“Tell you the truth, I’d never heard of you until you did the Prada bag,” I heard myself telling James Jean over dinner last Thursday.
“Uh hmmm,” James nodded as though he may have heard it before—from a girl. Mostly known for his comic book covers, I would imagine that 90% of his fan base are male.
I told him I wasn’t a big fan of Prada either until the bags came out. Do you remember this bag? My dad gave it to me for Mother’s Day in 2008.
I had seen the bag in Singapore but it was not for sale—by order only. I thought I would never get the bag. But in May 2008, there it was at the window of the Prada store in Greenbelt 4. Luckily my dad was there and bought it for me.
Last Thursday I was sitting next to the artist who did the artwork for Prada.
Born in 1979 in Taiwan, James Jean was only three years old when his father received an opportunity to work in a prestigious firm in the U.S. where he is based, having lived in New Jersey, New York and currently Los Angeles.
“I’ve always drawn,” he narrated. “My parents would bring home reams and reams of computer paper and I would draw endlessly.”
He just never stopped. In 2001 he started drawing covers for DC Comics, which won him seven Eisner awards, three consecutive Harvey awards, two gold medals and a silver from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, and a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators of New York, says Wiki.
He has worked in advertising, contributed to numerous publications, and counts among his clients: Time magazine, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, ESPN, Playboy, Knopf, Atlantic Records, and Target, among others.
In 2007, he was asked to create a mural for the Prada Epicenter stores in New York and Los Angeles.
James said Mrs. Prada gave him some keywords to work with: romantic, historical, sci-fi, surreal, non-linear.
“Prada was a dream client,” said James, who was also asked to create a storyboard and short film based on the mural.
A second mural was created, printed on fabric and leather bags, and used as a backdrop for this famous photo shoot starring model Sasha Pivarova.
Of course he was invited to see the runway show in Milan. Remember this?
In 2008, he decided to retire from commercial projects to focus on painting, results of which are seen in Rebus, his new book that showcases new works as well as important creative milestones in his career.
James signs my books
James Jean was in Manila as a guest of Fully Booked which brought him to talks at Ateneo University and College of Saint Benilde, a guesting at ANC Mornings, and book signings at Fully Booked Katipunan and The Fort.
(To be continued)
To know more about the artist, go to http://www.jamesjean.com/.