The brightest time lines mixed and frozen in completely new forms. In ones where the steam age collided with 80's action movies and belief in aliens, old-school cyberpunk messed with the atmosphere of high fantasy. These visual tales of the 21st century are born in Kentucky and emerge from the digital "pen" of Jordan Speer.

How he manages to create amazing animation and maintain creative flexibility, presenting unique projects for both Brain Dead and Bloomberg — read our interview.
The brightest time lines mixed and frozen in completely new forms. In ones where the steam age collided with 80's action movies and belief in aliens, old-school cyberpunk messed with the atmosphere of high fantasy. These visual tales of the 21st century are born in Kentucky and emerge from the digital "pen" of Jordan Speer.

How he manages to create amazing animation and maintain creative flexibility, presenting unique projects for both Brain Dead and Bloomberg — read our interview.
As you said, you grew up in "a relatively religious household". So cartoons, video games and other child stuff were off-limits. Tell us about that time. How did you find some "loopholes" to watching cartoons, playing video games e.t.c? Was it hard? Was it kinda funny for you at that time?
Not everything was off-limits… I remember only being able to watch Ninja Turtles or Street Sharks at friends houses, but things like Batman were totally fine at home (which is weird because Batman was supposed to be like, a real dude beating the shit out of real people). I think having some restrictions on that stuff made me appreciate what I did get to see alot more. A minor trade-off for having less exposure to some media I guess. I wouldn't say it was hard, but it definitely led to some huge cultural blindspots down the road.

Speaking of blindspots….one standout thing from my childhood…. I remember watching AKIRA for the first time. My brother and I were like, 8/9 years old and picked it out at blockbuster. My mom was distracted and just sorta glanced at it - I think she saw that it was a cartoon and assumed it was fine. Anyways - that was a landmark moment for me as a kid. I remember being nervous that my mom would walk in at any moment, see the insanity happening on the screen, and make us stop watching, but it never happened. Shout out to my mom for her lapse of judgment.
Being a child/teenager, which things impressed you the most (not only from pop culture, music, cinema etc)? Maybe even from native Kentucky? Feel free to highlight any stuff that is still important or memorable for you as an artist.
I grew up close to Mammoth Cave, which is the largest cave system in the world. There are bottomless pits, eyeless fish, and ruins of old settlements way down inside the cave. Humans have been doing all kinds of stuff in there for 5,000 years. It's very beautiful and sort of terrifying. I'm always thinking back to walking around in there as a kid, I think it did something to my young brain. It probably explains why I like dungeon crawl stuff.
Why did you decide to start art? And why did you choose 3D, not analogue techniques?
I was always drawing as a kid, and things just sorta naturally evolved from that. I do remember seeing early 3D stuff in movies when I was very young, and then later on TV… there was a show called Reboot that I was obsessed with. It was all 3D (a first for its time) made by some insane Canadians. When I was 14 or so I learned how to pirate software and found a working version of Bryce 3d. I was hooked from there. I went to college for painting after high school and moved away from 3d for a while, but fell back into it after dropping out. I think it was because art supplies are expensive and my various dishwashing / pizza kitchen jobs could only pay for a few vices.

I like 3D because it's fun to fight against the software. By default everything tends to look mathematically perfect and shiny. I enjoy trying to make it look cruddy, or at least make it look like a human was involved in the process. I also enjoy the "black box" aspect of it. By that I mean I'm really stupid and don't really grasp the computational stuff, so a lot of my process is pretty simple. It's like poking something with a stick until it moves. I try to keep my workflow as simple as possible. I hate anything that requires math or plotting or plugins.
In your early work, you tried to be contrary to the 3d art that was around at the time and put some heavy-handed message in your art. Tell us about it in detail. What was important to you as an artist at that time? And why did you change your focus from some "message" art to more abstract ideas?
I think I was going through a typical "adbusters phase" (or something like that). You're young and stupid and still learning about how things work and getting really angry, but you're also making all kinds of new mental connections and developing your own worldview. I was probably thinking about U.S. imperialism and getting really mad at Disney or Viacom or something, I don't know.

At some point I realized that art making is way more fulfilling when you're not trying to contort the process to fit a preconceived idea. Just "let it rip" from your hear.
According to your instagram page, you often search for new sources of knowledge and references. You take it from everywhere! From documentaries about dinosaurs and knights, to some Soviet Russia animation. What is it: your innate curiosity or desire to develop your own visual experience?
I don't think I've ever consciously decided to develop a specific visual style or explore a specific theme. I try to think of the process like a digestive system…. If you just eat corn you pretty much know what the end result is going to look like. If you're curious and eat lots of different stuff, you might not know what's going to come out the other end, but you know something interesting might come out. I'm very stubborn but also lazy...I think my visual style is the result of compromising with failed experiments and leaning on bad habits until they somehow turn into good habits.

Ever since covid, I've sorta regressed into things I was into when I was younger. I think the past few years has been alot of re-discovery. Recently I've been super inspired by fantasy artists like Ted Nasmith (who I was obsessed with in middle school), Erol Otus, Roger Garland, and Sue Dawe.
Bright eyes from shade. I can say it's a central image of your artworks. Sometimes it's a guy in hood. Sometimes it's just the eyes from some spots. What do these eyes mean for you?
I used to draw faces compulsively, so maybe it's the result of fatigue haha. It's a good shorthand that you can put almost anywhere in a composition, and yeah I think they look cool. I like adding mysterious witnesses watching stuff that's happening in the image or looking at the viewer.
Your other artworks are also full of unusual stuff, weird vehicles, power armor characters, big bees, easter eggs... How do these crazy ideas come to you? Any examples?
I try not to think about where they're coming from. Usually it's just stuff I think would be fun or funny or cool to make. A big egg is really cool and funny to me for some reason. Monolithic but fragile. I don't know.
Do you have some kind of lore for it all? Or planning to create lore?
I hope that people make up their own lore for it all. That's way more exciting to me.
Do you have any rituals or something unusual and special related to your creativity process?
Like I said, I'm really stubborn and have bad habits… one of them is that I hate having other things going on in my day if I'm trying to work on stuff, especially if it's a piece that I'm super into. Like, if I wake up and know I have to run errands later or something, it messes with me if I'm trying to work. So I guess you could say my ritual is being lazy. I take a 45 minute nap almost every day. Can you believe there are people that work from home that don't take naps?
What differences in your creativity process between making artwork and animations?
Animation adds a bunch of new considerations and limitations that aren't necessarily there with static artwork, so I tend to go into it in a more "problem solving" mode which doesn't always lead to having fun. My ultimate goal for animation is to get to a place where I can approach it like I do my illustrations. I like just going for it, then figuring out how it's all gonna work afterwards.
You often do commissions for various types of companies and brands. From Brain Dead to Bloomberg. Which things do you appreciate the most in this kind of collaboration? Feel free to select any examples to describe it.
The thing that I appreciate the most is having freedom and working with people that have faith in artists and respect and passion for art. The collaborations I've done with Brain Dead have been dream projects. Kyle Ng and Steve Smith view their commissions as art grants and it really feels like it. That approach works for them because they love art and have huge respect for artists and their different processes. Working as a freelancer for 10+ years, I can say that is definitely not always the case.
And, what kind of commissions you'll never do?
Anything where the artist is being used to dress up a really hollow or stupid idea to appease a bunch of business school grads or tech people that secretly (or even openly) despise art. I've fallen into doing stuff like that before to pay the bills. As a freelancer you're constantly in the orbit of these giant media conglomerates and corporate behemoths that lure you in with short gigs and limited culpability in whatever dumb thing they're selling.
As you said, you're a big fan of steel guitar, and the best show you've ever seen was in an abandoned cabin in the middle of nowhere Kentucky. Highlight your favorite music/musicians? What's in your playlist?
I mostly listen to music on youtube, so I have alot of chaotic playlists scattered around. Hiroshi Yoshimura, Brian eno, Harry Hosono, Geinoh Yamashirogumi, Bill Orcutt, John Prine, Friction, Quasimoto. Recently I've been listening to alot of Marry Lattimore and Pharoah Sanders. I also rediscovered an album I used to listen to alot called "Voices" by Yoko Ueno. I listen to it alot while I work. Good stuff.
What's your current inspiration and interests besides the world of visual culture?
I wish I could say some cool thing I'm into right now. I've been watching alot of Chemical Safety Board videos on youtube. They are completely bonkers. I'm slowly re-reading Annals of the Former World, learning about mountains and rocks. I bought a baseball glove a few weeks ago and have been playing catch with my girlfriend. The excitement never ends.
Which personal projects are you working on now? What's your upcoming plans?
Right now I'm finishing up a fantasy picture book for McSweeney's. It's a kids book, but I'm hoping adults will also enjoy it. I've been working on it for over a year now. It will be available early 2024. My upcoming plan is to make $999,999,999 so I can take a break from freelancing and work on a personal project I've been wanting to start for ages. We'll see how that goes.

Artist's website

Grade Moscow
18th August, 2023