As a series of coordinated terrorist attacks were carried out in Paris late Friday, the Internet was flooded with images of horrific violence and dread, while Parisians, and the world, looked on in horror at a rapidly rising body count. But one image stood in defiant contrast to the carnage, and in doing so it quickly captured the mood of a nation that has grown tired of bloodshed. It was a simple sketch of the Eiffel Tower, France’s most famous symbol, wrapped in a circle to evoke the aura of a peace sign.
Jean Jullien, a French graphic designer living in London, created the drawing and tweeted it Friday just hours after the breaking of the news about the first attack. He added the caption, “Peace for Paris.”
Peace for Paris pic.twitter.com/ryf6XB2d80
— jean jullien (@jean_jullien) November 13, 2015
The simple image of hope spread like wildfire amid the chaos of the unfolding attacks. Jullien’s original tweet was retweeted more than 40,000 times, and the image flooded social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, with thousands thanking the artist for capturing the spirit of how they felt.
At one point, Twitter users were crediting the street artist Banksy with creating the image after a Banksy fan account shared it, the Telegraph in the U.K. reported. But it wasn’t long before Jullien was identified as the drawing’s true designer. Celebrities such as Pee-wee Herman and Erin Krakow also shared the image, crediting Jullien.
Jullien did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to his online biography, Jullien is from the city of Nantes in western France, but now works at his studio in London. The artist is a graduate of Central St. Martins and the Royal College of Art. And he has worked on some relatively high-profile projects, including doing the cover art for Jesse Eisenberg’s book “Bream Gives Me Hiccups,” which was released by Grove Press in September.
A quick look at Jullien’s portfolio shows his work is characterized by a whimsical style punctuated by cheerful cartoon figures and animals, including one piece featuring a dog blissfully munching on its own tail.
All of which would appear to make Jullien an unlikely candidate to create an image whose somber but optimistic air perfectly encapsulated what the world was thinking in the wake of France’s deadliest day since World War II: A small show of hope, any hope, was just what we needed.