Artist Series: Julian Vinet

Julien Vinet lives and works in Valletta, he is a cartoonist, graphic designer, and painter. Raised in France, then 7 years in Japan, Julien’s past experiences are quite unaccustomed to the Maltese way of life. Still, interviewing an artist is always unpredictable, you are not to know what state of mind they will be in. I managed to speak to Julien, whilst he occupied something approaching a near perfect state of mind.

As soon as I arrived at his apartment I realised two things. The first that he was a modest man and second that he truly had great light for painting in his studio. Light is one of those things Julien gets particular about, without good light his art is affected, he spent over three months hunting this place down and it is easy to see why. Light floods through the whole apartment and his studio, whilst small, is washed up and illuminated by the suns glow. He is pleased about this for obvious reasons.

Oil Pastel

Julien showed me his roof terrace. A grand view of the harbour and the three cities. Having such a beautiful landscape usually prompts people to paint and draw it but noticeably Vinet hasn’t. I asked him why he wouldn’t paint such a scene, he shrugged of the idea as if it weren’t worth a moments thought and he told me that a painting is no replacement for the real thing. At any rate, it was decided that the interview should take place on his terrace. The interview focused on Vinet’s experiences, how his style has been shaped and how does he now respond to the social situations that are around him.

After the interview a few things began to happen, we went to a painting exhibition by a local artist, it was a collection of photo-real landscapes of Malta. I imagine that many contemporary artists would feel the same, he was distraught and dismayed. I didn’t need to ask why, whilst the painter we saw was clearly very talented, he was very much the equivalent of a Japanese craftsman for Vinet. His statement that the Japanese don’t have artists, they only have craftsmen, had a parallel running in Malta.

Having worked with narrative and figurative work himself that exhibition was no enigma to him, he knew exactly what it was that he was looking at and he didn’t like it. Perhaps this is expressed in his own work that has began to turn towards the abstract. Vinet talks about the, “few who have the ability to do it”, and he means those who can touch people’s souls with their art. “The only point [of art] is to touch people.” This is said in reference almost exclusively to abstract and expressionist painters, but I feel that in spite of the theme of our conversation, he has much broader appreciation. This leads him further, artwork that inspires feeling is the most effective, to “work without meaning” to create emotion or empathy, this what he works for. He has great admiration for painters who strove to such ends.

Vinet’s opinion on Malta’s art scene is mixed, I can tell this from the mixed arguments that he poses in criticism and then in defence of it. Such a stance is not new though, I have seen a number of people here with the same mixed view. Some things are great here, other things are just bad. Still, Vinet has aspirations to change the way that things are done, he has ideas and believes in the greater ability of the Maltese people to capacitate for such a change.

Vinet has been living in Malta for one and a half years and is typically exhibiting abroad due to the higher interest and appreciation that he gets. It is likely that an exhibition will take place in Malta but competition for his work from mainland Europe will limit the chances of a solo exhibition taking place soon. Still, we must see what the future will bring.

Hengist: Where did we get to?

It has been a while since I last began to work on a Hengist book cover. The reason being of course that there has been no time to do this but I feel as though very soon I will have one of these books in hands, raw, and in need of some visual jazz to make it ripe for the coffee table, the bedside table, or gripped in hands of a reader.

Before I get back to it though I wanted to put up the past works together and chronologically. This is a laying out of the past works, the linear progression of each cover and each poster provides a look into the development of the artist as he computes the intentions of the author, what image does the story have?

Call me neurotic if you will, although of course there is always an unspoken ulterior motive for anything one does.

Blaise (click here for the Blaise White Horse Logo)

Archer Cover
Archer Cover: This book cover used images sourced entirely by the author and was laid out in a style that was felt to be a book series style.
Archer promotional poster (black)
Archer promotional poster (black): Creating a dramatic event feel in anticipation of the Launch event.
Archer promotional poster (green)
Archer promotional poster (green): Using images from the book cover.
Rory green book-cover
Rory green book-cover: As a rule the green covers were supposed to be composed to appeal to a middle aged audience of a particular taste. This meant using colours and images that would appeal to a naturalists sensibilities. What I mean is that the cover is to use colours and pictures that are typically reassuring and peaceful. The overall affect of the layout is to have a sense of order and calm.
Rory Cover White
Rory Cover White: The target demographic for this cover are young teenagers and older children. The white book covers are appealing to this demographic because they are more attune to the conceptualised graphics and the contrast between colour fields and objects. The layout is ordered as with the Green cover with the same title. However there is some overlapping of images and layers that makes the images appear more chaotic and exciting. The designated spaces for text and images gives a clearer more contemporary feel to this book cover.
RORY promotional poster
RORY promotional poster: The theme was taken from the white book cover series and is intended to appeal to a younger audience of teenagers and older children. The poster is laid out to be bottom heavy, descending from a point to a spread base, where the launch date was centrally positioned (not in this image). The central image was a composite of images and drawings laid out in a parody of the 007 poster for the film "Live and Let Die". The characters are titled as playing cards and are representative of characters from the "Rory" novel.

Reagan Green Cover (Click here for the Reagan Green Cover image)

Reagan white cover
Reagan white cover: Using the template for the Rory white book cover, this book uses the character cards as a way of introducing the books characters in a light and friendly way. The use of white and black spaces divides the cover up subjectively and creates clear areas for the images and text. The purple lines spn the whole cover and bind front and back content. This work takes from the Rory series the idea of using a conceptual style to draw focus intensely to the key parts of the cover: Image and text.