James Jean is a Taiwanese American visual artist, known for both his commercial work and fine art gallery work. He is known in the American comics industry as a cover artist for various books published by DC Comics, as well as for his work for Prada, ESPN and Atlantic Records. His work, which has been collected in numerous volumes, has been compared by The New York Times to that of Maxfield Parrish.
Jean was born in Taiwan and was raised in Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey. He was educated at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, from which he graduated in 2001.
In 2001, Jean became a cover artist for DC Comics, garnering seven Eisner awards, three consecutive Harvey awards, two gold medals and a silver from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, and a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators of New York. He also worked in advertising, and has contributed to many national and international publications. His clients included Time Magazine, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, ESPN, Atlantic Records, Target, Playboy, Knopf, Prada among others. He illustrated covers for the comic book series Fables and The Umbrella Academy, for which he has won six Eisner Awards for “Best Cover Artist”. In 2006 he won Best Artist from the World Fantasy Awards.
In 2007, Jean created a mural for the Prada Epicenter stores in New York and Los Angeles. He also created a backdrop for Prada’s Spring/Summer 2008 show in Milan. Aspects of the Epicenter mural and the Milan wallpaper were transformed into clothing, handbags, shoes, and packaging. Prada undertook a global campaign that featured Jean’s work in advertising environments, animation, and special events.
In 2008, Jean again collaborated with Prada, developing an animated short based on the wallpapers, clothing, and accessories produced in 2007. He wrote, storyboarded, and did the visual development for the animation, which would be eventually titled “Trembled Blossoms”, taken from the poem “Ode to Psyche”, by John Keats.
In 2010, Jean was commissioned by fashion designer Phillip Lim to paint a series of portraits featuring Los Angeles-based actors, musicians, and tastemakers, including Rachel Bilson, Selma Blair, and Devendra Banhart.
Dana Jennings of The New York Times says of Jean’s work: “And, as with his Fables work, the paintings and illustrations are often suffused with a dreamy romanticism and lyricism worthy of Maxfield Parrish, even as Mr. Jean subverts those and other isms.”