For the fifth edition of the “BCBF Visual Identity Workshop”, Chialab and the BCBF team have chosen the Parisian Jean Mallard, an illustrator selected for the Illustrators Exhibition and the 2018 winner of the ARS IN FABULA scholarship jointly instituted by the ARS IN FABULA School of Illustration and BCBF.
Let's meet the illustrator of the 2021 BCBF Visual Identity.
Your relationship with the Illustrators Exhibition is a happy and fruitful one.
After having won the Grant Award - Ars in Fabula in 2018, this year you were chosen by Chialab to develop the 2021 Visual Identity.
Would you like to tell us what was the workshop like?
We can say that I was very lucky: the Bologna fair filled my life with adventures these last two years... Thanks to the Grant Award, I took off to Italy in Macerata, where I spent a few months in the Ars in Fabula school. It was really beautiful to learn and discover another country and new people. Then it made me want to explore other places in Italy, which is why I came down to live in Naples for a while to draw. So what a joy to come back to Bologna for a new story!
I was first of all very honored to be chosen because it is a great job, and I was very familiar with the illustrations of Chloé Almeras that I had met in Bologna when she herself produced the visual identity back in 2018, and whose work I love.
But I was also nervous about this responsibility, which is why it was a treat to work with the ChiaLab team. They were all really calming and motivating, and their workplace is a little cocoon in the city: among the large plants in their workshop I had a lot of ideas.
We started off in all directions the first two days, also to meet and learn how to communicate. Then an idea began to come together: the symbiotic world.
At that time, I was obsessed with the study of mutual aid in the natural environment, and the tiny networks that allow the world to exist as it is. I was going crazy in front of the beauty and the subtlety of the food webs, and I wanted to get to tell something about it, raising awareness about this invisible beauty that we all benefit from. Discussing with the ChiaLab team, we told ourselves that this symbiotic principle also applies to our scale, everywhere in our surroundings. For example, even the creation of books requires this extraordinary coordination between several individuals who come together to bring something to life.
So we started to imagine a graphic system, where several shapes or characters, by associating with each other, make a larger whole. I drew a lot of small beings, taking inspiration from the microscopic world, those that we do not see but who work tirelessly, so that the world lives. Plankton, insects, corals...
I also looked a lot at plants and minerals, looking for crazy colors that we don't usually consider using. Then, we created connection systems, allowing each character or shape to be linked to another, and thus be free to create networks, new creatures, spectacular beings! At the beginning it was a puzzle, so that everything could be linked but you had to be extremely precise in the realization for the links to actually work. Once I agreed on the plans, I undertook the final drawings, in watercolor and gouache as well as in line, to have a variation between solid colored shapes, and others only outlined.
After a lot of work, the result is finally there for everyone to see!