Fantastic Plastic - The Art of Jordan Speer

While doing a bit of shelf surfing in Gosh comics, London, an A5 size comic caught our attention.  The artwork was neon bright and toy like, shining out like a lazer beam amid all the other indie comics.  Its called QCHQ and is the creation of American comic artist, Jordan Speer.  He took the time to talk to Redbird about his work.

 

Have you had a good response from UK comic fans?

To be honest, most of the feedback I get is through social media and I can't always pinpoint where it's coming from.  That being said, I have received some very kind, encouraging emails from people in the UK!

 

You studied painting but your work is almost entirely digital, what brought you to making digital art?

My first love was 3d art, but it was always just a hobby. I've always drawn and painted, and working in 3d helped me better understand forms. I studied painting because I was more comfortable there - I could sit down and draw anything if I put my mind to it, but trying to do this on a computer was clunky and difficult.  I'm not sure why I came back to 3d. I dropped out of school so painting became too expensive . . . I'm sure that
had something to do with it.

The way you create your artwork is really interesting, using two different digital packages to create an image, which you then tweak, print out and scan back in. Why use this combination?

I use the different programs for different reasons. I do all my modelling in an old(ish) freeware program called Wings3d.  I've been using it since I was 14, so I'm very familiar with it's behavior and can work very quickly in it. It also only allows you to hit "undo" one time, so it keeps you on your toes and focused, not much room for mistakes. I don't know if that's suppose to be a feature or what.   I print/scan all my images because for the most part, rendered 3d images are super creepy. They are too perfect... the spheres are too round and the cubes are too sharp and everything looks too correct.  Printing at a low DPI scrambles the colours a little bit, obscures some details and makes it seem less generated.


Your tumblr features a great animation you did for The Lemons and the little loop of the car driving past cacti is brilliant, full of character.  Do you enjoy animating your creations?

I've only recently started to animate in 3d.  It's very fun!

 

Those glossy textures and colours are what really caught our attention, can you tell us a bit about why your environments and characters are created to look so plastic and toy like?

I try to think of my images as little dioramas while I'm making them, and also 3d renderings are really plastic looking by nature. I've never really been interested in realism, but I like the idea of something looking realistically fake if that makes sense.

What were your 3 favourite toys growing up as a kid?

Lego, micro machines, and a tiny inline skate from my sister's barbie that would generate sparks when you ran it across a surface. 

 

Your Blanks Zine is a cool idea, how is this project coming along?

I forgot that was still up on my blog! I haven't done anything with that in several years. At the time it was my way of trying to do a  "get people involved" thing in my hometown.  Maybe in the future I will try something similar again.  

 

Your artwork is reminiscent of Jim Woodring (for the colours and surreal environments) and you make good use of true isometric and 3 point perspectives.  Can you tell us a bit about your influences?

I am a big time Jim Woodring fan, and he is an influence.  A lot of my influences are in comics (old and new) ... John Pound, Al Jaffee, Antoine Marchalot, Lale Westvind, and Alex Degen  are some off the top my head.  I think the main influence for using an isometric perspective is from playing computer RPG's like Diablo and Final Fantasy Tactics when I was younger.

You can see more of Jordan's artwork by checking our his Tumblr and Facebook pages.  You can also find his work for sale in Gosh comics (if you're in London) or buy online from Happiness Comix.