Of all the hot commercial "lowbrow" artists today I strongly suspect James Jean would have the fastest growing following. And going by his super extensive portfolio you'd wonder if he's not the hardest working. Regardless, his growing popularity and stature as the illustrator of looking through the groovy darkly is well established.
Originally from Taiwan James Jean graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2001 at the age of 23 and it didn't take him long at all to become a regular cover artist for DC Comics, particularly the Vertigo line, particularly for the comics Fables and Umbrella Academy. And from there it didn't take him long at all to start garnering awards and a wider notoriety.
Having accepted commissions from the likes of Rolling Stone, Atlantic Records and Nike James Jean's biggest step into the world of commercial art and design has most likely been his extensive work in 2008 for the fashion label Prada. He developed a complex but unique look that they've very much taken to heart for their signature range. James Jeans' work is also featured in stunning ad campaigns, billboards and shop layouts themselves. And it all seems to culminate in this beautiful animated short that stands entirely alone as a work to appreciate seperate to its marketing purposes, which of course is quite clever branding from a marketing perspective.
The most remarkable thing about his commercial success is also the very reason for it. And that is his exotic style and technique. Cause though he has used classic interpretations and explored the images of mythology and fairytale his personal interpretation has developed into something incredibly refreshing for the commercial world. And his prolific and fast working ability must make him a boon.
Thanks to his ever-growing popularity his work is being compiled and published. Sadly, his portfolios Process Recess 1 & 2 are no longer available. The Hallowed Seam (PR 3) just came out but is quite different to his earlier portfolios, instead being a collection of studies and such that appear to come from his sketch pad or moleskine. More like his earlier portfolios is Kindling: 12 Removable Prints.
Very cute is his postcard book XOXO: Hugs and Kisses. But my favourite publication would have to be Fables Covers: The Art of James Jean Vol. 1. Not just it is the best collection of his art, even when restricted to covers he did for the Vertigo comic series, but that each work is shown in various stages along with commentary on the process.
James Jean. And even though he has stopped doing the Fables covers I think we'll see more of his haunting mythologies and landscapes of the quixotic. And his following will only continue to grow.