and music company JohnJohn describes
it's unique navigational style for its
comics, TV cartoons, games, illustration,
painting, a recording company, a community-based
radio station and even a band... the
skills attached to JohnJohn's portfolio
are almost never ending.
For a company with such a diverse and
varied workbase, It's surprising that
JohnJohn is just a two-person company.
Based in Whitechapel, London, JohnJohn
was founded three years ago by Christine
Boulanger and Benoit Viellefon when
they amalgamated their ample - yet different
was really interested In films, music,
writing, comics, cartoons, setting up
stories... so when I discovered the
Mac In 1989,I was really Interested"
says Benoit. "I started to do animation,
graphic design, 3D, and CD authoring
seemed to be the way forward."
working in the games Industry In the
mid-'90s, Benoit became confident in
HTML and Flash. He had an idealistic
view back then that technology would
evolve and he would be able to migrate
his skills into one field: animation
and music on the Internet. So with the
help of Christine and her illustration
and Web skills, JohnJohn was born.
painting and sketching element to JohnJohn's
portfolio is courtesy of Christine.
"I learned to draw on computer
by myself in 1995," she says. "I
first worked for heart surgeons and
illustrating surgical operations and
illustrating articles for national newspapers."
But Christine wanted to extend her drawing
skills by taking her expertise to the
Web. The art and design stem of the
company comprises many big-name companies,
including the BBC, Nickelodeon, Ribena
and French companies TF1 (national television
company) and France Telecom.
just finished an online game for BBCi,
which you can see at [w] www.bbc.co.uk/so/games/snowfight,"
says Christine. For this game you have
to pelt 'celebrities', such as Gareth
Gates and Christina Aguillera, with
snowballs to win points. Other projects
for the Beeb include an online advent
calendar, with 26 animation shorts -
one for each of the 26 windows, "The
online calendar for BBCi was a lot of
fun. We had carte blanche to do whatever
we wanted as long as they liked it,
of course!" says Christine. "We
did the project from A-Z, creating the
stories, the characters, the animations...
and they loved it - it multiplied the
traffic to the Website four times.
Nickelodeon, JohnJohn created six 30-second
Flash movies with Bomb Productions (The
Big Giraffe and Genius Goldfish Show),
which were broadcast on the children's
satellite TV station and on Its site
at [w] http://nlck.co.uk/go/nlcktv/nicktv.shortstuff.gg.rhtml.
current bustling portfolio, which can
be seen at [w] www.johnjohn.co.uk,
delivers a unique navigational experience.
Entering the site takes you to a street
full of labelled buildings where you
choose which area of the portfolio you
would like to explore by going through
the corresponding door. Here, you can
choose between Art Gallery, Games, Design,
News, Shop, Radio or Live Music. Text
is minimal and you can easily find your
way around using the illustrations.
"We created our logo with two characters,
so we thought we should create a world
around them," says Christine. "The
navigation had to be obvious to people
wherever they come from. We tried to
use a universal language, and one of
the best is made of comics, characters
and signs that everybody reads instantly."
the navigation of the company's portfolio
being unique, Christine and Benoit wanted
a classic, almost timeless design. "When
I created the dancing characters three
years ago for our homepage, Benoit and
I were bored with the Web being overstuffed
with futuristic in-your-face designs
that were lacking in humour and colour,"
explains Christine. "We also wanted
something very simple and as timeless
as possible; we don't want to have to
change our design every six months."
the colour and humour lacking in other
sites that JohnJohn bases its work on,
and it's the company's signature style,
or the 'JohnJohn style as one of the
company's clients has named it. But
having just one easily identifiable
style isn't something that Christine
and Benoit consider to be a good idea
for their company's portfolio of work.
"It's like bosses who let their
employees do the same job for 20 years,"
says Christine. "They think you'll
be more efficient if you do one thing.
Well, you decide. I think the more you
experiment, the better - you keep your
brain awake and, most of all, you don't
become jobless if people don't want
your famously identifiable style anymore."
is currently working on a set of postcards
for greetings card company The Carte
www.thecartepostale.com, who was
intrigued by the JohnJohn characters.
The postcards will be available to buy
in shops from February. "They [the
postcards] have a world-wide distribution,"
says Christine. They sell up to a hundred
thousand copies each. "It's a lot
of work, but The Carte Postale is so
happy about it that it wants more."
The project is still in its early stages.
many design companies favour one or
two choice applications for their work,
the diversity of JohnJohn's portfolio
requires a plethora of software comprising
Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, HTM,
JavaScnpt, ColdFusion, Cakewalk Audio
Pro and Sound Edit. As far as hardware
is concerned, the work Is shared between
an Apple G4 Quicksilver 800MHz and a
G3 600MHz PowerBook, along with lots
of pencils, paper, paint, Italian expresso
coffee and daylight.
the future, JohnJohn wants to add another
string to its bow by looking into the
possibility of using 3D applications.
"To be honest," says Christine,
"It's already very difficult to
stay on top of the software that you
master, as it changes all the time,
especially the Web-authoring tools."
So, expect to see some 3D animation
from the company soon. Or maybe a number
one album from JohnJohn the band...
Who knows what the future holds for
this diverse design company?
your own portfolio
the professionals' advice and create
your own portfolio...
must know what sort of job you want
to do and select the work that you'll
display accordingly. Don't try to show
everything, and try to get something
that looks coherent.
old stuff may not be as good as your
recent work. If you have similar projects,
only show the latest one and quote the
Also if you have a bit of experience,
avoid showing college work.
to be elegant and stylish (unless you
target other markets such as game design,
for example) and most of all, put your
humour and Intelligence in the foreground.
one month designing a nice portfolio
Is useless If you don't advertise. Contact
people, send emails with little teasers,
but be to the point. Put ads In magazines
(watch your budget), get press releases,
be well ranked In search engines.
part of a team working for well-known
brands looks good, but being responsible
for a whole project for smaller clients
looks just as good if not better. If
you're a freelancer, having recurrent
direct clients Is a proof of reliability
- having big names direct Is the key
to press coverage.
your clients by choosing an appropriate
design. You have a direction, so you
should study the type of market you
want to crack and orientate your design
you design a site, make it clear, fast
and very easy to navigate. If your client/employer
struggles to find its way, you're sure
to lose them. Also, be concise with
a site Is the cheapest way to touch
a wide audience, but lots of companies
will still want to get a showreel on
CD-ROM. Develop your portfolio In order
to be able to do an online version as
well as an offline version.
exaggerate your competence or pretend
that you did this or that when your
colleagues did It. Clients/employers
can see through it in a matter of minutes.
your portfolio, correspondence or emails,
be concise and check your spelling.
People don't have time to read lots
of text, and bad copy will get you rejected
forever. The first impression is often
the main barrier you need to overcome.