019, Jean has rewritten his own artistic path in multiple ways since he left the comic world 2006, still finding time to occasionally throw a movie poster into the mix.
Radio Juxtapoz caught up with James Jean in the midst of a pandemic and slight change of schedule. Eternal Journey's opening in Beijing was pushed back, a new book slated for the summer delayed, as well. But Jean was still busy in the studio, energized by new commissions and what he calls a good pause that frees focus on the new works. In this wide-ranging conversation, we talk about his first forays into comic book covers, the bold move to leave it behind, advice from Takashi Murakami, and how his practice is a process of internalizing everything he sees (and hears.)
The Radio Juxtapoz podcast is hosted by FIFTH WALL TV's Doug Gillen and Juxtapoz editor, Evan Pricco. Episode 046 was recorded via Skype from San Francisco/London/Los Angeles, May 22, 2020. Follow James Jean at @jamesjeanart