• Bridney Casillas

Realism & Soulful Expression: An Interview with Jordan Jones

Connecticut-Based Visual Artist Explains His Love for Creating Pop Culture Portraits

By Bridney Casillas

31-year-old visual artist Jordan Jones sits stoically inside Gallery 66, an art gallery in New Britain, Connecticut.

Jordan Jones, also known as JJ the Artist, is a Connecticut-based visual artist known for his realistic, colorful acrylic portraits. He describes his art as reflecting "black figures or something referenced in black culture."

Lil Goddess, 2020. Acrylic. 24" x 30"

Jordan draws inspiration from Black popular culture icons ranging from hip-hop artists to sports icons. The 31-year-old is also well-known for his Instagram presence, amassing close to 10,000 followers and viewing the platform as both a visual diary and a way to network with other creatives.

The average price of his art is $300, although he does hold art sales. His pricing ranges from $100 to over $1,000 based on the size of each piece.

The popularity of his art events and live painting shows has allowed him to meet famous and rappers such as Jacquees, Dave East, and Gunna. His staple event, BAM, an acronym for a Blend of Art and Music is annually held in his hometown of New Britain. His art has also been critically acclaimed by several celebrities, including music mogul and producer DJ Khaled, who was personally gifted a portrait from Jordan in 2018.

"My art would fall more under the pop culture category, focusing on hip hop and sports as well as graffiti styles, animal portraits, and more."

Hailing from New Britain, Connecticut, Jordan says he grew up in an artistic household and grew up around his uncle and younger cousins, who are artists. As a child, Jordan enjoyed art classes in school and would draw for fun in his free time.

While attending the University of Connecticut, he originally majored in math education but changed his major to fine arts after his Freshman year. "I know it was something that I would always want to do and would enjoy as a career," says Jordan.

Rihdusa, 2020. Acrylic. 36" x 48"

After graduating college in 2012 at the age of 22, Jordan worked at a few graphic design agencies before deciding to pursue visual art full-time in 2015. He continues to work in the field of graphic design and is currently a part-time freelance graphic designer.

His unique art sets him apart from other contemporaries due to his realistic style combined with vibrant colors and his use of "soulful expression" in his paintings. Jordan also says his paintings "make the viewer feel like the subjects are looking right at them, ready to walk out of the canvas."

The first art piece he created was a portrait of a lion. Since creating his first-ever lion portrait, he learned to capture realistic features and incorporate eye-catching colors in his art.

His visually pleasing backgrounds allow his subjects to stand out just by using paint. His preferred medium to work with is acrylic.

"It is important for people to be educated on and celebrate black culture because they won’t be able to respect us as a people and our culture if they aren’t able to appreciate it," says Jordan.

On average, it takes between eight to fifteen hours for Jordan to complete an art piece, depending on the size and content. Three of his favorite artworks are Lil Goddess, a painting of Swizz Beats' daughter for an Instagram art contest held by the music producer and musician.

Another favorite of his is Ascension, a group portrait of rappers who passed away such as Nipsey Hussle, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, and China Drugz. Above the fallen rappers, cherubs play instruments.

His final favorite painting, Rihdusa is a portrait of singer-popstar Rihanna depicted as the mythical creature, Medusa. Three of his pop-culture artworks that have been well-received by art enthusiasts are Ascension, The Culture Card Collection, and his Kobe Bryant Portrait.

"Art allows me to relax my mind, sometimes it helps me think clearly, sometimes it helps me relieve stress... but it always helps me find and be myself."

His goal for 2021 is to book a paid mural gig and begin his tattoo career. He is also looking forward to creating more art and growing a bigger art following on social media.

Ascension, 2020. Acrylic. 60" x 48"

Follow Jordan Jones on Instagram @jj_the_artist and Facebook at Jordan Jones for updates on his art. Visit his website, jjtheartist.com to purchase art prints and merchandise. Visit his website, Culturexcards.bigcartel.com to purchase his Culture Cards.

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