SCULL – An Early Glimpse @ James Jean’s RIFT

scull sketch & final

[UPDATE: View second landscape in part two HERE]

artist, James Jean is one of the most awe-inspiring illustrators working today.  By the time of his 2001 graduation from New York‘s School of Visual Arts, he had already been recognized with 4 separate prestigious art awards.  Since then, he has collected over a dozen more.  His work is rooted in fantasy and contains the dark, yet whimsical qualities of Victorian Childrens Literature.  His paintings are eerily beautiful as if they were manifested onto poltergeists stretched into canvas.  There is a deeply emotional quality to James Jean‘s art which, somehow, leaves it feeling both nostalgic and fresh.  A universal quality rests in this formula, which has garnered him critical acclaim for his work with clients that range from DC Comics to Prada.

One thing that I appreciate about Jean is his desire to humanize himself and his work.  DJ Qbert and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz had a similar approach to their work in the realm of turntablism.  They were untouchable innovators that blew every competitor off of the stage, but they were also passionate about presenting new possibilities in their craft to everyone.  They were some of the first DJs to expose the labels on the records they were spinning and to actually divulge their secrets to the masses, because of their yearning to move the art-form forward.  Jean is similar in the respect that he’s pushing the envelope, while being known for showing his original sketches and works in progress.  Although the final products of the artists in both fields seem mind boggling, these behind the scenes peaks into their world help to break down the realities of the technique and make that level of skill seem slightly more attainable and less daunting.

Lately, James Jean has been providing glimpses into one of his latest projects with, independent publisher, Chronicle Books.  The project is called “RIFT” and is a collection of new art in the form of 15 postcards.  Last year, Jean released a collection of 30 postcards through Chronicle, but this release will be slightly different.  Not only does the use of new project specific art separate it from its predecessor, but packaging and presentation has also been completely re-imagined.  All of the postcards are connected to fold out like an accordion and they revolve around two major landscape pieces that he has created.

On Saturday, Jean posted the following photoshop screenshot image through his Twitter account.  Along with the picture was the description, “Designing cover to Rift: 15 Postcards

{click to enlarge}

The image on the left is a section taken from one of the landscapes, which is titled “SCULL“.  The name was revealed on his blog site, yesterday, along with the following full image.

James Jean RIFT digital full

If you click the image above to it’s full size, you will noticed the elaborate detail and extensiveness of the piece.  From what I have gathered, SCULL will be divided into 8 different segments; each one creating a separate postcard.

The most fascinating thing about the accordion style packaging is that the landscapes can operate in the same fashion as a MAD Magazine fold-in.

Here’s how Jean explains all of this in the blog that contained the image:

–each card can stand alone as a single image or the set can be folded to reveal new images hidden within the larger landscapes. There will be a few metallic accents on the flying fish and in the rain.

Utilizing some photoshop of my own, I have removed the 4 middle panels to present how this effect will operate.  Here is one example about how SCULL appears when folded:


I have also divided the landscape into its 8 panels to give you an idea of how the postcards will appear individually.

Postcard/Panel #1

Postcard/Panel #2

Postcard/Panel #3

Postcard/Panel #4

Postcard/Panel #5

Postcard/Panel #6

Postcard/Panel #7

Postcard/Panel #8

Early this morning, a better view of the second landscape was provided.  The following Twitpic was posted with the label “Working on final production files for RIFT

James Jean Rift final production

Hopefully RIFT will be available for purchase soon.  If you’re interested in getting it, it’s important to be aware that Jean‘s art has become increasingly collectible and the first runs often disappear quickly.

For those out there with a hefty disposable income, Jean also posted the following information on his blog:

The originals for RIFT will be on display at a small show in Brussels in November. Those interested in purchasing the originals should contact Carl Wyckaert:



In January, James Jean presented his first ever solo exhibit at the Johnathan LeVine gallery in NY.  The long-awaited event was titled KINDLING and can be viewed in all of it’s glory by clicking HERE.

Last month, the art of KINDLING was released in a book of removable prints.  Here’s a quick video of the release.

PR3 cover
This Saturday, Oct. 17th, the artist will be doing a signing of Kindling and his other new book, PR3 (Project Recess #3), at Nucleus in Alhambra, Ca.  The limited edition copies of PR3 sold out immediately, but the regular editions of both books will be available to be signed and purchased at the event.  Details HERE.

Another huge event that Jean will be apart of is the Giant Robot Biennial 2, commemorating the magazine‘s 15th anniversary.  The festivities are being held at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles on Oct. 24thJean will have his own installation at the event, along with David Choe and additional work by Kozyndan, Jeff Soto, and more.  There is also a separate component with the work of 50 other artists.  This should be a ridiculously huge event.  Here’s a video that really doesn’t explain a fucking thing about it.


This fool is constantly busy.  He even created a set of 3 mini-journals, collectively called “SKRWL“.  Right now, pre-0rders are currently available.

To keep track of updates and/or check out more of James Jean, use the following links: (official website)
James Jean on Twitter (official blog)
A Polite Winter (a visual ‘conversation’/online collab w/Kenichi Hoshine)

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

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