Interview with China Jordan Artist and Founder of ArtistAnd
e caught up with Artist and Founder of ArtistAnd China Jordan to talk about bringing back art and creativity into the workplace, virtual drawing classes and the commission from Dominos pizza to paint the Mona Lisa eating pizza.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT ARTISTAND?
ArtistAnd is a creative company with the goal of making art accessible and engaging to the everyday person who feels they are not entitled to enjoy Art. We bring art and creativity into the workplace, using traditional techniques and methods to create a happier, and healthier environment. Whether that is through a practical approach of the team getting stuck into a drawing class, or whether we are creating a bespoke original oil painting for the launch of a new product. Our services are all about community, inspiring one another and the shared experience and joy of artistic appreciation without any fear of judgement or exclusivity. We want to make art engaging to the viewer and accessible to the user so everyone can feel entitled to the benefits of enjoying art and creativity.
WE ARE LOVING YOUR VIRTUAL WORKSHOPS, CAN YOU TELL US HOW THEY CAME ABOUT?
Sure! When we started ArtistAnd nearly a year and a half ago, the focus was to bring art into the workplace and offer drawing workshops as team building opportunities. No more building bridges out of spaghetti, we want the teams to feel and have a taste of being interactive with their hands again.
Many industries don’t have room for creativity but we knew that so many people needed a creative outlet and to feel the benefits of this amazing and accessible practise. This was even before the pandemic. When we were all homebound in March 2020, we felt that our journey was on pause, but it turned out it was just the beginning. A friend of mine encouraged me to host a drawing class and at first, I was stubborn and didn’t feel it would work. How can you show anyone how to draw online? It turns out, you can! And most importantly, it was a lot of fun. This is what people needed during that period.
They needed to connect with others, try new things, and have something they could be proud of. We were able to offer all of these skills whilst staying safe and sharing our own knowledge into an approachable and enjoyable way. We were able to adapt the classes for corporate events and socials and bring teams together through an activity they have not done before. Since the pandemic hit, and up to this date (March 2021) We have hosted 180+ online workshops and reached just over 2000 people. Coming from an audience of only close friends and loved ones, this has been the most moving journey and we are so grateful for each individual that gives it a go.
WHAT DRAWING WORKSHOPS DO YOU HAVE COMING UP THIS MONTH?
We have quite a few collaborative workshops coming up with other companies so we are always looking forward to these! For our general public, we have our regular drawing classes, which we host every Tuesday at 7:30 pm. They have became so popular we had to add an additional class at 6pm to make sure everyone could get involved!
We are looking at adding another life drawing class and a Gin & Draw where you get sent lovely artisanal gins, treats and craft kits to your homes! Dates are TBC but we have lots to look forward to.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PROJECT TO DATE?
Oooo that is a tough one. I love every aspect of my job (except the admin of course) so it’s really hard to narrow it down! I guess I will tell you my proudest project and one that I didn’t fully appreciate the gravitas of at the time. I was commissioned by Dominos in 2015 to paint the Mona Lisa eating pizza for their new Master Pizza range. There were another 4 paintings that were adapted in the same style and I created these in the corner of my bedroom, with terrible equipment and lighting and I had to go down to a pizza branch and have my photo taken!
I didn’t think I would be in them and my eyes were all blood shot from staying up painting all night but when I saw my face in the newspaper that’s when I realised how big this was. Years later, I didn’t realise but my Mona Lisa was auctioned off (for free) and a woman contacted me on Facebook to say she won the painting and it is in her dining room! I couldn’t believe that someone wanted to hang this in their home. She was fixated on what it was ‘worth’ which I found so bizarre because it is a replica, and she won it for free but she valued this piece in two ways. One for they visual joy it brought her and she could see it every day, and one for the idea that it has monetary value which I had stopped seeing it as.
This project was a lot of fun because it reached so many people, I was trusted as an artist to get their vision across, and I was able to paint in my favourite style. I love painting replica’s and having others enjoy that experience too because of the modern twist, so combing the old and the new was really, the pinocle moment for ArtistAnd to begin.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN?
I think one that has stuck to me for years, and is a simple reminder to try and remain positive when you are feeling down – ‘happiness attracts happiness.’ You can really see and feel this from others and your relationships can depend on your interactions.
People want to be around happy people, they want to work with happy people and so making sure that you put your happiness first, is the most vital thing. Making sure to look after yourself and do all the self-care that you need to continue on your journey is number one.
Once you are happy, you can help others, and infect them with positivity, love and joy. I may not be happy all the time, and when I’m feeling down, like all of us do from time to time, I try to allow myself the space to feel and reflect, and I will seek happiness from those around so their positivity can help me get back on track. In general, I am a happy person and life offers you so much more if you can try to focus on the positive train. It’s not always easy, and I have had long stints in my life on the wrong train and I attracted the wrong people. I’m responsible for my own happiness and once you put that in the centre of everything, you are kinder to one another, you are more productive, and you get so much more from life.
ARE YOU WORKING ON ANYTHING THAT WE SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR?
Yes! We have several things coming up in the pipeline. We are working on a drawing book, primarily on the fundamentals of pencil drawings. Just like a colouring book for adults, but a very casual book for shading with a pencil. These are exercises you can do in front of the TV, or on a Sunday morning in the garden.
On top of that, we are launching a membership area for classes, tutorial videos for learning how to draw. Again, we are trying to make drawing as accessible as possible and hopefully getting some great content out there. Lastly, we are going back to painting traditional oil paintings! With lockdown lifting, we going to be teaming up with more brands and businesses to produce unique oil paintings for them to get their followers engaging, appreciating, and benefiting from creativity in their environment.
IF YOU HAD A FREE DAY IN LONDON TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, NO LIMITS, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
Hmmmm, good question. I would always start with a quick hour around my favourite gallery, the National Portrait Gallery. I just love all of the styles and artworks in here and I love portraiture. After that, I have always wanted to nosey around Buckingham palace with no limits as to where you could visit. I did pop in once to deliver some books when I worked at a gallery and I was so impressed. It just wasn’t enough to only see 2 rooms!
I think after a nice lunch at a fancy restaurant and a glass of wine, I’d love to walk around Kew gardens with no one around and look at all the amazing plants. Like most people, gardening has been a key feature in my lockdown adventure so this would be dreamy. At the end of the day, I’d love to be wined and dined in Mildreds, the vegetarian restaurant in Soho. They always have the most amazing food! One day China … one day.
To join a virtual drawing class visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tuesday-evening-virtual-drawing-class-with-artistand-tickets-105079361198
Photography by Nyla Sammons