This illustrator's 'messy but fun' studio space will inspire you

One of the industry's most sought-after artists, Jean Jullien throws open the doors of his East London studio.

French designer Jean Jullien in his London-based studio space

Dalston sits on the border of Stoke Newington, Islington, Hoxton and Hackney, and comes across as the sort of edgy, dynamic suburb of East London that creatives tend to flock to.

A case in point is the studio of French graphic designer Jean Jullien, who has shared his modest design space with brother Nicholas (the other half of moving image duo Jullien Brothers) and fellow creatives Thibaud Herem and Daniel Frost for the last year.

"It's messy, but a fun place to work in," says Jullien of the self-contained studio, situated in a newly refurbished block of flats leased exclusively to creatives. "It's full of random objects – not something we particularly designed, it just developed into something we love over time."

Japanese Hitachino Nest beer bottles take pride of place on Jullien's bookshelf

At any rate, a consistent aesthetic runs through the space which reflects a growing appreciation for design in its variegating forms. A trio of exquisitely labelled beer bottles – Japanese Hitachino Nest among them – sit on Jullien's bookcase, rescued from recycling because "they look as good as they taste," he assures us.

Guarding the shelf space a little way above is a phalanx of action figures, the largest of which is Galactus, the higher being and embodiment of the cosmos of Marvel comic fame.

A selection of action figures watch over the studio

"There are tons of Marvel toys, but actually only two oversized ones," says Jullien, "I love the fact that they decided to go epic on this one. Plus the colours of these figures really stimulate me when I design characters."

Jullien collaborated with his brother on the artwork for the Troll Slayer album Catastrophe

Audio stimulation is also close to hand – and close to the heart – thanks to Jullien's Troll Slayer album Catastrophe, by the French electronic musician Niwouinwouin: "It was the first album cover that my brother and I worked on together," he says. "The Jullien Brothers collaboration came directly out of that."

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones provides inspiration when necessary

Even the sound of one hand takes its place on the shelves of the warmly-lit studio, with a well-thumbed copy of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, the classic compilation of 101 koans, stood poised for that quick shot of enlightened inspiration.

"It's an amazing book cover too," says Jullien, "a super zen brushy look in the style of Chu Ta. All my work is done with a brush pen, so he's a bit of a graphic hero of mine."

A gift, Jullien's Premana scissors are both useful and beautiful

Another of Jullien's instruments of choice is his pair of Premana scissors, appreciated for both their usefulness and Italian craftsmanship. "They were a gift from my girlfriend," he says. "I just think they're a gorgeous piece of practical design."

This article first appeared in Computer Arts issue 232, a design education special packed with insight, inspiration and behind-the-scenes access to the world's most exciting creative minds.