Blabbering On and On About Self Doubt and the Beauty of the Creative Process n’ Junk
One of the things that I find most interesting about an audience watching an artist’s film or reading an artist’s work, is the fact that many of them are unaware of the preliminary work — the level of preparation and emotional investment that hides in plain sight, on the screen or on the page — in the nuance of a character’s mannerisms, the anatomy of a special effects set piece or the narrative transitions from scene to scene.
For the past couple of years I have been working on a series of graphic novels(of which I’m not quite ready to talk about in length), and quite honestly, it’s been emotionally and spiritually gratifying, but also, a stressful experience for me, not just as an artist, but as a member of the human race and most importantly, as a flawed and ignorant individual — absorbing aspects of the human experience, from all corners of the earth, that I otherwise wouldn’t have bothered to, if not for the need, has been a true blessing.
Two things to point out here:
One: as someone who is self taught, with no formal training as a writer or a storyteller, who has had to teach himself narrative structure, how to create tension, character development, thematic subtly, etc, I’m probably out of my fucking mind to even attempt to write something as massive and (probably) controversial as the story that I’m trying to tell, through a medium, that most who live in my region of the world would consider to be for nerds and children, over the course of six (possibly nine) separate extremely thick graphic novels.
Two: the sheer amount of research and study can at times be overwhelming — time that I’ve sacrificed much of anything resembling a social life, for — research that, so far, has consisted of everything from cannibalism to infanticide, drug addiction to molecular genetics, American history to Igbo culture, sexuality to adolescence, atheism to satanism, humanism to ethology, Norse fables to Egyptian myths, altruism to evolutionary psychology, slavery to patriarchy, the science of indoctrination to quantum computing — all of this for a gamble — for the sake of building an illusion: an elaborate lie designed to (hopefully) conjure up something compelling, beautiful and true, about ourselves, within the reader — something that will ultimately amount to what an avid reader will consume in about four or five hours — something that could very well end up being poorly received by…well…everyone!
There are moments when I feel like I’m wasting my time — when I’m at a lost creatively, or I feel like the story has lost its way. I think about how difficult it is to get published, much less get noticed. I think about how difficult the practice of illustration can be for me when so much of my brain energy has to go towards keeping up with my career as a graphic designer and making sure I have a roof over my head. I think about the stress that comes with opening your self up to criticism, especially when you tackle controversial subjects, and as a result I flirt with the idea of quitting.
I have to constantly remind myself of the necessity of failure, sacrifice, struggle and resilience in the process of producing anything worth while.
I dig through my seemingly endless collection of motivational quotes and philosophies by seasoned writers, directors, fine artists, and designers, that I admire, and quite often, the following instances stand out from the rest:
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things”
– Ray Bradbury
"If it’s a good idea and it gets you excited, try it, and if it bursts into flames, that’s going to be exciting too. People always ask, ‘What is your greatest failure?’ I always have the same answer—We’re working on it right now, it’s gonna be awesome!"
- Jim Coudal
Hillary Keane // KLUTZ
Album Single Cover Art
© Jordan Manigo 2014 / LVLRN RCRDS
Part one of an on going commission for HIllary Keane's forthcoming album, Gemini Syndrome.
So, I was commissioned to do some album art for local singer, Hillary Keane, a few months ago, and I’ve basically been attempting to craft the Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy of folk rock albums in terms of it’s visuals. And at first I thought I was out of my mind to tackle something that big with the limited resources and time that I have but after much trial and error, I think I’ve finally gotten the aesthetic I want to use for the project down pat, and the conceptual art more or less completed….aaaaand it only took me three months… haha
So any who…The name of the album I’m working on is called Gemini Syndrome. And I wanted to express the two sides of Hillary’s personality through a story involving two sister nymphs/gods who’s emotions affect the vast forrest in which they inhabit (which grew out of their umbilical cords…but more on that in a later update).
One sister is peaceful and restrained while the other is chaotic and prone to destruction. To illustrate this I created two sets of antlers, one that looks majestic, smooth, and curved, while the other is jagged and slightly damaged. Each set acts as a visual signifier of the physical and emotional nature of the nymph it is associated with.
The first phase of the project is to design and illustrate artwork to go along with her first single, Klutz. I figured a great way to illustrate the theme of the song was to showcase the jagged broken antler of the chaos nymph, and further express her wild and rambunctious nature through how unkept and tangled her hair is in her antlers.
- - -
After 2 hours of studying out how follicles get caught around solid objects…delicate strands of hair wrapped around antlers: done! (might add more later on).
…still a good bit to do…however…
… it is time to sleep!
sidenote: The time I’ve spent studying Jean “Moebius” Giraud’s body of work has been a wonderful and fulfilling experience. I’m truly grateful for all that he’s contributed to visual arts.
This is the start of something new for me…active blogging (or something close to it). I will be posting random sketches, musings, and other such nonsense on this site now - only of my own work though. You can view an archive of these posts under the the tag #seejordanblog.
Anywho…this is a small sample of concept art for an album art commission that I’m currently working on - a heavy mix of jewish religious iconography, fairy tales and surrealist imagery.
J Dilla passed away on the morning of February 10th, 2006 at the age of 32. He had suffered for over three years with an incurable blood disease, and had also been diagnosed with lupus. He left behind a body of work which will be loved and rediscovered for years to come.
- Stones Throw
Dilla LOVED donuts, so much so that he named his final album after them. Starting with the month of February, once a month, I’ll be posting a series of donut illustrations that I’ve been working on for a year or so now, each one representing a different album in which the late great beat-smith produced, and will be posting them here.
This project, #DONUTSFOREVER, is my tribute to the legacy of a man whose work sparked my love affair with music, almost 15 years ago.
Feel free to download this teaser poster or purchase a high quality print here.
Follow the project blog, #DONUTSFOREVER, to keep yourself updated on the project!
My Head Is In The Clouds
Decorative Type Illustration
© Jordan Manigo 2013
view full project here.
purchase prints here.
Client: SoulHood Productions
Job: Logo + Logotype
This was a logo commission for Soulhood Productions, a local record label. The idea was to create a mark that utilized an arraignment of musical equipment, as to mimc the skyline and city lights of an urban city block at night. The type is hand drawn - inspired by African American soul & funk music of the 1970’s and graffiti art.
Click here to view full project.
Client: Lovelorn Records
Job: Brand Identity
Lovelorn Records, is a small digital hip hop label in South Carolina. The brand collateral that I’ve created utilizes aspects of grafitti art, Russian constructivism, and spiritual symbolis to express the strong working class aesthetic, social consciousness, and spirituality, present in each artist’s music. The logotype is hand drawn and is meant to be read phonetically- type as an image - a symbol of strength and mason-like craftsmanship, that supersedes the spelling.
View the full project here.
Client: CERRA (Center for Educator Recruitment Retention & Advancement)
Job: conference booklet
The design uses type as imagery to communicate nurtured growth. Vegetation and gardening, as well as a little bit of whimsy and Super Mario World, were inspiration for the aesthetic.
Click here to view full project.
Client: CERRA (Center of Educator Recruitment Retention & Advancement) & Limestone College
Job: conference booklet
The design for this conference booklet was inspired by Swiss design standards. Simple, clean, and affective use of type, and minimalistic imagery.
Click here to view full project.