Jordan Kay is a West Seattle-based artist/illustrator whose background includes a significant run as a senior designer at Starbucks Creative Studio. She’s originally from the midwest and attended college at MCAD in Minneapolis, and she has a black cat named Quozl, named after the '80s teen sci-fi novel of the same name. In our interview, we talk about old Hollywood, lesbian hands, and uplifting others with your creative passion.
We’re West Seattle neighbors! Welcome to the ‘hood!
Haha, hey, thanks! Great sunsets over here! My partner and I just bought a spot that needs a LOT of love and have it stripped to the studs. Looking forward to future projects and really making the space ours. For now, though, we love the “New York City Loft Living” as we call it. ;)
I imagine your time at Starbucks Creative Studio was a blast, what was your favorite stuff to work on?
Oh man, so many great projects! I got to work on gift cards, holiday coffee packaging, and I even drew a design for their holiday cups that featured some good ol’ fashioned lesbian hands. It truly was a dream job, and I loved collaborating with so many talented designers and specialists that helped projects run so smoothly.
It’s somewhat rare for such an exceptional illustrator to have such a strong grasp of type design… Did you study lettering in college or is it a natural knack?
Fake it 'til you make it, I guess? I love finding flow with everything I do—music really gets me there and I just kind of go for it. I appreciate that you like my lettering! I really love imperfection, and bringing "wonkiness" into many things I make, because you (hopefully) can feel the emotion and human quality that becomes infused into it. I did take a lettering class in college, and love seeing workshops here and there, but for the most part, it’s really about putting in the time and having fun with what you’re doing. At least that’s what works for me.
What impact would you like your work to have on the world?
I really want others to feel joy and/or passion behind the work. Whenever I take on a project, whether personal, for a small business, or even big corporate brand projects, I want others that view the work to feel like it’s filled with emotion and uplift them. If only everyone that looks at happy art would literally have a pep in their step after viewing; that would be amazing to see.
I love old Hollywood movies, especially the ones that have passionate and believable love scenes. I think the human experience is truly very interesting, and getting to imagine myself in others’ shoes, in different eras, is so trippy to me, as well as a bit grounding. There’s a universality that comes through, with interactions sometimes feeling like they could happen now, and then other things happen that are sooo dated. Pre-Code era films are especially interesting to me, because a lot of times they showed very strong women dwelling in hard circumstances, but overcoming certain obstacles for a great ending (or sometimes there’s not a happy ending, heh). No matter what, there’s usually a lot of subtlety in those stories that leave you with something to chew on.
Any favorite Pre-Code titles you’d recommend?
Uh-oh, now I have to pony up. Barbara Stanwyck in general has worked on very compelling stories throughout her career, but Pre-Code (not for kids) Baby Face (1933) and Night Nurse (1931) are particularly deep and/or dark content… yikes!
But if you’re simply looking for adventure and some good romantic scenes (non-Code and clean) then one of my favorite films is Call of the Wild (1935) with Clark Gable and Loretta Young. Their chemistry is pretty intense, even for now. There’s also heart-warming connections between Clark Gable and the St. Bernard dog in the piece. So good!
And what are you listening to these days?
I love disco/boogie/funk music—my partner and I collaborated on livestream record spinning sessions with on-the-fly-visuals at the beginning of the pandemic, which pushed my goofy animation skills. Music reeeally informs my work. I want everything to feel full of movement, even if static. I’m always looking for more vibey tracks, so feel free to hmu with any recommendations. Thank you again for liking my work!