A few months ago I decided that I
wanted to interview my fellow artist friends to not only learn more about their work, but to learn more about
what inspires them, and what drives their creativity. I decided that my first interview would be with someone that I have worked with a lot in the past, and plan on continuing to work with in the future; Jordan Witt. She's been in a few of my major series both
as my muse and model (Both Ophelia series, Whatever Mom, Soft Water and Instax X VSCO )
Brendan Patrick: I'm gonna start the
interview off by saying I can't stop
listening to the new Taylor Swift CD.
Jordan Witt: I'm VERY sorry
BP: I know, I feel nuts. On the topic of music, is there any one band, or performer that has had a large impact on your life ?
JW: Regina Spektor has always been and will always be my favorite. Listen to"Loveology" and tell me that isn't one of the most beautiful songs you've ever heard.
BP: Yeah Regina has a huge soft spot in my heart and she knows exactly how to make me feel all the things. Ode to divorce was my jam along with Samson.
You're going to school in Philadelphia right ? What're you studying and where?
JW: "8th Floor" happens to be my
favorite. And yes I am working in the
Illustration department at the
University of the Arts in center city.
BP: I've had the pleasure of seeing some of your work, was there anyonegrowing up that inspired you to do
illustration ? Any one piece that is
the end all favorite of yours by
anyone? Also what drew you to want to
study at UArts ?
JW : I really don't think I could pick out one illustration that stands by itself, but I grew up with
Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories Treasury
(thanks, Mom), and Stephen Gammell's
illustrations have collectively been
the most influential to me wanting to
make art. I think looking at them was
the first time I had ever considered
the use of different mediums. On a
similar note, it's pretty impossible to find reasonably priced copies of that book and I'm thankful I've taken such good care of it, because I still use it for inspiration.
I took a tour at UArts knowing I wanted to study illustration, so when we toured the senior studios on the
seventh floor I was sold. I felt really at home in that place.
BP : Those illustrations are really
amazing and I feel like they're really creepy and aren't like "so spooky on this season of American horror story"
also they're so well executed that I
remember them clearly now and I haven't seen them in forever. Also if I hadn't tried to drown you in a large supply ofstilla creme blush I would of tried for that for Christmas. YOUR LOSS MAN.
That's exactly how I felt when I touredmy school, I felt like I belonged and
that really helps when you're making a huge decision.
We've worked together on multiple
occasions, each time a different style of work; when you're planning on doing personal work do you have a way to brain storm how you approach your work before it's made ?
JW : I was actually just discussing
this with someone earlier. Three years into art school, contemplating using
the ideating system we're taught (thumbnails, sketches, value studies, color
comps, final) is absolutely a no
brainer. I would never have gotten to
such a cut and dry system, however,
without being taught how. I just had to sell someone on the idea of going
through that process and I can't
imagine going about it any other way.
This applies pretty specifically to
illustration, but the general idea is
to form a routine that you understand. It's hard being creative on a deadline, so I rarely inspire myself to make
personal work (since enrolling), but I
think a lot of that is based around the fear of failure with every piece. I've done a lot of failing with my pieces-- in execution, never grades --and I've
been very zen about it. I'd rather failand learn right now.
BP : I can imagine that absolutely
helps when trying to sell your teacher on an idea without completely fleshing it out, especially if it's something
that when done, you're like "holy hell what am I doing?" I've been there with my work where in my head it's this
glamorous thing and then when done its a mess of color and sadness. I'd much rather fail and learn from something than not do it at all.
You do illustration, but have you ever considered doing any other artforms?
JW: It's also so important to weed out the not so great ideas. I used to always start an assignment and assert
to my teacher, with way too much
confidence, that I've found my idea.
I'd always get shut down and have to
make ten or twenty more thumbnails and I'd be salty about it and think I was
just sketching twenty lesser ideas, butusually I'd find my way to two or threebetter ones.
I actually considered studying
photography, or even industrial design, but by college application time, I was positive I needed to pursue
illustration. Of course fibers is
always going to be something I play
with, because one of my closest friends graduated from that program and taught me so much about that realm, as did the rest of the 2014 fibers family. I spent more time loitering in those studios than any other place at my school.
BP: Your friend in question introduced me to your work (because it was in my bathroom and I didn't even know who had taken the photographs) and it was
actually quite amazing.
Like I've said, we've worked together
on numerous occasions, and we almost
became Uarts homecoming rulers (but youturned it down) which of the series
that we've worked on had been your
favorite ? Any funny stories you'd liketo share about any of the shoots ?
JW : Oh right I forgot you had some of my pictures there! Thank you!
Oh I'm torn, because Ophelia of the
Waters was my favorite one to shoot,
but Soft Water had my favorite results.
I think it's amazing that for both
Ophelia shoots, we were attacked by
animals in some way. For the Drowning
Girl, I just remember the bouquet
having very threatening spiders in it, and the two of us screaming in the
water while something at the deeper end of the creek nipped at my ankles (freshwater eel? Snapping turtle?Great white?The dark lord Satan?). And I'm still
shaken by the field from Ophelia of theWaters because we encountered brown
recluses, a spider the size of my hand, and a very angry swarm of hornets, which were for some reason attracted to my car. I remember having to swerve
through a very strange neighborhood of small mansions to lose them. Overall,
a pretty fun time though.
BP : I really didn't think soft water
was one of your favorites, I'll have toremember that for the future ! And yeah of course, I was oddly surprised when I found out you took them ? And had a
rolliflex camera as well!
I'm not going to let you take the fall for the screaming during the Drowning
Girl Ophelia photos; I screamed much
louder and probably cried the whole
time because I'm very professional and satan was nipping at your ankle and I thought a snake was gonna eat me.
The hornets on the other hand; we were both scared shitless.
One last question; favorite movie and
movie genre ?
JW: Ooh ugh that's too hard, I'm
flighty. I can't pick, but I will say I just saw "Nightcrawler" and
Jake Gyllenhaal scared the shit out of me. Favorite movie genre will always behorror.
BP: Jordan and I recently watched the
taking of Debora Logan or whatever it's called on Netflix; it's worth watching if only to laugh your ass off.
I'm currently working on something very colorful for the new year and I'm looking forward to working with Jordan on that project as well.
Thanks for checking in! Until next time