The Making of Jean Jullien’s Business Cards by Jukebox Print

As with any other industry, in the design world a business card is a powerful tool to create a memorable first impression and stand out as a bold, unique individual. Furthermore, a business card can be a physical representation of a designer’s work and the ultimate way to convey a creative personality. For French graphic artist Jean Jullien, designing his business cards was yet another opportunity to express his ingenious nature in a simple but distinctive way.

Based in London, Jean Jullien is internationally renowned for his wide-ranging oeuvre comprising illustration, photography, video, costume, installations, books, clothing, and posters. Using a coherent signature style of black brushstrokes, brightly hued simplicity, and uninhibited humour, Jean’s work interprets the world around him and uses graphic language to make a visual commentary on quotidian life – from meals and commuting to beach holidays, and dogs, lots of dogs.

The artist at work. Photo by Daniel Arnold.

His eclectic body of work has been shown at galleries in Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York, Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok and beyond. His whimsical hand-drawn aesthetic and lighthearted characters are a constant throughout personal projects and client work that includes the New York Times, New Yorker, The Guardian, RCA Records, National Geographic, Le Centre Pompidou, Esquire, Hermès, Champion USA, Salomon, and Vogue, among many others.

In keeping with his style of conveying ideas in a playful manner, while experimenting with a wide range of different media – from a 5-meter-tall street lamp in Hong Kong to a limited-edition series of skateboards – Jean set out to create wholly original business cards for himself. He wanted something simple, almost effortless, yet compelling. The final design was clean and effective: a hand-shaped card in his characteristic style of bold brushstrokes.

For the printing process that would bring his idea to life, he approached Jukebox Print. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Jukebox works with customers around the world, pushing boundaries when it comes to specialised printing services such as letterpress, screen print, foil, emboss, and 3D emboss. Jean had worked with Jukebox on previous projects, including an art exhibit for which Jukebox produced his pieces in letterpress, so they were both familiar with each other’s style. Together, they collaborated on the idea of seamlessly integrating the cards into an original custom hand-shaped die cut made exclusively for Jean.

Endless possibilities to play with.

It was clear that such a superb design deserved premium stock, so when it came to selecting the right paper Jukebox chose to print Jean’s cards on the finest Gmund 600gsm Cotton using a two-colour letterpress process.

Germany’s Gmund Paper is the unequivocal leader in the industry, recognised for two centuries of quality craftsmanship and fine papers. Their 100% cotton stock exudes richness and perfection, and its striking texture and strength has proven to be ideal for letterpress printing: it’s stable on the press and receptive to crisp deep impressions, but also luxurious and soft to the touch.

Letterpress printing is one of the most highly regarded techniques worldwide and a preferred choice of many renowned designers and illustrators. This method of sheer complexity is steeped in history and old-world allure but when paired with modern and vibrant designs, the results are stunning: timeless elegance meets contemporary flair. Yet, the printing process still follows several traditional stages and a series of painstaking steps:

1. The process began with careful selection and mixing of the inks, starting with a light flesh tone using Pantone 90-8.

Letterpress printing involves many meticulous steps to achieve perfect handcrafted quality.

2. Once the perfect tone had been achieved, the ink was manually applied to the press roller.

Jukebox uses vintage presses that have been carefully preserved and are working at full capacity.

3. The next step was setting up the die. This involved the creation of metal plates, with each plate being unique to a different colour (in the case of Jean’s cards, two colours were used). Print was done one colour at a time, using the lightest shade first.

Setting up the metal plates.

4. Once the first colour passes had been completed, a Jukebox letterpress operator closely examined the colour density and impression, making sure the quality was impeccable and the detail was crisp and clean.

Letterpress printing requires precision and expertise.

5. After the two flesh-toned inks were applied (one to the front and one to the back of the card) and the colour density and impression were approved, the black ink for the text and hand outline was applied next. The pressure used to apply this ink was more intense than for the previous colours, in order to give the paper a true letterpress impression: deep but showing fine detail.

6. Once all the inks were applied, the next step was die cutting the cards to give them their custom hand shape. Even more than just their whimsical look, what makes the cards unique is that the die cut allows the fingers to be folded into a fun variety of hand signs.

7. The final step was to paint the edges of the cards in a matte black to highlight their uniqueness and to mirror Jean’s artistic style using broad strokes in black ink.

The end product was a simple but effective networking tool (and unquestionably a great conversation starter!) that reflected Jean’s distinctive work and personality.

Paper Select: Gmund Cotton

Source: The Design Blog