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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.