In 2018, Mickey celebrated his 90th birthday. In collaboration with Disney France and Quai 36, I had the pleasure to be asked to make the iconic mouse my own. The work adorned the walls of Bordeaux, with over 30 Mickeys hiding in the city. The same event, with other local artists, took place in Paris, Lyon and Marseille, and the most active city in the Mickey hunting, measured via hashtags on social media, won an exclusive Disney event to celebrate even more the birthday. And mine won :)
In 2014, I had a dream where I could immerse my hands inside the screen of an old B&W TV, tweaking the body of a poor Steamboat Willie-era Mickey, eventually turning him into a kind of centaur freak. Reflecting on the character's legendary status and how many transformations he had gone through all these years, I wanted to keep that ever-changing vibe from the dream, mixing it with the night magic of Fantasia on the way. The first concept you can see below was deemed too abstract, obviously, as people had to recognize him from far away.
I kept it the dreamy, surreal, Fantasia-infused setting from the initial sketch, took the iconic "hands behind the back pose" and transformed its tail into a self-introducing giant hand.
The result, "Essence M", was a more defined Mickey, yet retaining the essence of change from the old dream, embodying almost a century of countless iterations and re-designs of Disney's mascot. After discovering Bordeaux had very scarce vertical format ads, I had to a last minute wider version, adding a good amount of background.
In the background, amidst the mountains and clouds, you can hunt for pareidolia nods to the old friends of Mickey. I added 2 suggestive shapes for characters linked to the origins of the icon forthe wider version: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, of which Mickey is kind of a reincarnation, and Flip the Frog, who is a Disney character, but one that Mickey's original designer, Ub Iwerks, took with him when leaving Disney.
Yours truly, happily and awkwardly unrolling the 158cm tall art print that went to Disney France, in front of a local weird being people call an influencer.
Epilogue: a year later, I had another opportunity with Disney US / World to give Goofy the surreal magic treatment.
Dreame is a start-up that was first dedicated to illustrate people's dreams. I am a lucid dreamer, and have always been in an intimate relationship with dreams.
My work with Dreame started with a focus on a surreal, minimal and luminous flow, crystallising the ethereal and fuzzy fabric of dreams into eerie pieces of art, gradually going back to a Moebius-inspired festival of bolder outlines and colours.
Together, we worked on intimate dreams for individuals, charities bringing together Palestinians and Israelis, or helping prostitutes to transition out of it, foundations, PayPal, Noisey (VICE Magazine), Google for Startups and I art directed our biggest and most ambitious project: the Big Dream, gathering thousands of dreams for the future of the world all around the world, assembling a team of 60 artists from all backgrounds and techniques, make 500 artworks inspired by the dream database, to then exhibit it all over the world and ultimately inside the ISS (yes, literal space) on SpaceX Axiom Space-1 with the help of the Ramon Foundation and astronaut Eytan Stibbe. As this exhibited art is also an NFT, this is the first NFT to be exhibited inside the International Space Station.
^ An interactive map of dreams collected was made, linking similar dreams around the globe.
One of my contributions to the 500 pieces - a dream from China hoping for terraforming Mars. >
Google for Startups,
transforming Google's wordmark into a utopia being like a lighthouse for entrepreneurs
Messari commissioned me through Daoz to make art to compliment their review of 2021 in crypto and present their results as NFTs.
This crazy collection is a mix of themes pertaining to cryptocurrencies, blockchain protocols, regulations, project, NFTs and crypto art culture at large, with portraits of 15 especially influential individuals during this year.
As these were uploaded on Giphy, The Flippening became one of the first GIFs appearing when you search for "crypto" GIFs on social media, totalling more than 4 million views.
Following projects included printed & tokenised fake bank notes with crypto's biggest scammers/money loss, a tote bag design and a now defunct character-based system for networking.
As part of my street art culture, I soon became obsessed with the sticker format. I am published in many editions from the world classic Stickerbomb books (Laurence King Publishing) and a few Stickermags (Germany). The latter helped me publish my first international collective stickerbook with my friends from Pictoplasma Academy (DasGhost), and then my second one Stickélium, with a mushroom theme, 12 women & 12 men artists from all over the world and all techniques collaborating on what I had the ambition to be the best stickerbook ever.
In 2013, I was commissioned to make a digital collectible set by Neonmob, trailblazing the digital collectibles far before NFTs. Chris Messina, inventor of the hashtags in social media, was the art director then. I set my mind on making 107 mushrooms in a couple months, a daunting task with character design, traditional inking (japanese sumi) on watercolour paper, scanning, digital colouring and framing happening in the same day. The series was highly successful and was probably the start of my passion for the Fungal Kingdom. With its different rarity sets identified by the colour of leaves on the frame, and character-packed mix of real species and imaginary ones, Codex Fungi was successful and sold out soon enough.
I made a second set of 107 characters, this time fueled by another obsession of mine - masks. Taking on the minimalistic, pure black and white with simple shapes approach mixed with photorealistic frames, the series was also a painstaking storytelling effort as the description of each character gave insight in the particular world they live in, often giving information about another character through anecdotes.
Masqs are immaterial beings whose main raison d'être is to "attach" themselves to specific unsuspecting humans, allowing them to experience reality, and the wide array of human feelings, for a moment.
"symbiotic association composed of a fungus and roots of a vascular plant"
Art Direction / Original Concept / 3D Printing / Hand work / Painting / Finishing Touches: Jæn
3D Modeling / Rendering / Assistant: Emmanuelle Le Nouaille
Half-tree half-mushroom, it evokes a mycorrhiza, which is the intelligent network exchanging nutrients and information between the roots of plants and the mycelium (the vast underground part of the mushrooms), thought to have enabled the Earth to be fully colonised by plants. It symbolizes how an intelligent cooperation between human and nature can bring a healthy and safe future for all living things. Moreover, the combination of hand work, eco-friendly materials and high tech is representative of the kind of environmental ethos, aesthetics and mindset we wish for today. 3D printed in recycled, recyclable and biodegradable PLA (polylactic acid, made from corn starch), these eco-designed trophies were commissioned by the French Department of Gironde (Bordeaux) to award sustainable local projects from public institutions, associations, private companies and schools.
Initially commissioned for the 20th edition of French urban culture festival Les Vibrations Urbaines de Pessac (Bordeaux area, France), mixing hip hop dance battles with skate and BMX contests, video game LANs, concerts, urban art group show (I got the 3rd Prize in 2016) and performances, and more. There are ten golden eggs references to 1998 releases (1 video game, 1 movie and 8 albums). Above is a personal work using the same character.