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The most important thing is to smile and have fun in front of an image. To be honest, this is very easy with the artworks of Justin Poulsen. From Canada, Justin has always been fascinated by conceptual illustration. By looking at the image one can give many interpretations which are even different one from the other.

Justin’s technique and study are unquestionable, but it is essential to remember his continuous research and his smart and sarcastic cut for every image. Every object comes out of its habitual context, riding new waves.

Corn on the Cob

What's the funniest thing about your job?

The funniest thing about my job is that a large portion of it bears great resemblance to an art class one might take when they are 8 years old. There are a lot of hands- on elements where I am experimenting with different materials, and it feels like I am being paid to relive my grade school art courses. I refer to this part of the process as "spray painting macaroni".

Tell us about your creative process

My work usually works one of two ways. Sometimes a client will come to me with a fully fledged idea and I execute it (building the scene, making the props, photograph or document with video, and then editing). Other times the client comes to me with a problem or loose idea and I act as a problem solver and art director. I'll generate concepts that fulfill those ideas and then execute on it. On occasion, there have been jobs that mix the two.

When I'm trying to develop a concept, I'm often trying to subvert expectations in a way that is self-referential using tangible objects.

When I'm executing a concept I have a number of particular skills that I use to create. I do a lot of sculpting, painting, mold making, 3D printing, and laser cutting to iterate and develop physical props and sculptures. At the moment, I'm working on integrating more electronics into my sculpture work.

In pursuit of happiness

Hot dog shoes

What inspires you the most?

I'm a big fan of humour in mundanity. Ironic signs and funny vanity license plates.

Do you have a project you feel particularly attached to?

I'm most attached to the unreleased project I am currently working on. =)

Other than that, I am likely best known for my Thumb Drive project, where I made a mold of my thumb and cast one hundred copies of my thumb as a digital storage device. I loaded these with my portfolio, wrapped them in gauze, and mailed them to people I hoped to work with. The project ended up blowing up and going viral online. The reason I'm most attached to it is that it encapsulated and exemplified a lot of my processes in one project.

Still life at play


Everyday objects come to life and become something else. Where does this need come from?

To me, the ability to give items a transformative nature is akin to magic. I think all humans do this as children, but sometimes we lose this capability along the way. A child has a blanket or toy that brings them immense comfort. To them this inanimate object has a magical and ethereal quality. If I can capture anything that stimulates a portion of those nostalgic feelings, I'd consider myself successful. This kind of circles back to how I feel like I am reliving grade school art class. The process of making the work is in itself a reference to its own being. I construct by play, with the hope that the resulting art reminds viewers of what it was like to play.

Trojan B

In your experience, does the conceptual illustration industry have limits?

I'm not sure it does. It's changing rapidly. Editorial is dying a slow death, but the commercial need for clever visuals that depict difficult concepts will always be there. Maybe NFTs will continue to be a thing? It's anyone's guess. I'm looking forward to finding out.

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