The Concordian spoke with the multi-talented artist and Concordia student about inspiration, overcoming creative block, and more
What makes an artist? Concordia’s very own Jordan Daniele, who is a painter, creative and artist, delves into this complex idea by peeling back the layers of his own work. Largely inspired by historical artists and influenced by Jean-Michel Basquiat-style expressionism, Daniele emulates a deliberate childlike approach to painting, citing “childhood is something everyone can connect with.” He feels it is important to remain a kid at heart.
TC: What inspired you to take up painting?
JD: I have been studying art history for four years now and I’m still studying it to this day. I’ve reached a point where I want to move on from learning about artists that already exist and become one myself. I’m still not certain I want to be an artist as a profession, but painting is something I enjoy, so I might as well explore that while I can. I think that because I’m a fairly reserved person that painting has given me an outlet to express myself in a way that comes most naturally to me. I’ve never been great at speaking up, but now, with my most recent work, it has allowed me to speak my mind on the canvas in a way that I never could with words.
TC: What would you like people to take away from your work?
JD: For me, it’s all about expression — what I’m going through, what I’m thinking. If even one person can connect and find solace in it, that’s what it’s all about. Even if my work can brighten someone’s day, add some positivity to their mood, that would be cool. When I was just starting out, I used to paint more abstract, random brush strokes, Jackson Pollock-type work. Then, my dad actually inspired me to branch out and venture into more figurative work. Before that, I had never really thought to have a message embedded in my work. My primary focus was more aesthetic-based, and finding the beauty in arbitrary brushstrokes. I wasn’t overly concerned with incorporating a definite message because it’s supposed to be subjective. I want people to connect with it the way they want. If they want it to have meaning then they can find one hidden in the brushstrokes — if they don’t, then that’s cool too. Everyone will have their own experience with it.
TC: How often do you face creative blocks? How do you overcome them?
JD: Actually, a few months ago, when we were in lockdown, I was painting everyday. At one point I was making five paintings a week. This went on for about a month. I would often go back and paint over those paintings too, so I actually created more than what’s physically out there. So in terms of creative block, sometimes I get stuck on figuring out whatC exactly I’m trying to portray or I get stuck wondering if it should have a meaning at all. Sometimes I won’t paint for a month if I’m particularly frustrated. It can really get you questioning your abilities when you get stuck like that. I’ve caught myself thinking “Am I even good at this anymore?” But I learned that when you get in that headspace, it’s best to just take a break. Once you clear your head, you just have to paint — just go for it and trust that something special will come out of it.
TC: What themes do you find yourself drawn to?
JD: I listen to a lot of music. So, I like to incorporate lyrics into my work. Music plays a big role in my inspiration. I could do a whole painting filled with quotes from a song if it resonates with me. My work has a lot of jazz influence as well. I like to include the actual instruments in my paintings. Sometimes, something as simple as a sound or phrase that gets stuck in my head can spin off and evolve into its own theme and inspire me to explore something new. There isn’t really a single thing that I find myself drawn to, it definitely depends on my environment and what catches my attention, but music and sound are consistent themes.
TC: Can you tell me a bit about your favourite piece?
JD: It’s hard to say because I’m my toughest critic. I’m around my work so often that I’m constantly nitpicking the details of it, so it’s constantly in flux; I can love a painting while I’m creating it and a month later I’ll change my mind. Right now though, I’ve been working on this series of paintings with a bunch of flowers, and it’s my favourite because of the meaning behind it. I start off with quick brushstrokes in the shape of a flower, then I go over it with a more precise outline of it. The contrast of the neat precise outline to the quick and messy shape of the flower is representative of us: people in society. We’re just like flowers. Even when we’re feeling messy and when we’re missing petals, someone may still look at us and see beauty like we do with flowers.
TC: What does being an artist mean to you?
JD: Anyone can be an artist. Of course, it does take some degree of skill for certain types of artwork, but mostly it takes a specific mindset. You have to be ready to take the rawest emotions and thoughts you experience and translate [them] into something tangible. There are so many people who are artists and don’t even know it yet because they haven’t given it a shot. At the end of the day, you just have to be creative and express yourself to the fullest.
For more information about Daniele or to explore his work, please visit his Instagram page @artistjordandaniele.
Visuals courtesy Jordan Daniele