HOT•BED

A FINE ART & HORTICULTURAL EXPERIENCE

HOT•BED is a new creative venture between James Oliver Gallery and Bryan Hoffman of Philadelphia based Hoffman Design Group.

Jordan Plain

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Jordan Plain is a Philadelphia based creative skilled in many mediums. He uses graphic design, poetry, and photography tell stories, set a scene, and influence thought. He covers topics, from masculinity to gun violence and is not afraid to tackle topics other men shy away from. 

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How did you get started with all of this (graphic design, poetry, comics and art in general)?

My first medium was poetry when I had a creative writing project in middle school. In high school, my friends and I started a button company called “Plain Sight”—I managed the business side of it. After I graduated from high school, I picked up photography—my first show was at Goldilocks Gallery via Rec Philly. The button company shut down and then I picked up graphic design last year. I’d make satirical party flyers to practice my new skills, starting my own projects instead of waiting for people to contact me. I would always inquire my illustrator friend to make a comic with me, consistently he declined. One day, I took it upon myself to create it on my own. I ended up selling about 100 copies. I’m a self-taught graphic designer.

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The first graphic project I ever did was called “Bad At Color.” I didn’t really know how to use color, but I knew people loved how vibrant my photography was. I took my photos and paired them with graphics made with colors I extracted from my photos. My next project was “Dear Bro” where I incorporated poetry with graphics. It was aimed as a message and art for men since they have less interest in art. I was communicating ideas like “hug it out” and “stop consuming women.”

You have so many forms of art that you create. Which do you think is the one you enjoy and resonates with you the most and why?

It depends on the day. Most days, I want to design, but most of the time that involves poetry. With photography, I’m capturing something that already exists. With graphic design, you’re creating something from nothing, which makes me feel better.

What is your overall goal with all the art you create? What message are you trying deliver and to who?

Overall, I want to be a sustainable artist and let this pay my bills. I also want to communicate my message: “examine yourself.” Each project I work on, I’m kind of picking myself apart and learning about myself as I go. At the end of my life, I want you to be able to put every piece of art side by side and have it be me as a whole. People like me who are creative get the struggle of being in your own head, but people also aren’t really mindful of who they are.

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What impact would you like to make in Philadelphia, nationally, and globally with your art?

In Philly, I want to create a mural, whether it’s of me or my work. Philly is such an artistic city. Nationally, I want to work with big brands to restore minimalism to life. I’m very minimalist. Every day, I go through my possessions and I ask myself, “Do I need this? Does it make me happy?” Globally, I want to spread the message about how artistic of a city Philly is. Everyone here is an artist.

What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever created and why?

Hard question. Right now, it’s my book not because it’s the best thing I’ve ever created. I love it because I know it’s a tangible thing that is sitting in people’s homes. I covered a lot of topics: fatherhood, love. I’ve created better things than that, but my book kind of captures a wider spectrum of ideas.

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How has the creative community in Philly influenced you? How would you describe it to someone who's never been to Philly?

I think the creative community is so different now. I grew up in a community where it was always the same people doing the same thing. Now there are sooo many people doing sooo many different things, and there are so many different events and groups happening. It’s cool to see the different sides of Philly.  I think now it’s a lot less about the creative part. It’s more about the party and business side. Every artist can find their niche. I’d like to make my own group some da. I like to curate my own events

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Who are some of your favorite artists/creative people in Philly?

Tierra Whack—she’s just it; Jordan Hicks; Aaron Ricketts; Saeed Ferguson at ALL CAPS STUDIO—very simple and minimal, but still very important; Matt Ford; Miles Chancellor; and Steph Czapla. Poetry-wise: Kassidi Jones and the PYPM poets. The whole poetry community in Philly inspired me to create poetry myself. This community inspires me to do a lot of the things I do. Before I found this community, I wasn’t really interested in poetry, and then I started going to these readings and open mics and I was so inspired. I have a voice and I’m gonna use it.  All these people who are big used to come to our little parties and events and they took it to that level.

Where do you see yourself and your career ten years from now?

I kind of just want to be sustainable, maybe not be nation-wide. I want to be doing seminars and talk to people about my experiences, tell them it’s doable but there is a lot of work to be done. I don’t want to realize all of this was for nothing. I want to make sure I’m not still in the same place. I can see myself working on projects for big companies and murals in large cities.

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P.s. Jordan also has a podcast with his partner, Kayla called “Good Friends. Good Luck.” Check! It! Out!

BIG THANK YOU to Jordan for stopping by & chatting with us

Show him lots & lots of love

@jordanplain | jordanplain.com

Manuela Guillén

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Manuela Guillén is a freelance painter, muralist, and digital illustrator currently living in North Philadelphia. Born in Miami to Cuban and Salvadorian immigrant parents, Manuela has always had a love for art. She has collaborated with local, national, and global art organizations such as PangeaSeed, Fung Collaboratives, 48 Blocks, and the Atlantic City Arts Commission. Her murals can be found in both the U.S. and Mexico. Inspired by plants, tropical colors, and her cultural upbringing, Manuela aims to bring awareness to art education, sociopolitical and environmental issues. As a Spanish Art teacher, Manuela hopes to inspire her students to be creative as she continues to bring communities closer together through art. Read more about how Manuela is empowering the local Philly community with her artivism below.

Follow Manuela on social: instagram  | facebook  | website

What motivated you to start creating your art?

I’ve always been painting & drawing, but it was more of a meditative & healing thing for me. In a lot of ways, it helped me deal with hardships I was going through. I was never really open about my past before, but when I started going to Stockton University, I began to share my story. Art has always helped me express myself without having to use actual words.

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Did you go to school for graphic design/take any classes, or is this just sheer natural talent?

I’ve always been a painter, but more recently I started using graphics because I wanted to make a coloring book as a tribute to the immigrant community as well as for women generally. Doing the book by hand wasn’t going so well, so a friend suggested that I start making graphics on the computer. I used to live in Miami and when I lived there, I was so proud of my culture & being Latina. Then I moved to New Jersey, and I felt kind of ostracized. No one spoke my language & my culture wasn’t celebrated. I felt like I had to conform and assimilate myself to a new culture that just wasn’t very accepting.  It took me a long time to feel proud about my culture & and so with my art and that coloring book, I want other women to feel beautiful and represented.

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What message/feeling would you like people to walk away from your work with?

Empowered. Beautiful. Represented. I use my art as a medium to facilitate discussions among 1st and 2nd generation immigrants so they have a platform to discuss their culture and identify with it. I want people to feel like they have a voice addressing the ongoing struggle between immigrants and the U.S. government. My family has struggled with documentation for years. I use art as a way to start the discussion for people who are not like me, but are willing to understand & listen to the struggles of the Latinx community and want to help.

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Where do you take your inspiration from?

I think the majority of my inspiration comes from my background, culture, and stories from my friends & family. I get a lot of inspiration from exotic plants - to me, they’re very symbolic. I think they represent growth & diversity because they’re imported from foreign countries like Mexico, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, etc. Plants just remind me of super cultural, exotic places. Because I lived in Dominican Republic, Mexico, & Miami, those are all things I grew up around and are familiar to me.

There are also artists I have a lot of admiration for like Zosen from Spain who paints abstract shapes. Magda Love an Argentinian artist who uses dots and outlines to convey movement (this is especially helpful for me because I use flat colors and I want my work to breathe and feel alive). Even Victoria Villasana from Mexico. Victoria does a lot of street art and uses realism mixed with yarn. She does these crazy beautiful patterns and shapes using the yarn. I also like Nosego who is a local Philadelphia artist who experiments with nature and surrealism. These artists inspire me to endlessly grow my work and try to use new styles to bring my work to life.


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Where do you see yourself and your art in 10 years?

Okay, so I think this is the hardest question. I’m not sure if I’ll continue teaching, but I do see myself in North Philly. I love the kids & I see my younger self in them. I teach spanish with art. I teach them to feel proud of their culture and not to let themselves stray away from what makes them them, just to fit in with the majority. I would like to rent a warehouse to help the youth grow, learn and thrive.  Some of the kids go to mandatory tutoring after school & they’ll stop in my class after right before they go home because they just want to draw for 5 minutes, so I see the passion and how it really helps them escape hardships of their home life or other struggles they may have throughout the day. I want to be that person in the Latinx & Philly community who can give them the new resources that they otherwise wouldn’t have in school or at home.

How would you describe your work to a blind person?

I would use an old painting I did, Izote Chac Mool. In that painting, I told a story about my mom living in El Salvador as a child. She was trying to save up enough money to buy a little bottle of pink nail polish, so she was selling water to tourists in the city. It took her months. When she was finally able to buy it, she showed her brothers and they broke it because they didn’t want her to get used to a life of luxury. They didn’t want her to put a big value on “things”. So I did a painting with El Salvador’s national flower, and then I broke a bottle of nail polish and splattered it all over it. I think that would help them understand my story and my art and actually feel it.

Who is your idol & if they asked you to create a one of a kind piece for them, describe what that would look like?

Diane Guerrero from Orange is the New Black. She’s a very strong voice for the immigrant & feminist community. In her book, “In The Country We Love,” she talks about how her parents were deported when she was 14. She speaks about how her latinx community really came together and helped her out. I would like to create a painting for her. I think that people think that we need I.C.E., but what we really need is more community programs & people looking out for each other in our community. Collectivism is a big part of Latinx culture - you know your neighbors, your neighbors know you, and you’re there for each other like family. She always says if it wasn’t for her community, she wouldn’t be where she is today. I would definitely incorporate plants from different countries in her painting to represent togetherness.

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What are you trying to accomplish with your art? Do you feel like it has already made an impact? If so, please explain what that impact is.

I want to make a big impact with the Latinx community in the U.S. and all over. I would like my work to make people with privilege think twice about how they treat or talk to people living in the U.S. that may have been born somewhere else. I would like people to see each other as friends not enemies. I feel like my work has gotten a lot of attention recently and a lot of others identify with my art. I’ve been showcasing & collaborating at different organizations: Juntos, When We All Vote, Pangea Seed, We All Grow Latina; and I feel grateful to be able to use my art to create change.

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Other than yourself, who do you make your art for?

I make my art mainly for the Latinx community & women, but I also hope to grab the attention of people who may not experience those similar hardships. I want people look at my art with an open mind and hope they try to understand. I focus on first & second generation immigrants mainly. El Elote Man is a humorous piece for a younger crowd. Then I have pieces like the mine ruins with the Lincoln Memorial & Build Bridges Not Walls, that have a more serious and political tone. I want my art to really light a fire in the latinx community and everyone else that sees my work. I want my community to feel empowered, represented, and ultimately, find a way to express their cultural & spiritual journey as children of immigrants.

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