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Muddy Meets: Artist, Jordan Amy Lee

Jordan Amy Lee's work is bold and minimal with a graphic feel. As artist in residence at Una St Ives, she tells Muddy about her inspirations, processes and career highlights.

Continuing our Artists & Makers series we catch up with Jordan Amy Lee, an illustrator and artist whose work incorporates bold shapes, minimalistic compositions and delicate textures. She has been artist in residence at Una St Ives during June and July.

Jordan has been working with the resort to create a body of work since 2019. The exhibition of her commissioned pieces for Una St Ives were shown alongside a wider body of her work. Jordan’s artwork for Una depicts the quality of life across the St Ives areas and includes her unique interpretations of Carbis Bay, Porthmeor Beach and St Ives harbour.

 How did you become an artist? 

I find it hard to answer this question without sounding cliche, but it’s just something I’ve always done and have never wanted to stop doing. I’ve always made art and been creative, and upon learning about Illustration as a viable career option when I was around 17, my goal ever since has been working towards becoming a full time illustrator / artist.

Can you sum up your work in a sentence? 

An attempt to capture and express the beauty of everyday things.

What’s your ideal working environment? 

Somewhere relatively quiet but with music playing (always) and lots of prints and artwork plastered everywhere for me to look at when I get sick of looking at my own work. Lots of plants and natural light is always very appreciated too.

Tell us a little about your inspiration and process

Most of the time I’ll just see something when I’m out and about, or even at home, and get really drawn to it for some reason. I’ll take a photo of it if I’m out, then do a few simple sketches of it — usually stripping it back and playing around with perspective. I describe the process of creating a final illustration as ‘digital collage’, as I  create all the individual elements of the piece by hand through cutting up paper, painting, mark-making and printmaking, then scan everything in and piece it together on photoshop. I like this method as it enables me to spend a long time perfecting and tweaking a piece before I decide it’s finished.

What are your favourite Cornish inspirations? 

Having lived in Cornwall for three years I’d say the sea and the landscapes are an obvious but crucial inspiration. Although they don’t feature heavily within my work, both put me in a relaxed and creative mindset and give me a particular lust for life which drives me to create. I also love how quirky and wonky a lot of Cornish towns are, they’re almost illustrative in themselves.

What are you working on now?

I recently finished illustrating a book which I can’t talk about yet but it comes out later this year and I’m super excited about it. Other than that, I’m doing a ceramics course at the moment which has given me a real urge to start making more things with my hands. I really want to start making jewellery at some point…

Where can we see your work?

I have just come to the end of an exhibition at UNA St Ives. Other than that, I post regularly on Instagram and I have a website and online print shop.

Do you have a favourite piece of one that holds strong memories? 

I really couldn’t pick… although looking through my work I’m always particularly drawn to the illustrations I’ve done of food. 99% of the time they’re based on actual things I’ve eaten at some point, so they hold pretty strong memories of where I was, what the food tasted like, cooking the food etc. It’s like having a diary in a way.

What other artists inspire you?

So many! I tend to be drawn more to design than to art a lot of the time, or more specifically artwork created by designers. I think they have a magical ability to make things look great and aesthetically pleasing. Paul Rand is a big one for me, as well as Saul Bass and Alexander Calder. Favourite artists include Warhol – I admire his ability to find beauty in the everyday, Matisse for his gorgeous cutouts, and Saul Steinberg and his clever line drawings, one of which I got as a tattoo recently! I also have lots of creative friends whose talent and passion inspire me always.

Marilyn Diptych 1962 by Andy-Warhol © Estate of Andy Warhole Photo © Tate

Career highlights so far?

Getting my first ever commission on the back of a trip to New York with Falmouth Uni was a great start to my career. I was also part of a panel of four recent illustration graduates at Apple in London a few months after graduation, which was pretty surreal. Now that I’m a few years in, the biggest highlights for me are probably the smaller things – seeing my work out in the world, people buying prints from my shop (especially when they send me photos of the prints up in their house!) and just discovering the places my art can take me. Being able to go down to Cornwall each year to visit UNA and St Ives, and continuing to establish my connection with Cornwall and its art scene has certainly been a particular highlight. 

 See more of Jordan Amy Lee’s work at jordanamylee.com

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