Julinu: ‘Life is not a rehearsal… do what you can with what you already have and share it with others’

Illustrator, graphic designer and Weeping Silence drummer Julian Mallia aka Julinu on inspiration, music, art, and carbohydrate-based religious deities

Julian Mallia, aka Julinu, is a freelance illustrator, graphic designer and fine-artist specialising in meticulously-executed visual ideas. He was awarded the coveted AOI World Illustration Awards in 2016 and his work has featured in various local and international media platforms, and recently included in Bloomsbury’s ‘The Power and Influence of Illustration’, a book about contemporary illustration. He plays drums for metal band Weeping Silence and in April he launches his debut solo exhibition at Spazju Kreattiv, titled “Julinu’s Radioactive Ravioli” – a pop-surrealist oil painting exhibition presenting a strangely familiar alternate universe

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Regret not having slept earlier.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Design your life and create work that matters to you.

What do you never leave the house without?

My beard.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Introvert, creative, offbeat.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Ignoring the pressure to conform and trusting my gut-instinct. My highlight reel is on my website – but I think achievements are merely by-products of the lifestyle you pursue and not an end in themselves.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Magnificently terrible puns.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future” – Steve Jobs.

Apart from property and cars, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?


What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Life is not a rehearsal. You will never reach the idealised standards in your head - so do what you can with what you already have and share it with others.

Who’s your inspiration?

People who listen to their inner voice, find their calling and pursue it without trampling on others.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Coming to terms with the fact that hard work and personal sacrifices do not guarantee tangible results. In fact sometimes they lead to failure which propels you to something else years later. That whole process can be a bit disorientating.

If you weren’t an artist/illustrator, what would you be doing?

I would definitely shift into full-time drumming. Having said that, this aspect of my creative endeavours will assume a more visible role later this year with Weeping Silence.

Do you believe in God?

No. I do, however, own the gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – the deity of the only carbohydrate-based religion I know of.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Steven Wilson (ex Porcupine Tree) – described by The Telegraph as “the most successful British artist you’ve never heard of.” His music resonates with me on many levels and I would love to collaborate with him on album artwork or more ambitious audio/visual projects.

What’s your worst habit?

Going into hermit-mode.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

Sociable and sometimes actually funny.

Who would you have play you in a film?

A lobster on a treadmill in zero gravity.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Lack of empathy and lying.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

“Closure” by Opeth.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My drum kit.

What is your earliest memory?

A primary school teacher telling me not to draw outside the lines.

When did you last cry?

See if you can keep a straight face while listening to the beautifully soul-crushing “Heart Attack in a Layby” by Porcupine Tree.

Who would you most like to meet?

The hot singles in my area who are earning €5.000 weekly using this one weird trick that doctors hate. The internet keeps reminding me I should.

What’s your favourite food?


Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

I mostly follow Instagram accounts from magazines like Hi-Fructose, Juxtapoz, Superwrong, etc to find new artists and inspiration.

If you could travel in time, where would you go? 

It’d be awesome to meet the dinosaurs in person, I presume.

What book are you reading right now?

It’s the weekly digest from brainpickings.com at the time being. Right now I can’t really commit to a book without feeling guilty that I should be working on my exhibition.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

The power to find the right people to help me complete all visual art and music projects I have in mind.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Finish an animated (oil-painted) short film I have shelved, maximise my potential, be of some contribution to society, and have as few regrets as possible.

What music you are listening to at the moment?

It’s mostly either progressive metal, jazz/funk/fusion or classical piano. For instance, today I listened to Opeth, Leprous, Devin Townsend, Haken, Vulfpeck, Hiromi Uehara and Satie.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

In the shower I listen to myself agreeing with my own arguments. When I’m practicing drums (my version of working out) I listen to the soothing, reassuring pulse of the metronome.


Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming exhibition and art work?

“Julinu’s Radioactive Ravioli” will be my debut, solo, oil-painting exhibition wherein I’m assigning alternative visual interpretations to familiar notions or elements from pop culture. It will launch on 26 April at Spazju Kreattiv Space C (upper galleries) and will run until 26 May 2019.

In this project essentially I am merging techniques from the traditional fine art world with a more cynical, contemporary and idiosyncratic outlook - to explore the hazy overlap between verbal and visual language. The work can probably fall under the category of Pop Surrealism and there’s a strong element of deadpan humour and graphic wit. The work is rather playful but on closer inspection the paintings can reveal multiple layers - where the implied narratives or social commentary can be a bit more thought-provoking.

E.B. White is attributed to the saying, “Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better but the frog dies in the process.” Perhaps it’s the same with art?