In the studio
James Jean
TAIPEI, TAIWAN

Initially, James Jean started doing illustrations in order to survive in New York. By now it is certain that his legacy will outlive him.

If boundaries and intersections still exist, then Jean’s work sits from the very beginning somewhere between them. Since scoring his first cover for DC Comics after graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2001, his commercial work has been reproduced in architectural dimensions for clients like Prada, has played a role in ESPN and as cover art for Atlantic Records.

In his fine art practice, large canvas panels invite the viewer into a different world of both fantasy and truth. Walking through one of Jean’s solo shows in Tokyo, New York or Los Angeles, viewers are immersed in hues of pastels which tell elaborate stories.

Reminiscent of the grand genre of the 19th Century, history painting, Jean’s work puts narration back into relevance. Historically, the genre was used to depict important events like battles or scenes of historical, religious or mythical matter. The direct telling of a story on canvas was well esteemed, a challenging task considered to educate the public on lofty ideals.

For the Taiwanese-American artist, inspiration comes in form of dreams and nightmares but also in the lucid moments of walking through life something may reveal itself and stick to the mind to be transformed into something else and transformed on canvas.

Unlike other more reserved artists, Jean is vocal about his work and process. He shares sketches and drawings from his notebook online and gently encourages students and young artists in countless speaking arrangements and interviews to stick to their own practice. According to him, the making of art is a continuous process which needs to be trained daily.

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