Circle Of Hope: How A Raw Reaction Became A Sign Of Solidarity | WYPR

Circle Of Hope: How A Raw Reaction Became A Sign Of Solidarity

Nov 14, 2015
Originally published on November 16, 2015 6:40 pm

In the aftermath of the coordinated terror attacks on Paris, people around the world have been taking to social media to share their grief and show support for the French people.

One image, in particular, has become a kind of icon of international solidarity: a simple, but powerful, black-and-white ink drawing of a peace sign — with the Eiffel Tower at its heart. The picture popped up online last night, and since then it has been shared, liked, tweeted and retweeted as people attempt to cope with the tragedy.

It has become known as the "Peace for Paris" symbol. And its creator, illustrator Jean Jullien, awoke Saturday morning to discover that it had gone viral.

"Last night I was about to go for dinner," Jullien, who was out of the country at the time of the attacks, tells NPR's Michel Martin. "I turned on the French radio. I heard that it was an attack, and my first reaction was to draw."

What he produced ended up being raw, minimal and resonant.

"It's this sort of moment where you don't necessarily try to understand everything coherently. It's more of a state of shock and sadness and anger and all these very sort of raw feelings. So for me, it's just sort of trying to summarize these feelings in one image with my way of reacting," Jullien says.

"I shared it online as a reaction, not really thought through at all."

His original tweet has since been retweeted more than 49,000 times, and it has appeared on signs, memorials and even T-shirts in countries around the world — from Berlin to New Zealand. And, frankly, he says it has made him a little bit uncomfortable.

"You know, it's putting me in a spotlight that I don't necessarily want to be [in], because I don't want to benefit from this exposure, in the sense that it's a tragedy first and foremost," Jullien tells Martin.

Still, despite his discomfort, Jullien says his work achieved what he'd hoped.

"The idea was just for people to have a tool to communicate, and to respond and to share solidarity and peace. It seems that's what most people got out of it. So in that sense, if it was useful for people to share and communicate their loss and need for peace, then that's what it was meant to be."

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Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And finally, people around the world are taking to social media to share their grief and show support for the French. One image is being shared, liked, tweeted and retweeted in solidarity. It's a simple but powerful black-and-white ink drawing that popped up online last night. And we were able to reach the creator of this Peace for Paris symbol this morning after he woke up to find his illustration had gone viral.

JEAN JULLIEN: Kind of odd to see my work everywhere for such a tragic circumstance. Hello, my name is Jean Jullien, and I'm a French illustrator. I'm the artist behind the Peace for Paris symbol drawing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

JULLIEN: Last night, I was about to go for dinner. I turn on the French radio. I heard that there was an attack, and my first reaction was to draw.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

JULLIEN: It's a very (unintelligible) black-and-white drawing - ink and brush on paper, and it's a mix between the peace-and-love sign and the Eiffel Tower. I felt like there was a need for peace. That was the first thing that sprung to my mind, just we need a bit of peace. And I just sort of tried to combine both symbols - peace and Paris - into this graphic. It's this sort of moment we don't necessarily try to understand everything coherently. It's more of a state of shock and sadness and anger and all these very sort of raw feelings. So for me, it's just sort of trying to summarize these feelings in one image with my way of reacting. You know, that's we do with social media. We share and check that everybody's OK, try to understand what's going on. So I just shared it online as a reaction, not really thought through at all. And then things sort of quickly seemed to escalate. People reused it, retweeted it. You know, it's putting me in the spotlight that I don't necessarily want to be because I don't want to benefit from this exposure in the sense that it's a tragedy first and foremost. And the idea was just for people to have a tool to communicate and to respond and to share this solidarity and peace. It seems that's what most people got out of it. So in that sense, if it was useful for people to share and communicate their loss and need for peace, then that's what it was meant to be. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.