Julien Vallée, paper and universal creativity

By the time, design­ers of vari­ous spe­cial­iz­a­tions have reached the point of really good work­ing con­di­tions and tools for cre­at­ive work, it has become more and more com­mon to look back. It is all hap­pen­ing in search of cer­tainty and try­ing to get away at least for a short time from the over­whelm­ing digital media, eye-​tiring mon­it­ors and Photoshop lay­ers with spark­ling imagery. Not know­ing what ori­gami is had already become a sign of improper interest. That’s right – paper. One can rebel against it, but can­not avoid it – one will meet a sec­ret­ary in a bank, car­ry­ing a pile of invoices, someone will push a news­pa­per or a mean­ing­less bro­chure into one’s hands. Paper has a great poten­tial. It‘s pos­sible to cut one‘s fin­gers with it, to fold a tet­ra­hed­ron or even a human head from it, to con­vey vari­ous ideas by paper com­pos­i­tions without being called a child. Clearly, that is what Julien Vallée under­stood – this designer and art dir­ector from Montréal, Canada is fam­ous for mas­terly paper com­pos­i­tions and motion graphics.

Julien Vallée. “Tangible” book cover

Though paper is not the only mater­ial for his activ­it­ies. Julien uses vari­ous domestic tools, tex­ture and its com­bin­a­tions, which go through a cre­at­ive pro­cess and res­ult in posters, videos or book cov­ers. This can be called sculp­ture, just in a form less likely to stay and inten­ded for dif­fer­ent pur­poses. Nevertheless, com­puter is used in the end, is there a way to do without it? To describe the essence of Julien‘s works more accur­ately, the defin­i­tion of one of his earlier pieces is of use: a con­nec­tion between com­put­ing and handi­work pro­cesses in design. Since the begin­ning, he sought for the res­ult to be visu­ally aes­thet­ical, look­ing almost like com­pleted with com­puter vec­tors, but still hav­ing some­thing real inside, made of con­crete mater­ial, that can be sensed. These styl­istic can be eas­ily recog­nized in the major­ity of his works – shapes neatly cut out, loose, but not too dis­tor­ted hand­writ­ing, match­ing com­pos­i­tions and barely felt com­puter effects for the com­ple­tion. Usually Julien is helped by a friend pho­to­grapher Simon Duhamel, who turns the paper sculp­tures into works with more durability.

I Just think that being a graphic designer in the 21st cen­tury involves so much more than only work­ing behind a com­puter …and that’s great!“ — Julien Vallée.

Julien’s career star­ted dur­ing graphic design stud­ies at Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada, when he got a schol­ar­ship and went to prac­tice in Paris. There he worked with well-​known design­ers such as Stefan Sagmeister and suc­cess­fully gained more exper­i­ence. Eventually this young designer won sev­eral awards, such as ADC Young Guns 6 exhib­i­tion award from New York or Creative Review Award 2010. The num­ber of awards and pub­lic­a­tions in vari­ous magazines and books grew quickly, the con­sequences were the inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion and import­ant cus­tom­ers — from MTV to The New York Times. Also, he intens­ively exhib­ited his paper installations/​sculptures. I won‘t deny that Julien is worth it. Everything what he does stands out as pro­fes­sional, with clear ideas. Although a dose of youth­ful enthu­si­asm might be detec­ted too, which does not seem to coin­cide with too ser­i­ous cli­ents, a wish to appear young and fash­ion­able is present even in men in cos­tumes, whose faces are shaded by seriousness.

Next to pho­to­graphed paper com­pos­i­tions, Julien Vallée‘s motion graph­ics require par­tic­u­lar atten­tion. When sev­eral months ago I dis­covered a video, present­ing spon­sors of the fest­ival “OFFF“, cre­ated by this tal­en­ted guy, I couldn‘t take my eyes off it, it made me want to click ‘repeat’ until I get totally bored. The trans­form­a­tions of things and unusual effects are charm­ing with unex­pec­ted­ness – a small ball causes a cup­board to col­lapse or a bas­ket­ball, turn­ing into a water­melon. A dose of good spirit with no oblig­a­tions. When eval­u­at­ing this work in the con­text of the oth­ers, it‘s clear that Julien attempts to remain loyal to an idea to cre­ate in new fields with new means, in this way stim­u­lat­ing his own improvement.

Another video pro­ject — DanseDance reveals how import­ant, but often for­got­ten are every­day tools – with the help of key­board one is able to con­trol cer­tain objects and see how they over­flow or spin. What is left is to ima­gine these pro­cesses in reality.

Julien Vallée‘s works show design evol­u­tion. The kind of design that is now most strived for – diverse, pro­fes­sional, mer­ging dif­fer­ent medias together. It proves that prob­ably the future belongs to motion graph­ics. In fact, there have even been attempts to put it in sport shoes, whose owner could choose the images to be shown – that is what the order from Nike was like. Although this shouldn‘t seem to sur­prise any longer. No mat­ter how much digital life is invad­ing our routines, it is import­ant not to for­get the basics – manual work and paper, the ones you remem­ber from your child­hood, when you first tried to fold a paper plane. Paper is inspiring!

Julien Vallée. “Spray Can” paper sculp­ture for Illustrative Zürich fest­ival 2008
Kristina Alijošiūtė
About author:
Kristina Alijošiūtė
Kristina Alijošiūtė is Art Pit’s editor and blogger, also contributing in design solutions. She mostly focuses on quality and freshness of topics, but also values motivated irony and ability to stand out. Writing was always more a pleasure than an obligation to her. She also respects those who are not afraid to write subjectively. Kristina ... Read further >
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