Meet Jean Jullien, the artist mistaken for Banksy who created Peace for Paris symbol of solidarity
Published 16/11/2015 | 07:56
Among the thousands of tweets expressing shock, grief and news from the Paris terrorist attacks on Friday night came one that would, quietly, become an emblem of hope and solidarity.
French artist Jean Jullien posted a drawing: a roughly painted re-appropriation of the symbol for peace, but with the middle triangle adapted to become Paris's most identifiable building: the Eiffel Tower.
Jullien captioned his picture "Peace for Paris" on both his Facebook and Twitter accounts – a statement that became intrinsically tied with the image after it was retweeted more than 42,000 times and shared on Facebook more than 22,000 times. Celebrities including Harry Styles and Jamie Oliver have shared the picture online.
Speaking to The Telegraph, the London-based artist said he drew the picture after seeing the news. "It was my most direct reaction. Usually when I draw I make an image that will make people laugh, or communicate.
"But this time I felt like communicating something that made me and everybody very upset. It was just my way of sharing my reaction, of sharing a need for peace and solidarity in the face of such a disaster."
But within minutes, Jullien's work was mistaken for that of a far more prominent artist: Banksy. Fake fan account @therealbanksy shared Jullien's image, with the same caption – leading thousands of followers to frantically retweet the photo and wrongly attribute it to the Bristol street artist.
Coincidentally, Banksy also updated his website on Saturday morning, with a statement saying that he is not on Facebook or Twitter.
However, Jullien says that he does not mind that his work was wrongly attributed: "I didn't care. It's not the time to claim ownership, or a price on something. It's not a time for concerns like that.
It wasn't a piece to promote myself, sell anything or get anything. It was meant to be used freely, to encourage peace in Paris and peace in general."
The tragedy of the events in Paris have outshone the global reaction Jullien has had with his drawing: "I wish I could say it feels great, but given the circumstances I can't. I feel completely shocked, angry, and sad.
It's the most horrible circumstance for my work to be getting attention."
Jullien has described the reaction as "overwhelming". "It's not very useful to keep looking at the comments. Some people have been angry, but others are seeing it for what it is: a sign of peace and unity. I am hurting for people."