Eric Jordan’s paintings are intense. At face value, you may get the impression that his personality projects the same type of mood as what’s exhibited through artwork. But it’s quite the contrary. He’s very intelligent, and strategic, and those traits are balanced out with this extreme artistic hunger embedded in his psyche.
The beauty of Eric’s artwork is its rawness. It displays hip-hop for what it really is. There is nothing minstrel, or sadistic about his work. It’s a graphic revelation of the evolution, and the grassroots of all things that encompass the world of hip-hop, as dark as it may seem. And the music that he listens to while creating is the tool that facilitates the direction that the final product takes. So, if it just so happens that his hip-hop inspired paintings appear to be heavily intense, now you know why.
â€œThe next piece is always better than the last, and something may seem impossible at first, but itâ€™s important to look at it as a great challenge.â€
Format: How did you land your gig with XXL Magazine?
Eric Jordan: Basically, I landed the XXL job with pure persistence. When I was trying to get a break, I was sending my images out to Art Directors for a lot of different publications. Before XXL, I had a full page in VIBE magazine, but I was determined to get more work. What made my experience worthwhile with XXL, was the fact that the Art Director challenged my work. She was tough, and I literally had to go back to the “pencil and paper” method. She said she would keep me in mind for work, but I had to work on my “likeness.” The same day after we spoke, I started a painting of Big Pun.
I was still in school, so it took me a bit longer than usual to finish the piece, but when I was done I emailed her a jpeg, and called her to get her opinion; she said I made a major improvement and that I had reached her standards. I’m very thankful for that opportunity.
Format: Have you ever created an amazing piece by mistake?
Eric Jordan: Actually, it was a piece that I had done of 50 Cent. I didn’t do thumbnails or sketches or even have a plan prior to doing it. It was also the first time that I had ever used Corel Painter, which is the program I use to paint the portraits before I switch to Photoshop for the backgrounds. As I worked, the piece began to emerge. Now, itâ€™s the foundation of my current style.
Format: Where is the strangest place that an idea came to you, and what happens if you don’t have the tools to extract it?
Eric Jordan: Probably the shower! Sorry if youâ€™re a visual reader like me! There are always artistic ideas running through me. What made this crazy was the fact that I couldn’t document it. My process is usually logging the idea on my laptop or in my phone to help me keep track, then Iâ€™ll go execute it when I am ready. But, while I was in the shower, I obviously couldn’t do that. I used my finger to write on the shower curtain with the water that bounced on it (the shower curtain!)
Format: What’s your philosophy on following a formula where “creating” is concerned?
Eric Jordan: The next piece is always better than the last, and something may seem impossible at first, but itâ€™s important to look at it as a great challenge. Another important thing to remember is that art is based on originality.
Format: What did attending The University of the Arts teach you?
Eric Jordan: One major thing Art School taught me is that competition will always surround you. There is no time to relax because at that point, your opponent will rise and may even take your place. In conjunction, itâ€™s extremely important to separate yourself from any other artist. Like I said before, originality and individual style are the most important to success.
Format: Your creations illustrate a very dark mood, is this intentional?
Eric Jordan: When Iâ€™m painting, I try to match the mood of the artist’s music. A great example is the 50 Cent piece that I mentioned earlier. Whatâ€™s funny about that piece, is that initially, the background was white. But during a critique from my professor, he uggested that I make the background connect with the feeling I get when listening to his music, so I decided to make it dark blue and grey. It is intentional, but on the other hand, more of my recent pieces give off a slightly different mood.
The emotions of my central figures are darker, but I contrast it by making the background lighter. An example is a piece that I did called â€œLoza,â€ the only female portrait on my website. The background is full of pinks and purples. The same applies to the piece I did of Barack Obama.
Format: Are there other avenues in the arts that you would like to venture in?
Eric Jordan: I would like to move onto more commercial illustrations; large advertisements, like, billboards, or large posters displayed on buildings in New York. I’d probably lose my mind when and if that ever happens. But Iâ€™m into all types of work. Other than that, I have a great interest in films. I’m currently devising a plan on how to fuse my illustrative style with film.
Format: Are you interested in venturing outside of hip-hop inspired illustrations?
Eric Jordan: Of course! Hip-hop was my starting point because of my love for it and my personal connection to it, but, the passion I have for art exceeds just one subject matter. Like I said earlier, I just finished a piece of Barack Obama and I have an Ann Frank piece in my portfolio.
Being new and fresh while keeping personal style and creativity is what is important to me. With that, itâ€™s critical for me to take an interest in a myriad of different topics, genres and subject matter.
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