Across the Pond: Jordan Smith Interview

Across the Pond: Jordan Smith Interview

British artist Jordan Smith spreads her wings as a recent art school graduate and finds new potentials in her artwork. In this recent interview with Jordan I sat down to find out what inspires her and how she discovers herself as an artist.

Jordan Smith is a recent graduate from University of Wolverhampton with her Masters Degree in Fine Art. This British artist is jumping head first into her life as an artist now that she has completed school. Her work usually involves different, multiple conflicts and oppositions that combine abstraction and the use of text. The multiple layers of painting are applied by staining the canvas to create her desired forms in an organic manner. Her work recently has begun to experiment more with the surrounding space at it looks to interact in the environment it is placed in.


1. Have you always been an artist?

Yes. From school and then university, I have always loved art and creating things, it’s the only thing I’ve wanted to pursue over anything else. I couldn’t imagine being anything else. 


 2. Are you a professional fine arts artists or do you do other work? 

I wish I could say that I am a full time artist; but I have a ‘day job’ to help pay bills! 

I currently work in fashion retail as a Visual Merchandiser. I wanted a job that allowed me to be still be creative and use my artistic skills. It is a bit like being a curator in terms of layout and display of products. It can sometimes sound glamourous but it’s very physical and I have a lot of unsociable hours. 

I also complete many commissions, which can vary from portrait drawings to leather jacket paintings for wrestlers. Anything creative that someone needs I like to be of assistance!


3. Did you study art in University, if so what was your concentration?

I studied a BA Fine Art at the University of Wolverhampton, and also went on to complete a Masters in Fine Art there also. I’m hoping to complete a Phd at some point in the future; but for now I want to just make a mass of work to find who and where I am as an artist. 


4. If you could meet any artist who would they be? 

Dead - Pablo Picasso

Alive - Gerhard Richter

Both are incredible influential, I am almost always in awe of their work when I view it first-hand so it would be great to discuss work and maybe see their studio. I find seeing works and artists within their studios so fascinating!


5. If you could take 6 months off to work on your artwork somewhere anywhere in the world, where would that be? 

Paris. In a large attic studio, with a balcony, above a patisserie - all of the croissants! Does it have to be six months?!  

I’ve only been to Paris once when I was about 17 for a school art trip. I literally fell in love with everything there; the buildings, the food, the galleries just the overall Parisian atmosphere. Which may be to do with the added glamorisation of the city through films and literature; either way it is beautiful and would love to work there at some point in my career 


6. What are you most inspired by? 

I am inspired when I’m in conversation with other creatives; artists are often seen to be in solitude, hidden away in their studio never to interact with people. Though I find it more motivating to be with other like-minded people discussing our work, art or anything in general. 

Films, music and writing are also influential to my practice. Overall, I think I am truly inspired to create when I’m happy, and have a general good life balance. I find dependant on what music I’m listening to when painting can have an direct influence on how and what I paint too. 


7. If you had any piece of advice to artists just starting their careers what would you say? 

Create! Stop overthinking and make work. Sometimes striving for perfection and overthinking leads to not producing anything at all. Art is about progression and development; it is very rare that someone has success without a back catalogue of hard work. 

Having bad work is better than having no work.  You can’t talk about or improve on anything if you have no work.

-Saying that I think I may have to take my own advice from time to time!


8. Why do you prefer abstract compositions? 

I started out actually, painting and drawing portraits and figures; but after each new body of work I made, they began to develop into more abstracted figures. Which continued to just develop into more form-like; unrecognisable as figures (but with the intention of them still being figures while creating them). Now more so they have just become abstracts, while I experiment with installation/sculpture and painting.

I love it when they can be a little ambiguous and each person looking at them can all get a different response from them. The viewer brings themselves and their experiences into the painting, trying to decipher it. Rather than a typical figure or landscape where the artist has already given you the answers.  


9. What role does color play in your paintings? 

I use colours to help encourage the physical sensation of the work and to portray to the spectator of possibly the scale of the work (in terms of my larger pieces). The colours that I use are sometimes an unconscious decision or a factor from something I’ve been inspired by.

I’ve recently reduced the amount of colours I use in paintings too which I think it could be to do with the emphasis on the gestures or the sculptural aspect so that they weren’t ‘too busy’. 


10. What is it like to be a female artist? 

I used to think labelling myself a ‘female artist’ would automatically brand my work in a stereotypical way (anti-man, body issues); but to me I was just an artist making work, my gender didn’t really come into it. 

Having a gender neutral name can often lead people to assume that I am a male artist. This affects me at some level, I don’t know entirely know why this is; as I feel I want people to know my paintings are made by a woman. Maybe it is to do with the male dominating Abstract Expressionists which my work can often sit quite close to in similarities or that I am a female and them viewing it as male might change their viewing experience of my work? I’m not sure I’m still trying to work it out.    

I do feel happy to create work as a female artist; but gender doesn’t really come into it when I initially create the work.  


"Stop comparing yourself to others."

-Jordan Smith