Nautilus Art Prints launched their store on March 30th with the release of Laurent Durieux‘s masterful take on Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth.’ Nautilus debuted the print with an open edition — for the following 72 hours how ever many posters sell will determine how many are made. No collector or fan will be left wanting — a gift for both Durieux collectors and poster fans who are mostly relegated to third party stores to find a print they’ve missed out on.
Nautilus is based in Brussels with a team of experienced designers guiding its way. Laurent’s brothers Jack and Thomas Durieux are joined by Phillipe Romain. The trio set out to bring European popular culture to a wider audience through an inspired core goal of curated limited edition posters.
Other print houses like Mondo and Dark Hall Mansion bring in artists from around the world to interpret American pop culture. When I asked Jack about Nautilus being purely a European affair he told me this about Nautilus’ approach —
‘We feel it’s interesting to see how a non-European artist would approach our popular culture the same way artists like Laurent, Vania Zouravliov, Martin Ansin or Killian Eng approached American culture.’
The tone of what Nautilus Art Prints is doing is the natural step beyond the common pop culture landscape — European popular culture is a part of our history, all of ours. Jules Verne is not just a European icon, but an author and visionary that belongs to all of us. This is an enlightened approach that favors the true rebels. History’s soothsayers. Before Steven Spielberg, there was Murnau and Fellini. Before Marvel and DC Comics there was Jean Giraud and Hergé. This is not just history — modern filmmakers and authors are doing amazing work outside Hollywood and the U.S.
CJ: The core concept behind Nautilus is quite exciting –the re-imagining of European popular culture. Your first print is Laurent Durieux’s excellent take on Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth.’ An ambitious first print that sets the bar high for quality as well as introduces the breadth of properties you could tackle next.
European culture is vast – from Beowulf and King Arthur to Stravinsky’s ballets and the operas of Mozart all the way to Fellini, Monty Python, and the modern films of Edgar Wright. How broad is the scope of Nautilus? Are there eras and genres you will be sticking to?
JD: We will not stick to any particular era or genre, only the quality of the title matters. However Nautilus will mainly focus on ‘image-oriented’ popular culture — that is cinema, literature, and comics. Maybe music LP covers. The word ‘popular’ will be pre-eminent in our choices. In other words, we should not be doing movies or titles that only 25 people in the world know about.
It’s interesting as an American to step back and consider the concept of Europeans creating artwork from their own popular culture. Looking at something like Laurent’s ‘Back to the Future’ print from his solo show at Mondo, that’s a very Hollywood / American film, yet it’s loved around the world.
He interpreted that film in a way that only he could, but you start to wonder about the films, books, comics, television, and music that kids are growing up with in places like Belgium that we know nothing about in the States. Will Nautilus be introducing possibly lesser-known European properties or region-specific tales that outsiders may not be aware of?
Absolutely! We’d love to get properties from Scandinavian cinema, Italian cinema, German, French obviously. Even Belgian, English, Irish, Spanish, Dutch, Balkan countries, etc. Again these need to resonate, if not worldwide, at least with us Europeans. Our goal is to spread European pop culture all over the world as there are so many great artists and creators here. We think it’ll be nice to do posters that won’t necessarily be blockbusters or cult horror movies from the ’70s.
It will hopefully be different but in a nice way. A different sensibility, although it would be very hard for me to tell you if such a thing exists in Europe. Is there a European identity? Is there such a thing as European sensibility? Germans say things differently than Italians, Swedish also are completely different from the English, etc. That’s what makes our approach so enthralling — we are trying to do something that to our knowledge doesn’t exist yet. It’s very rich and that’s what we find interesting.
I love that idea — as an American, an outsider, I love when someone like Martin Ansin does ‘The Night Porter,’ a ‘foreign’ film to us, but something that resonates with him.
Nautilus is a bit of a family affair, with your brother Thomas involved and Laurent providing the first piece. Have you three worked on projects before? How long has Nautilus been in the works?
We’ve been working together for the last 20 years or so on various projects. Nautilus has been in the making for the last few months, but we’ve had it in mind for a couple of years.
Along with you and Thomas, you have Phillipe Romain on board. All three of you have extensive design and corporate advertising experience. I’m guessing you each have a long list of talented friends and colleagues to pull from. Can we expect some surprises as far as artists go? New names and faces to the print world?
Your guess is correct. We don’t have hundreds of them, but still a few very talented people that we’re so anxious to introduce to the world of poster enthusiasts. We really hope you’ll be surprised by what we have in store. Definitely new faces and new names, but also some familiar names. This will hopefully be a different approach to illustration and design as well.
Will Nautilus be sticking with using only European artists? Will the printing be done locally, in Brussels? Is it a totally European affair?
No, we didn’t want to close ourselves to talents, whether be Americans, Asians, South Americans, etc. We feel it’s interesting to see how a non-European artist would approach our popular culture the same way artists like Laurent, Vania Zouravliov, Martin Ansin or Killian Eng approached American culture.
As for the printing, yes we will be printing here in Brussels because we absolutely want to control our work until the end and insure the highest level of quality. We do have some very good screen printers here and they live just next door to us which makes it super easy for us to follow the production of the prints. That’s the beauty of a small country like Belgium, everything is right across the street!
With all three Durieux brothers being graphic designers, how was Laurent chosen as the first artist for Nautilus?
Tom, Philippe, and I are such fans of his work, that it didn’t take us long to chose him over anybody else (including myself) 😉 Also, we wanted to introduce Nautilus to as many people as possible and this was possible thanks to Laurent’s recent fame in this niche and his Facebook address book. We will never thank him enough for that!
Outside of prints, will there be a physical gallery at some point? There was a mention of exhibits and events, any plans in place already?
That’s what’s planned anyway, we would love to do that and if things go according to plan, we will do everything to make it happen! As for events, we are currently in talks to do some screenings in a stunning art nouveau movie theatre in Paris. More to come.
What’s the plan as far as the frequency of releases? Are other artists and properties lined up?
You know, we’re freshmen in this business, and also will be in a learning curve sort of thing. So we don’t really have any sort of pre-planned frequency yet. We’ll go as it comes. We don’t want to do too many prints though, we just want them to be amazing, each one of them! That is our first concern at this point. However, the next print is planned, almost finished, and will be just great! We will soon reveal the artist‘s name and some teasers of the future print.
Nautilus took an interesting approach with its first release, making it an open edition that will be available to purchase for 72 hours. As a fan, this is exciting because I know I will be able to get a print and won’t have to face the disappointment of a quick sell-out. Some say an open edition can make the run of prints too large to make them collectible. Will this release method be a one-time deal? Were there any concerns about starting with an open edition?
We wanted this to be sort of a welcome gift to everyone. We are aware that this may put some people off and that’s why we are also giving away Laurent’s original ink in a lottery for the regular version buyers, I don’t believe this has been done by anyone in the past. We feel it’s a nice way to sweeten the deal. Damn, even I will purchase a print and will try to get the stunning original 🙂 ! This will not necessarily be a one-time deal, it will depend on the artist and license. We will also try to have this original lotto thing be done as often as possible.