Exploring Canvas Caverns: Joey Jordan

joeyJoey Jordan is a freelance illustrator of fantasy and science fiction. For a glimpse at her work, just look at the top of this web page–that mad scientist is a Joey Jordan original. Her work has also been seen in Jim Baen’s Universe, The Drink Tank, and Renard’s Menagerie, among others. If you want to see more of her art, check out out her website here. In addition, she’s on Facebook, where she’s always interested in meeting new people, and there she runs the group called the Con-Goer’s Inn.

David Steffen: Thanks for joining us, Joey.

David: At what point in your life did you realize you were going to be an artist? Why not a butcher, baker, or candlestick-maker?

Joey: When I was a real young child, prior to kindergarten. I had always seen myself as an artist and wanted to do it as a career till I was older and thought that it could only be a hobby. Then back in 2004 I decided that if I were to live a happy life I would have to do what I love, so I started to fiddle in art again. Then in 2007ÂI came into some “Luck money” and filled the studio that my husband made for me. He is really supportive and even sends me to my art room if I am drifting from a piece or allowing to many things to distract me.

David: What appeals to you about fantasy and science fiction illustrations, that you choose to focus on that aspect of art?

Joey: Even my earliest pictures were of fantasy and science fiction. I have always had an awesome imagination and found traditional art boring to me… except for a few landscapes here and there but I still always brainstormed the idea of turning them into a fantasy or sci-fi piece.

David: When you create a new piece of artwork, do you create a backstory for the image or does the image exist in isolation?

Joey: The piece tells me it’s story, it’s like it has it’s own life and being, I am only deciphering it. Well that is with the “flash images” the full ideas that I get in an instant flash, then I have partial ideas where I may only see a background or character then I have to find their perfect match. Back to the Q: Sometimes I have the full story, sometimes only the part of it the image wants me to know… so I never feel like I truly make it up, it’s more like it’s just there.

David: As an example, the black and white image on your home page really draws my eye. Can you tell us the story behind that one?

Joey: That was actually an experiment in contrast, the woman in the foreground is the only item in the picture to have true black and true white, everything else is 10% grey to 90% grey.ÂIt started with a partial idea, the woman, then I had to decide what the best backgroundÂwould beÂto express the idea. With this one it is one of those pieces where I myself can not read the full story from her, in some pictures I understand the full story behind it, this was only a partial idea. The main character has this ability or curse, where when she writes the name of a person on paper it becomes a death spell. I do not know why she does it or if she has to do it, I don’t think she is evil but I don’t know why she does not stop. She may be an assassin. On the paper pieces I wrote the name Kioki in Japanese, which means happy child if I did it right, though some of the pieces are ripped. When the girl reads her name the demon will take her. In a way it also felt like she was in the past and almost going back to kill herself before she goes on to become what she is.

David: I think your illustration for Diabolical plots (partial image at the top of the page, with the full image under the “Diabolical Art” tab) turned out really well. Do you have anything you’d like to tell us about that?

Joey: The Diabolical Plots project was a fun project. I had a lot of fun figuring out the lighting and adding in all of the little writer related details to the writer mad scientist. Like his tie which says #1 writer, the stack of writer help books, The top book is Painless Grammar by Rebecca Elliott, Ph.D., and the word count machine attached to the computer on the right side.

I made a head set for the poor test reader, that forces their eyes open so they can read the unedited manuscripts and the brain reader cap reads their honest responses and finds flaws in the story so you crazy diabolical writers can take over the world with your perfect creation of speculative fiction and science fiction. You guys already work in mind control and subliminal wording right, because I am already addicted to your short stories!

David: When I write I go through about half a dozen drafting stages to help work out kinks in the writing. Do you use a drafting process with your art, or do you just know what you want it to look like right away?

Joey: If its a flash image in my head or an idea I do a real quick sketch and write down any key notes on color to trigger the image again at a later time. I have so many images in my head and have held some of them for years, though it’s great that I can still remember them years later, or trigger their memory with a sketch and note. It kind of feels like everything I look at gives me ideas. My husband thinks it’s funny when we pass a cliff and I mention the awesome brush strokes that would be if done in oil or how that would make an awesome picture with a character right there.

IÂdo pre sketches and laying out all of the problems that may arise so that I get it right the first time.

I also sketch everything out on the paper or canvas prior to putting down the detail and or color to make sure it is balanced.

David: What’s your favorite art medium?

Joey: Berol Prisma color pencils on Bristol, but I am moving to oil and liquin or oil and turpentine with linseed on masonite or artboard.

David: Can you tell us some of your goals for the future? (Such as trying a new and challenging type of medium or a goal to get published in a particular venue.)

Joey Jordan: Here in a month or so I am going to submit to Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. When I have a kick *** portfolio in oil I want to hit up Baen books for a cover, Tor, Spectrum, Analog, DAW, Wizards of the Coast…

David: What is your ideal working environment? For example, music or not, amount of uninterrupted time, etc.

Joey: Music adds a lot to the feel of my work. If I find a song or sound that fits the feel of the piece then I continue to play it while I work on the piece. I try toÂpush the music into the piece. I work best uninterrupted and though I am a people person and have a great attitude, when I am working on a piece and am totally into my “art mood” I sometime feel like I come off as if I am cold and uncaring at the time, I only want to be left alone to work on my picture. Everything else is a distraction that prevents me from finishing the piece and the longer I am held back from making that piece the more painful it seems.

David: How long does one piece of art typically take from conception to completion?

Joey: If I work it without too many distractions then mostly 3 days with larger works going up to one week.

David: If you could give one piece of advice to an illustrator trying to break into the market, what would it be?

Joey: Enter Illustrators of the Future!

David: If you could give one piece of advice to a beginner artist, what would it be?

Joey: Practice working your chosen medium until you feel you truly control it… Though now I will veer back toward the Illustrator style… tell a story with your images… make the viewer feel what you feel.

David: I know you enter your art in the Illustrators of the Future contest. What do you do to prepare an entry? Do you work on pieces specifically for the contest?

Joey: I do work on pieces specifically for the contest, but then the wonderful thing about that is you can use an illustration over and over. First I enter it, then when the time is up I can submit the image to markets as a stand alone piece, use it in my portfolio, and sell the original. You get so many uses out of the one piece, why not start its journey as an entry into a contest with a ton of wonderful benefits.

David: You regularly attend conventions, and have been the guest of honor at one convention. Do you have any advice for those of us who’ve never been to one?

Joey: Go! It’s wonderful, you get to hang out with lots of fans of the genre in one place, authors, illustrators, publishers, actors. I wish I hadn’t put it off so long… On face book my husband and I have a group called The Con-Goer’s Inn where we have lists of conventions in the discussion section and links to other con info.

David: Who’s your favorite illustrator?

Joey: IÂdon’t think I would say IÂhave one particular favorite,ÂthereÂare alot of truely wonderful pieces out thereÂthough I am able toÂtell quite a few artists by their style. I guess if I were to narrow it downÂa bit I wouldÂpitch Todd Lockwood, Dan Dos Santos, Donato Giancola, John Picacio and the late Keith Parkinson.Â(In high school I loved “Rift’s” and Keith did alot of my favorite covers)Â But I will add that their are so many wonderful works out there that I mostly look at the individual piece.

David: What’s your favorite illustration (done by someone else) that you remember?

Joey: The piece that pops into my mind right now is one by Dan Dos Santos, I don’t know the name of it, but it is a piece with a young lady dead on the ground, dry snow covering the stones a bit and she is wearing a green shirt and holding a green new growth. Another woman is above her in a white cloak touching the dead girls forehead.

David: What was your favorite vacation and why?

Joey: I tie art into my ideal vacation ideas too, It’s more of a, “that will be an awesome place to get reference photos” I want to go toÂTiahuanaco, Bolivia for reference photos for my alternate prehistory paintings. So I can come up with my own ideas of what the place was in the past and to have accurate layout photos to alter and try and paint how I thought it hadÂlooked in the past.

On the norm, we go camping alot, go to the westcoast beaches (went to Virginia Beach once too), and check out little cafe’s and shops in artsy towns here in WA. Though If we are going anywhere that may have a great reference photo, I’m on it!

David: What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

Joey: It’s hard to narrow down to single activities, horseback riding, hiking and exploring waterfalls and caves (There is a freaking awesome one hidden in Cinebar WA bordered both sides by private land… knew one of the people till they sold… It was 100′, two sections of about 50 feet with a pool in the middle and at the base. There was a boulder I would climb onto near the middle and the force of the water would blow may hair back behind me. I had long hair back then.) and aggressive skating…

David: What’s your favorite indoor activity?

Joey: Painting! And drooling over DickBlick’s art catalogue… imaging the damage I could do with some of those art supplies… I also love Cirque du Soleil and live acts with a similar feel.

David: What was the last book you read?

Joey: TheÂactual last book I read was Chariots of the Gods, though Shaun my husband has started me on a few to read by a fewÂauthors that I have met at cons. I don’t really make alot of time to read though, except when I get projects and that he thoughtÂwere good, includingÂThe NameÂofÂthe Wind by PatrickÂRothfuss, I hope to pick up a few tradeÂpaperbacks get to read a story to illustrate before others have read it, except the editor of course, kind of a cool feeling.

David: Your favorite book?

Joey: P.C. HodgellsÂÂ Dark of the MoonÂÂÂ TheÂfantasy by P.C. not the sci-fi one that was turned into a movie. Though the sci-fi had a good idea with the Bermuda triangle being a teleport area to a triangle on the dark side of the moon.

My favorite series is the Death Gate Novels Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

David: Who is your favorite author?

Joey: Why David, you of course. Kind of likeÂthe favoriteÂillustrator, I don’t really feel I have one exact author, it’s to each work. Again though I will name off a few, Patrick Rothfuss, Mark J. Ferrari, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Anne McCaffery (I grew up on her Pern, even named a pet mouse Jaxom), Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, see you evil man, I can’t really narrow it down to one,ÂI could keep going but for the sake of the readers I am going to stop now.

David: What was the last movie you saw?

Joey: Dragon Ball Z resurrection and right before that the Watchmen …. on demand. The last movie in theatre IÂsaw was The Day the Earth StoodÂStill. Though I don’t watch alot of movies, I mostly spend my time looking up art references and sketching ideas out. Hey it’s fun time for artists…

David: What is your favorite movie?

Joey: For fun I have always like Labyrinth with David Bowie… Loved the new Star Trek restart movie.

David: Do you have any upcoming shows, cons, publications we should check out?

Joey: Joey: I decided to work on some of the oil tips I have received so that I can put on a high level focused show, so I will not be attending any cons till OryCon, RadCon and Norwescon. I also plan on doing WorldCon when it’s in Nevada in 2011.

I intend to go to FoolsCap in WA Saturday only. I will probably be on the Mythical Botony panel, maybe another one or two. (I have to contact programming)

David: Can you tell us a little bit about your next big work in progress?

Joey: I am starting a series of oil paintings with an ancient Minoan and Atlantian theme, I want to pitch the idea as a coffee table book of art and stories of alternate prehistory ideas that I have gotten from dreams, flash images, and ideas from ancient times. Alot of Ancient Astronaut themes.

I also have been asked to work children’s book illustrations for 2 different authors and I believe I shall do it.

David: Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions, Joey. I’m always eager to check out the next Joey Jordan original!

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David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. If you like what he does you can visit the Support page or buy him a coffee! He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work . David is also the editor-in-chief here at Diabolical Plots. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on BlueSky for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

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