Jor­dan Marzuki’s un­usual tal­ent

The Jakarta Post - JPlus - - Between The Lines - WORDS MAR­CEL THEE More on Jor­dan Marzuki: the­bal­let­cats.com

Jor­dan Marzuki is clearly one of the na­tion’s ris­ing cre­ative minds.

A graphic de­signer, il­lus­tra­tor and film­maker by trade, the Jakarta-born artist’s creations have found their way onto many projects and brands, most promi­nently through his own Bal­let­cats brand, with a va­ri­ety of mer­chan­dise — from vin­tage-styled lunch­boxes, “mul­ti­func­tion fab­ric” to hip sweaters — pay­ing tribute to its cre­ator’s love of the fe­line kind.

The 28-year-old cur­rently re­sides in Jakarta, after re­turn­ing from Switzer­land, where he stud­ied at Basel School of De­sign. Over the years, he has worked at a va­ri­ety of cre­ative and de­sign spa­ces, in­clud­ing Le­boye, dia.lo.gue and Ar­gyle & Ox­ford.

Jor­dan’s in­spi­ra­tions come from what he calls his “un­earthly imag­i­na­tion”, some­thing that he feels is hard to spec­ify but is in­trin­si­cally tied to his child­hood.

“I re­mem­ber one time when I was about 8 years old, I took part in a ju­nior draw­ing com­pe­ti­tion in which most of the other kids there were just draw­ing ei­ther im­ageries of beaches, moun­tains and other kinds of ‘beau­ti­ful’ things. In­stead, I drew some kind of grue­some war scene. I can’t re­ally ex­plain what made me do that then, and it is still the kind of mind I have to­day.”

He does re­call feel­ing that his left-field taste gar­nered at­ten­tion from oth­ers, of­ten au­thor­ity fig­ures, which still at­tracts him.

In line with his un­con­ven­tional ap­proach to draw­ing, Jor­dan says that he has trou­ble com­ing up with a con­sis­tent cre­ative process. He calls him­self “in­con­sis­tent”.

“Some­times, I un­dergo a very typ­i­cal brain­storm­ing phase, but usu­ally I don’t pre­fer it as it puts me un­der pres­sure. In­stead, I watch a lot of films, col­lect books and travel to bizarre places, it helps me in ac­quir­ing fresh ideas,” he ex­plained. The re­sults may be un­usual, but he likes that fac­tor. “I pre­fer it when oth­ers come up with their own in­ter­pre­ta­tions of my works but I see my work as be­ing play­ful, com­i­cal and suit­able for all ages.”

With a good pedi­gree of pub­lished works to his name, more and more peo­ple are ask­ing to work with him on projects — some­thing that he finds re­fresh­ingly bizarre.

“It feels funny when peo­ple are al­ready ac­cept­ing of your work. I mean, these days, they just ac­cept what­ever it is I come up with,” he said, sound­ing al­most equally dis­ap­pointed as he is en­ter­tained.”

“For ex­am­ple, my work of­ten em­bod­ies a high level of satir­i­cal con­tent, which is de­lib­er­ately used to pro­voke. But, it seems that my au­di­ence never gets of­fended, in­stead they see my work as a reg­u­lar po­lit­i­cally cor­rect piece.”

As such, Jor­dan plans on go­ing even bolder with his de­signs and il­lus­tra­tions. He is work­ing on some­thing “a lit­tle more ex­per­i­men­tal”.

“I am cur­rently de­vel­op­ing a kind of [provoca­tive] news­pa­per that will be dis­trib­uted in tra­di­tional mar­kets or sketchy bus ter­mi­nals all over In­done­sia.” Most re­cently, Jor­dan’s pieces have graced left­wing news­pa­pers in Switzer­land, in­clud­ing one named Die

Per­spek­tive. He has tack­led is­sues such as soc­cer fa­nati­cism and its ties to racism.

“I have to ob­serve these themes care­fully. I lived in Switzer­land for two years and for me it has been very in­ter­est­ing learn­ing about the other side of for­eign cul­ture — es­pe­cially the cur­rent pol­i­tics.”

Jor­dan is also work­ing on a chil­dren’s pic­ture book in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Jakarta’s Stu­dio Ge­om­e­try, which will soon be pub­lished in In­done­sia. As al­ways from him, it will not re­sem­ble the usual chil­dren’s es­cape.

“It’s some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent for chil­dren — like the pro­gres­sive and con­tem­po­rary ver­sion of Alice in Won­der­land,” he said.

OUT OF THE OR­DI­NARY: Jor­dan Marzuki’s il­lus­tra­tion for the Swiss arts, cul­ture and po­lit­i­cal publi­ca­tion Die Per­spek­tive (sec­ond left), and sev­eral de­signs from his The Bal­let­cats brand.

TALK­ING POINT: Jor­dan Marzuki cre­ates pieces he con­sid­ers po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect in the hope of stir­ring dis­cus­sion.

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