Illustrators Jean Jullien and Mrzyk & Moriceau have collaborated to create a limited edition zine called Ping Pong. Published by Switzerland-based Nieves, the zine is a “mix between a game of exquisite corpse and a visual conversation” between the illustrators.
The project came about from Mrzyk & Moriceau, aka Petra Mrzyk and Jean-François Moriceau, who often exchange their own drawings in a similar manner already. Mrzyk and Moriceau met 20 years ago at art school in Quimper, France and have worked together since. Their pared-back works are always full of humour and surprise, and often laced with cheekiness.
“We thought it would be interesting to exchange drawings with other artists who have different styles,” says Moriceau. “We thought of Jean because we felt comfortable playing and partying with him, and we like his simplicity a lot.” Similarly Jullien pumps his work full of fun and humour, embracing uncomplicated yet textured linework and happy colours to create joyful illustrations.
For over a year, Jullien and Mrzyk & Moriceau swapped images, with the only rough rule being that there had to be a link with the previous picture. The simplicity of the project made it easy for the illustrators to dip in and out of. “We’re all busy, so we had to work around our respective calendars,” explains Jullien. “But that was a nice thing, feeling like we could all be flexible.”
The straightforward nature of the project also made its way into the drawings themselves as they were all kept as black and white line works, creating some cohesion between the styles. “It’s faster, very often Petra and I don’t agree on colours, so we prefer to keep the drawings in black and white to avoid any trouble,” explains Moriceau.
Both of their styles are on display throughout the zine, and the subtle differences are what makes it interesting. “Our lines are different and complementary. We draw with Rotring pens (in the past architects used these to work with) so our lines are very clean,” explains Moriceau. “Jean is using a kind of pen-brush, his line is more wild and dirty. We used to make a few drafts before creating the final drawing, whereas Jean would almost always go directly to the final drawing.”
Jullien embraced this uninhibited approach throughout the project. “I don’t think everything I produced for the book is good, but in a way I like that,” he says. “It’s what makes the exercise interesting, the fact that it was just that: a game. It wasn’t about success but more about the exchange and the result of that exchange. However imperfect it might be.”
Even with these so-called imperfections the 44-page zine is filled with funny, original and imaginative drawings from both Jullien and Mrzyk & Moriceau. From a yin and yang sign being sliced like a sausage to a ghost emerging happily out of a washing machine, the zine is a playful exercise in collaboration and drawing for the love of it. “I think it worked because our work has parallels in many ways but there are also fundamental differences, which makes the crossing all the more interesting,” explains Jullien.
There was also an element of surprise the illustrators enjoyed both from what the other would create and what they would create in return. “Everything was simple and fun,” says Moriceau. “Our one regret? The party was too short!”