Julien Mikton is a full-time painter, better known as Kilo Blimp. Through bold brushstrokes and vivid acrylics, he creates worlds of imagination inspired by his memories, life experiences, and everyday mundanity.
Julien is from Switzerland but has lived “all over the place”, in countries including Tanzania, Japan, and the United States. Although he spent a good portion of his formative years in Prague, he relocated to the US when he was 17, but returned to the Czech capital in 2020 to be closer to his family.
Originally a film and creative writing student, Julien lost interest in his chosen fields during college, partially due to the strict technicality that those areas required. But his creativity never diminished. Driven by the desire to express himself, he actively started drawing and painting some four or five years ago.
“I decided to start painting just for fun, more than anything else. But the moment I picked up the brush, I just immediately fell in love with it. And there was something about it that just made sense to me in a way that nothing else ever had,” says Julien.
From there on, Julien started dedicating more and more of his time to painting, practicing through exploration of different techniques and “learning through experience and making mistakes.” As someone who did not attend a formal art school, the thought of becoming a full-time artist did not cross his mind for the first couple of years. On the contrary, he planned to become a teacher.
“I quit my full-time job here in Prague in December 2021 and ended up taking a TEFL certification course for teaching. But for the first time in a long time, I had a full month off. So, I was just painting a lot and worked harder on it than ever before. Then people started approaching me and I managed to sell two or three of my paintings and also got invited to be a part of a group exhibition in Australia. That’s when I realized – oh, maybe I could actually do this,” remembers Julien.
Even though he still planned on looking for a teaching job at that point, commissions of his work became more frequent and Julien found himself becoming a full-time painter almost by accident, as he points out. However, there is nothing he would rather be doing, as painting is his greatest passion – the form of self-expression connected to his idea of happiness.
“Painting is a way for me to express myself and present a very innate part of my being and who I am as a person to the world, that I can’t do in any other way,” he explains. “I always relate it to that feeling of childlike joy.”
Indeed, Julien has gotten comments that his paintings evoke a childlike quality of the 1990s cartoons. A part of what inspires him is his memories and his life experiences, both old and new. While he used to use referential images before, he now paints mostly from imagination, relying on his perception of reality, his dreams, and everyday objects and situations.
He rarely takes any time off. He has already held a number of exhibitions in several well-known local spots, including Dobrá Trafika and Bistro 8. In addition, he has a YouTube channel and produces a podcast called “Open Studio”, where he invites young creatives for a conversation on their craft. He also runs his social media accounts himself. But the majority of his time – about 90%, as estimated by Julien – is dedicated to painting.
And while he prefers the freedom of working on his own projects, the main source of his income comes from commissions. “I can’t lie, commissions are less enjoyable. I don’t have my usual freedom when working on them. So, I adopted this point of view where I see it almost as a collaboration where I combine my interests with the ideas of the person who commissioned a painting. I now see it as being connected to another human being in a more intimate way,” says Julien.
Connectivity and creating a sense of community are the other focal points of Julien’s paintings. In addition to his individual work, he is also a part of the art collective called Fruit Juice. Together with expat artists Vinny Bonger and Big Kill, Julien is trying to expand the artistic community for expats in Prague.
“A part of my practice and my philosophy is the community-building aspect. I’ve always wanted to be part of a group of like-minded people, and the collective is a great way to do that. Every time we have an exhibition, we throw a big party and invite as many people as possible to try to connect with them in a meaningful way,” explains Julien. “And it keeps on getting bigger and bigger.”
The Fruit Juice collective has several upcoming projects, including two murals, a painting for a local coffee shop, an exhibition for Skautský Institute in June, and a Bob Ross-inspired workshop in July. But what’s next for Julien personally? Well, he is not quite sure.
“I am at a point in my career where I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of the same stuff for a long time. It’s gotten a little bit boring to me. I now really want to break free and do something different. So, right now, I am just doing a lot of experimenting.”
No matter his artistic direction, Julien’s focus remains on the community. He concludes: “I think we’ve already built a solid community of young creatives, but we want to expand it more and let young creatives know there is a space for them. So, come hang out with us!”