BY MATT TUCK
The Salish Tribe’s own Javan Jordan spoke with Wicked Monkey about his passion for designing covers and what it takes to make it in the competitive world of comic art.
“Life is art for me,” Jordan said. He had been signing copies of The Department of Truth #12 and working on a commissioned piece at one of the biggest comic conventions in the world, New York Comic Con. “I feel like I’m just living art.”
Like many artists, Jordan’s life has revolved around creating artwork for much of his life. As a teenager on the Salish Native American reservation, he found himself drawing and doodling before enrolling in graphic design courses at Salish Kootenai College. From there, the world began to open to him.
After Jordan started his career in the world of rap and hip-hop, he has become a rising star in the comic world. His cover art is making waves in the collecting community, particularly his work on The Department of Truth. His homage to Nirvana’s Nevermind album for Department of Truth #11 was a sell out, and the Marilyn Monroe DOT #12 has been on fire.
Jordan’s work isn’t limited to The Department of Truth. He impressed comic fans with his covers for Last Ronin, Something is Killing the Children, Ice Cream Man, House of Slaughter, Army of Darkness: 1979, and more.
And he’s just getting started. At New York Comic Con, Jordan spoke with Wicked Monkey about his art, career, and roots.
HOW DID YOU EVEN GET TO THIS POINT?
To this point, it’s been crazy. Earlier this year, you know, I’ve always done graphic design for the rap industry. I’ve done stuff for Snoop and Kendrick Lamar’s label and Strange Music.
WHEN WAS THAT?
My whole life, you know what I mean? Since probably I was, like, 18 or 19, I’ve been doing graphic design.
Snoop, I got to design his outfit for a music video. That was probably three or four years ago. The music video is called “Dis Finna Be a Breeze.” So if you’ve got YouTube, go check that out. And then this year, it really clicked with me ‘cause I write comic books as well and I was like, “Well, I’m pretty badass with graphics. I’m doing all these music covers, so why don’t I try to do some comic shit? And I did. I knocked a few covers out just for fun. You know, some teaser fun, cool stuff, you know? I sent my portfolio - like attempt covers - to a few different retailers, and then it started hitting me, and I knew that I had some heat.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING COMIC COVERS?
Eight or nine months, and I’m already here. I went to Dallas Fan Expo with them [Comic Mint]. And I’ve done two little cons up where I live […] in Washington. I’m from Washington state.
HOW DID YOU GET ON TO DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH?
Department of Truth, that’s one of my favorite titles ever. It’s such a genius idea, you know what I’m saying? The Monroe was one of the first pieces I did. I was just in the flow with the book, and I feel like this would fit perfect with it, you know what I mean? Now we’re here in New York.
THERE’S SO MANY PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BE IN THE SPOT YOU’RE IN. WHAT KIND OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THEM?
If you feel like you want to do something, do it. Don’t sit around and think about it, and don’t think too hard about it. Just do it.
WHERE SHOULD AN ASPIRING ARTIST START?
They should start by sketching or if they want to go digital, which is how I do most of my stuff, get a little tablet or laptop or something and just practice.
DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL FOR THIS?
I went to college on my reservation. I’m from a little Native American reservation. I went to SKC, and they taught me graphic design - Salish Kootenai College. The tribe I’m from is the Salish Tribe in Montana. I’ve always been drawing and doodling and stuff like that, but there I really honed my craft and really like I had done photoshop in high school and stuff, but it had never really clicked with me. In college, it really clicked with me that everything is designed. Look around. Everything here is designed by someone. Everything is graphic design. Everything. Then I learned how much they make a year, and I was like, easy. You mean I ain’t got to do nothin’ but art? I’m sold.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO MAKE A LIVING DOING WHAT YOU ALREADY ENJOYED DOING?
There’s no better feeling. Even from the music, my whole life is just art. I feel like I’m just living art. Life is art for me, you know what I mean?
If you want to see more of Javan Jordan’s art or contact him, check out his site, The Illest Uminati.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.