Jordan Marzuki’s unusual talent
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.