Jean Jullien’s “Peace for Paris”: A viral image of solidarity and unity with the people of Paris and the world

By on November 15, 2015

We’ve been fans of French graphic designer and illustrator Jean Jullien for awhile now and you may already know that his his hand-painted monochromatic image combining a Sixties-era peace symbol with the Eiffel Tower — his quick response to the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday — has gone viral over the past three days.

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A man wears a shirt with a sign combining a peace symbol with the Eiffel tower near the French embassy in Berlin on November 14, 2015. Photo by Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Jullien — based in London, although he is actually French, from Nantes, located 264 miles west-southwest of Paris by the Angers and Le Mans Railway — is already quite well known for his humorous illustrations, which often have a satirical edge to them, making fun of all aspects of our society (the Kardashians and Kanye West are frequent targets) and especially about our relationship with technology, in particular, mobile devices.

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As you can see from some of his images and designs, however, he doesn’t shy away from edgier political topics. In fact, he’s probably best known outside the art and illustration world for his “Je Suis Charlie” illustration, showing a pencil being stuck into the barrel of a rifle, which was a commentary he made during the aftermath of the shootings at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris this past January.

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Jullien’s newest symbol, with the caption “Peace for Paris,” showing solidarity and unity with the people of Paris, posted to his Instagram account, has (as of this writing) been liked more than 154,000 times, and shared so frequently via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media over the past two days that it’s probably impossible to know how many people in the world have actually seen it.

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One of the more interesting aspects to the story, however, was that “Peace for Paris” was mistaken for a work done by Night Flight fave Banksy, according to this article in the Telegraph UK, “due to the fact that a fakefan account @therealbanksy shared Jullien’s image, with the same caption – leading thousands of followers to frantically retweet the photo and wrongly attribute it to the Bristol street artist.”

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Here’s an excerpt from the recent interview he did for a Wired feature on Jullien, posted yesterday (11/14):

It’s obviously too early to tell, but based on the reach and impact it’s had already, I’d wager that “Peace for Paris” is well on its way to becoming one of the early 21st Century’s most iconic images. I know that makes you uncomfortable to think about, given the violence and hatred that precipitated it. But that’s exactly what makes this symbol so potent: It’s a sign of peace, support, and optimism that stands in direct opposition to a vile act of terror.

That’s exactly it. You’re right. It came from a place of hope. A positive place. And if that’s how it goes down, and how it is remembered, I’m fine with that.

I know you have to run, but is there anything else you’d like to say about the piece or how it’s been received?

Some people have asked me how I felt about it being celebrated, and I just think it’s not about that. It’s about people sharing it. It’s like giving birth to something and watching it develop a life of its own. You just have to learn to let go and see what it becomes. It’s quite a strange feeling. I’m just pleased that it’s found a use for everyone, regardless of their nationality or where they are in the world, in Paris or not.

Be sure to check out that short film, A Little Film About… Jean Jullien, that we’ve posted above.

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Here’s a feature on his work from the German art and design website/blog Ignant.

Have a look at some of our favorite illustrations by Jean Jullien:

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