I’ve tried again and again to think of something better to start this article, but to be honest I can’t think of anything better than this: Fionn Jordan is simply kickass.
I mean, I have something of a bordering obsession on browsing artists and checking out illustrators, and I must say it’s not that often that I just stop and can’t say anything but “that’s just so cool“. And as much as I’d like to think of an eloquent intellectual reasoning for how much I like Fionn’s work, instead it simply all boils down to the fact it is just all very very cool.
(Also before I go any further here’s a short disclaimer: it’s an Irish spelling, and so it’s Fionn as pronounced ‘Finn’)
Spidery ink lines and intricate patterns does immediately remind you of one of his self-professed heroes; Victorian illustrator Arthur Rackham. However think more Arthur Rackham meets Tank Girl meets old Kung Fu movies: all joining to create a headily original and exciting style.
His range of work is also pretty impressive, and seems to have managed to skip nicely past the age-old illustrator trap of ‘finding one thing you can do well and never experimenting with anything else’. Instead even just scrolling through a few pages of his website alone there are examples of skateboard decks he’s designed, zines he’s worked for, noodle advertisements, a huge variety of different character designs, and on top of that a 40 page original comic he somehow found the time to make.
The short graphic novel Vinyara, is a tale of “a talented yet purposeless individual and her trials as she attempts to find herself” (or for a less formal introduction “just a lass killing people with a sword”), and the previews look astoundingly professional for someone who by his own admission”never intended to become a comics artist“. Rather what joins all of these diverse and varied interests and pieces is that, in his own words, “it’s just narrative illustration that I love … it doesn’t have to be comics, I’m writing a children’s storybook at the mo, with watercolours, and I like that too. As long as there’s a story involved, even if it’s just a picture of a goblin carrying a chunk of meat…where did he get that meat from? Probably that three legged cow in the background”.
And having only just graduated from the University of Cumbria I’m sure there’s a lot more work to come- in the near future alone at least Fionn is (amongst other things) working on a watercolour children’s book, producing a medieval board game, travelling around Japan and China and making a couple of zines. So, you know, I guess you could say he’s not lacking in too much creative energy or anything.
But I’ll leave you with links to his website, twitter, Tumblr, and also some short questions he kindly answered for me (see below). And I really recommend giving it a read, because well, he does just seem like a cool guy.
What or who would you say are your biggest influences?
John Bauer and Arthur Rackham. I absolute love that golden age of illustration folk lore stuff, it’s what I grew up seeing. There’s a book called The Little Grey Men – it’s brilliant – and I don’t know who did the illustrations for the version with the orange cover, but they’re in my mind till I die. Edmund Dulac, too. That’s the watercolour side of things.
The other side of things is that fineliner stuff I do, most of it’s black and white, like my comic Vinyara. Sergio Toppi, he’s my biggest influence for that. His Arabian Nights illustrations are the best, you should check them out actually. I think some manga stuff influences me more than I think…Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, Studio Ghibli of course, and Mushishi. And Hong Kong cinema, particularly Shaw Brothers movies.
Your penwork and draftmanship skills are really impressive, and it clearly takes a lot of time to create such detailed pieces- do you ever get bored or frustrated of working in such an intricate way?
I don’t get bored as drawing gives me a chance to think. I do too much. I think everyone does, just constantly doing things that your brain focuses on, even if it’s scrolling through facebook. Drawing’s good for me in that way, gives my mind a chance to do what it wants not what I make it.
Ahah, I’m not sure frustrated is the right word, I just feel a sense of unstoppable hopelessness when something is turning out crap! And I get cramp in my little finger, that is frustrating, actually.
What would you say if the proudest moment of your career or the piece of yours you like the most?
Well…I was picked to go to this big exhibition called New Blood and I graduated too. They’re important, but they don’t actually mean that much to me. There are two moments which really stick in my mind – they aren’t dramatic at all, but they meant something. So you know when you just get something, or it really feels right, like a picture or a song? There’s a musician called Historian Himself, he’s not very famous, so I’m really fortunate I found him. His music isn’t perfect but there’s something about it which gets me in the gut, you know what I mean? Anyway, at my final show, there was a woman and her daughter looking at my work, and I was milling around trying to do that socialite thing (which I hate). Eventually she grabbed me and told me how much she liked it, so I talked to her for a bit, and I could tell that she did really like my work. It’s not perfect either, I more than anyone think that, but I think she had that same feeling as I do about HH’s music. It felt really good.
The second thing is Historian Himself saw some of my comic pages and messaged me saying he liked them, that felt good too, like that little cycle had been completed.
What does the immediate future hold for you and your career?
Some or all of the following: A children’s storybook with watercolours, some more comics, the production and creation of a Hnefatafl-esque game called King Of The Hill, screen printed skateboards, probably a few months in Japan before I go to China and a series of documentaries where I play a caricatured version of myself and ride my unicycle. Oh, and a zine with some illustration buddies (Matt Boak, Robert Marshal, Ben Walton, Jonny Clapham). That’s gonna be really good, probably really bizarre, too.
And lastly, do you tend to listen to any specific music or podcasts whilst working at all?
Oh yeah, depends what I’m drawing. I usually work in silence on watercolour and ink pieces, not sure why. If anything, then Hedningarna or The Iron Horse (Scottish one not the American one).
I’ll stick on a Shaw Brothers movie if I’m doing Vinyara stuff, One Armed Swordsman, Clan Of The White Lotus, they’re wicked! That or oriental trip hop stuff Wy-i or Mujo. Also Takewon TakeL. Stereowon.