Meet the creative mind behind the “Peace for Paris” image, French graphic designer Jean Jullien. After news of simultaneous terrorist attacks Friday night in Paris spread, with the attacks claiming over 100 lives, Jullien said he drew the image in reaction to the atrocious violence.
“Last night I was about to go for dinner,” Jullien told NPR‘s Michel Martin. “I turned on the French radio. I heard that it was an attack, and my first reaction was to draw.”
While Jean is from Paris, he now resides in London. In his interview with Wired, he said he is currently away on holiday and asked that his location not be disclosed.
Though Jean had no specific image in mind when he sat down to sketch, he thought about the need for peace and something that would symbolize Paris. The Eiffel Tower was a natural fit as a symbol of the City of Lights.
“The first thing that came to me was the idea of peace, that we needed peace. I was trying to look for a symbol of Paris, and obviously the Eiffel Tower was the first thing that sprang to my mind. I just connected both of them. You know, there wasn’t much work process behind that. It was more an instinctive, human reaction than an illustrator’s reaction.”
The “Peace for Paris” drawing was created in a sketch book with a brush and ink.
The beauty and simplicity of the image comes from the way in which Jullien incorporated the Eiffel Tower into the center of a peace sign. The image has caught on around the world and taken social media by storm. Many users have changed their profile photos to the drawing or shared it with family and friends. The image is also being printed on T-shirts, posters, memorials and flags, according to various sources.
After Jean finished sketching the peace sign, the “Peace for Paris” artist posted the drawing on Twitter and Instagram around midnight Paris time Friday night. Jullien’s tweet has been retweeted over 57,000 times and has over 42,000 likes. His Instagram post has garnered 157,000 likes and was re-posted by the official Instagram page.
When asked what he wanted to convey with his sketch, Jullien answered, “It’s a message of peace and solidarity. I didn’t do it to benefit from it in any way. It was my way of communicating with people I know and showing that I was thinking about everyone affected in Paris.”
Celebrities have also joined in on sharing the iconic image. E! News reports many celebrities such as Chris Rock, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, One Direction’s Harry Styles, and the cast of NBC’s show, Undateable, have shared the “Peace for Paris” symbols.
When Jullien woke up Saturday morning, he discovered the “Peace for Paris” symbol had gone viral. While there have been mostly positive responses, he shared there have also been negative responses, with some accusing Jullien of seeking personal gain.
“I’m sort of almost embarrassed to be getting that much exposure as a result of such a tragic event. However, it really shows that this is how we communicate not just as humans, but as a society.”
The “Peace for Paris” artist told NPR he was expressing his multitude of feelings upon hearing of the terrorist attacks happening in his home city.
“It’s this sort of moment where you don’t necessarily try to understand everything coherently. It’s more of a state of shock and sadness and anger and all these very sort of raw feelings. So for me, it’s just sort of trying to summarize these feelings in one image with my way of reacting.”
At least 129 people were killed Friday and more than 350 people were left wounded in six different attacks which were coordinated around Paris. Some of the wounded are in critical condition. The terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.
The highest number of deaths was at the Bataclan concert venue, where the American band, Eagles of Death Metal, was in the middle of a concert when shots rang out. The band has cancelled the rest of its tour and have reportedly returned to the United States.
France’s President described the attacks as “an act of war.”
Have you seen and shared the “Peace for Paris” symbol?
[Photo by Xaume Olleros/Getty Images]