Stockxpert Contributor Profile: Julos

By Ben Kessler of the Network

Dateline: September 17, 2007
Discuss this in the Digital Photography forum

"Julos" specializes in illustrations that blur the line between animate and inanimate through sheer imagination. For example, his alarm clock with devil horns is a funny and instantly recognizable conceit, but Julos takes anthropomorphism one step further when he shows a demonic computer virus and a firewall duking it out with boxing gloves. Similarly, his impressively rendered cute/menacing animals represent extremes of malevolence or benevolence. With witty embellishments and exaggerations, Julos hilariously satirizes the significance we place on animals and objects.

This adventurous Stockxpert contributor answered my questions in an email exchange.

Ben Kessler: Let's start off with the basics, please: Name; age; country of origin.

Julos: Julien Tromeur, 33, France.

How and when were you introduced to microstock?

About a year ago, I saw an ad in a mag, I had all these illustrations sleeping on my hard drive so I decided to make them available. I didn't take it too seriously at first, because of my day job and the lack of time, but then I started to have some sales and good feedback, and most importantly good contacts for freelance work.

Can you say more about the freelance contacts you've made through Stockxpert?

It's great exposure, people know what you can do, they know your style. I actually had someone who asked me for the exclusive rights for the "earth with hands and feet" today. I couldn't, so we decided to make a new one with new poses.

Do you have any formal training as an illustrator? If not, how did you learn your craft?

I drew on the tables at school, does that count ? :) I studied economics at university, didn't like it, wasn't very good at it. At the same time I always played with computers, Amstrad, Atari, etc. So after my failure at economics I was trained in computer graphics. This was when the web exploded so I found a job in a start-up, and another one, and another one.

Eventually I learned 3ds Max and was lucky enough to be in a company that let me use 3D in everything: I used it for product design, animations, CD-ROMs, etc...

Outside of microstock, what do you do with your time?

The girlfriend, plenty of movies, a bit of sport...

What tools do you use to create your images?

Silo and Lightwave. Lightwave has a very good render engine.

How long does it take you to create an image?

It depends. 3D takes time: A character like the frog would be about two days of work, including modeling, texturing, rigging, posing and rendering. But once you have the character you can render it in many situations, and even animate it, that's the beauty of 3D.

Your illustrations often depict mundane objects and everyday people in a cartoon-like style. Are you influenced by comic strips and animated films?

Of course, and I buy tons of books, especially 2D and classic illustrators. More and more I try to do simple and strong pictures, like my "Camera boy," for example (shown below). Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't.

On a similar note, how important are pen and paper to your creative process? Do you sketch your ideas before converting them to pixels?

More and more important actually, yes, but mostly I write down ideas. For example I have this cute monkey, the character now exists, he's fun to look at, but now I have to think of him in silly situations. So I try to put on paper or post-its the ideas I get, because it can come anytime anywhere, lately it's a monkey with a necktie, a monkey giving a hug to a huge banana, and so on.

One of your most popular images shows a friendly frog that seems eager to say hello. How do you create a lovable creature such as this?

The frog was an attempt to do something more realistic, I used Zbrush for the texturing. Why is the one saying hello working the most? I have no idea, that's the beauty of microstock: Sales don't lie, statistics show you what people like or not. It can be frustrating sometimes because some illustrations you're proud of don't work at all, but that's the way it is. :) I still try to do something fun and new from time to time, it's less boring.

Your "aggressive dog," in stark contrast to the frog, appears to want to take a bite out of the viewer with a gaping, razor-toothed maw that resembles the mouth of a great white shark. What inspired you to create this fearsome animal?

I don't really know, probably my fear of pitbulls.

You compound your creativity by putting your icons and characters in wild contexts. (The recent "Beer playing soccer" comes to mind.) How do you come up with these scenarios?

Lots of beer! And brainstorming with my girlfriend, we try to put down ideas, even the dumb ones can work.

Among your most downloaded images are several "cool backgrounds." Do you design these as independent images, or as backdrops to images you have already made or will make?

The backgrounds was experimenting with the software and tutorials, I like the clean result. I still plan to do some more tests and experiments.

Your recent "real estate" illustrations all use an appealing blue-and-gold scheme. How do you choose the colors in your images?

Experimenting. Of course, blue sells better than red, but I still try to come up with more original color schemes, for more stylized original pictures. For example, I like the retro look you can have with some beige and orange mixes.

Have your interactions with other members of the Stockxpert community influenced your work at all? If so, how?

Yes, I have to admit that sometimes you have absolutely no inspiration or idea, then you just look at what's happening, the trends. It doesn't mean you're going to do the same, but you realize that some subjects or styles are important, like the global warming movement or a sporting event.

Can you give us a preview of what you're planning to upload in the near future?

A stylized soccer player, a new fat Santa Claus, and I just bought a camera, so I have lots of ideas on mixing traditional photos with 3D. We'll see how it looks. :)

To see more of Julien Tromeur's work, visit his gallery on the site.