Innovational creations coming from the sagacious mind of Detroit’s Jordan Garland, are steadily breaking new ground with a vision that is producing masterpieces through the art of expression. Whether moving seamlessly across disciplines within the boundless world of art, or simply spending the day skating around the city, Jordan effortlessly drawing inspiration from seemingly mundane experiences has provided a creative boost as to what the city of Detroit has to offer. I caught up with the local artist to further discuss his vision, upcoming projects and more.
First and foremost, introduce yourself to the world. Who is Jordan Garland?
I’m a young man from Detroit Michigan. I eat candy more than food. I’m trash at sleeping and texting back, and lately I’ve been giving serious consideration to getting platinum or gold bottom teeth.
What is your artistic medium of choice? Why that medium?
I’m not really sure that I have one specific medium I focus on or consider myself, honestly. Some days I want to go adventure through the city and shoot footage for #aDetroitFilm, other days I end up feeling like the 10 year old me and sit at a table and draw up something from my head, and that’s how the Detroit snapchat filters and things like that happen. Other days, I just want to go skate around downtown and grind some ledges. At times I will do what I can to just get the idea in my head out as close as my skills let me, then convey my vision to someone more gifted in that specific field and they refine it for me. I supply them what to me is like a reference of feeling and visual, and they usually tell me I conveyed my vision well and they always make it so much better than I could have from where I created it. A lot of “artists” these days stick to one specific craft and go into that “trying to make it” mentality and will be full of those moments where they’re doing things for their self esteem or career, and not what’s more effective for their vision. I’m not hating on it but I’ve grown out of that, real patience and great creations that stand the test of time can’t come from someone who is more focused on themselves than the vision. In response to the why I chose these mediums, I could never focus on just one, and being able to create to the highest level in every field as opposed to just one, is a higher understanding of how all art is effective. I want to build WORLDS not just become a successful artist. I have like 6 worlds in my head right now that all want out for realll, and there’s more on the way.
What do you intend to communicate with your art?
It depends on what I’m feeling at the time really. The first Detroit film short was created because I was so annoyed with how everyone was speaking a negative connotation on Detroit every time that you heard it anywhere. It was just like chill, you guys honestly don’t come here, you have no clue about anything going on here. The second short was about people being desensitized to information and some of the crazy things going on because we are just overloaded with things to deal with in the information age. There’s definitely a disconnect now, the most insane things imaginable have been documented and publicized to the entire world, to where we don’t even really register them as real life happenings, just another thing to witness. I just go off of whatever I think is important enough to address with visuals and sonics and other things as opposed to just going off on Twitter haha.
How has the city of Detroit impacted you as an artist?
Detroit has affected me as an artist because it blessed me with a crazy story to tell. The things that you can just go out and do here that you can’t do anywhere else, or the things you can experience. This past summer we rescued kittens from an abandoned building, my friend Dillon did a trick on his bike flying over a 43 foot creek outside the venue at our art show, I fell through the floor of a burnt down house, we snuck onto the set of a major robot motion picture I can’t technically say the name of, and ran around on spaceships, and a million other crazy experiences. It’s a city that’s full of so much different culture, it’s wild. The land of no opportunity eventually becomes ripe with it for sure if you take pride in the story you’re here to tell. It’s funny because there’s so many dope things and people here that it’s impossible to do it all justice in this film. Everyone will always try to tell me what needs to be addressed or how I gotta get certain people involved, and I’m just like man, trust me, I spend every second on this. If I say I want to go shoot with Snapdogg or Rocaine because I think their vibe is needed to tell the story of Detroit, then just trust me. This city breeds literal characters. I don’t think anyone here feels like they live in the real world, our city seems and looks more like a movie for bad and good. It’s funny how they call Toronto the 6 or any city with a nickname, but Detroit doesn’t have one, it’s just Detroit, because it is what it is, you don’t even gotta state it.
Explain your creative mission behind ‘As Detroits Own’.
To me AsDetroitsOwn is a movement of the future. Through that “brand” or whatever term I gotta use for people to understand, we produced and directed short films that attained over half a million views and counting, put out Detroit apparel that sells to every culture, and curate art shows and action sports events that bring out all the media in the city and hundreds of people. We also designed 6 filters for snapchat that span the entire city. It’s all about bringing the cultures together and creating effective things that people use or are inspired by in their day to day. It’s so corny to me people are divided in every way possible based on false perception, differences are actually cool as hell, and most of the time they’re similarities deep down. I can look at a building that is perfectly designed, or listen to a Lil Uzi song, or even just see a dope color palette some girl is wearing, and every single one is inspiring to me dependent on the feeling they supply. The only gauge of anything should be the level of passion supplied and from there it shouldn’t matter what it is, whether you are the most gifted pianist of all time or you really throw the meanest Pokeball off the iPhone, I really don’t care as long as I can feed off that passion with you, and I want AsDetroitsOwn to be a symbol of the same. I also think we’ve helped spark a narrative in the city, and what we are about to do with #aDetroitFilm is light years ahead of that.
If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?
This is a really cool question haha! The worst part is I already bare qualities of animated characters because I was insane when I was little. I would think I actually was the cartoon characters I liked. I was so obsessed with Dragonball Z. I was convinced I could go super saiyan if I trained hard enough. One time I filled the bathtub with ice cold water and did push-ups on the sides till my arms gave out and I’d fall in the cold water when they did. I was so hardheaded looking back, but i think cartoons, video games, and Harry Potter definitely molded a lot of my personality in terms of perseverance and my inability to be told that something can’t be done. I’d say right now I’m the most like Link from Legend of Zelda and Monkey D Luffy, cuz I’ve been on so many adventures lately and feel like nothing is stopping the journey. I live 18 floors up so i have a horizon line view of the city and I can see crazy things happening from a really far distance. I’ll run down to ground level and track them down and shoot them for the film. Yeah, I’m definitely Link of Detroit. But Link mixed with the peril of the guy from Finding Nemo cuz I just lost my baby girl too haha, not in a father daughter sense, but I can just relate to being out in this ocean without your girl acting way too stressed and annoyed toward everyone who talks to you, just cuz she’s gone haha. It’s real out here. I’m lame.
What are your thoughts behind the current entrepreneurial movement in Detroit?
I think it’s dope that people are building, but everyone should be? It just depends on who is building. I’m super proud of anyone who came from the gutter with no resources and is becoming something with what they’re doing. I’m not one of the people who discourage change or discuss the “old detroit” or the “new detroit” or whatever either though. Those conversations make people sound like little brats to me. I wasn’t raised spoiled so you missed me if you are out here talking instead of trying. If I don’t like the conversation in my city then I’m going to do what I can to affect it, doesn’t matter what it takes, we’re coming for it. How can I find the way if I’m too busy thinking about it and complaining? The problem in the world and its magnified in Detroit is that we just need the right people to attain the resources to build, but sometimes the right people, we have to die or spend a lifetime to get to that point where we attain them and then it’s too late for some people by then to keep that momentum. These corporations can put out all the lame, culture exploiting, unrelated to the product they’re trying to sell, commercials and stories about Detroit just because it’s popular, and it doesn’t affect shit of what is actually going on here and they never did anything for anyone here. So I really just let it pass and focus on what can actually be done by us, as opposed to expecting help that’s never going to come from those type of people. Shout out anyone bettering themselves and building but it’s not just about Detroit, don’t come anywhere to build just for the sake of business and then build and continue to let people drown. It used to sound like an idealist mentality but this generation knows now that we have accountability to each other and that includes corporations.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
I think the first #aDetroitFIlm short was most significant thus far. It was freeing. People have to understand I was skateboarding before all this, not making films. It was like I released that trailer and just blew through every mental and creative block I could ever have first go. I edited the trailer in a moldy basement starving with no money and a bootleg Adobe program that could hardly render a file. I released that trailer and was getting interviewed by Adobe and a million other major platforms and companies and TV networks, so it was a complete different end of the spectrum after that, in many ways. I’m still starving technically but when i can go to an Adobe conference like the 1324Project or anywhere in the city and the people there tell me they watch my videos, it lets me know I’m growing how I should be. I just have ideas for so much more that I’m dying to attain the resources for every day, I gotta get them out.
How do you manage to stay simultaneously personal and original within your creative endeavors?
I’ve never had trouble being personal. I would rather just put everything out to the world as I am and go from there, and doing it through the art just makes it more effective in my eyes. I’m not afraid of who I am at all, and I honestly am not afraid of anyone’s perception. I don’t want to be anyone else or create like anyone else, so that makes it easy to stay original. Not to mention to me it’s a lie to be anything but personal, and if you’re TRULY personal than you’re original by default cuz no one has lived your story but you. I think it’s important to live your work, and I’m not that dude being a hater sitting at the bar cuz his life isn’t moving how he wants, I’m the dude thats out trying to do what he wants to get where he wants. If you are constantly intaking knowledge and sharpening your craft you will always be on the next wave long before it hits. I never have and never will step into something that I’m not passionate about and I’ve been offered opportunities to make more money or partner with things that would have taken away creative control, I just can’t be on that wave, this has to be done how I envision for sure to be effective.
Last but certainly not least, what creative projects do we have to look forward to from you in the near future?
In the distant future the full length release of #aDetroitFIlm, obviously. In the immediate future we are releasing the first episode in the #JourneyToADetroitFIlm series. So much incredible and crazy stuff has been happening on the journey to making this film and I want to show people along the way what we have been fortunate enough to live and see firsthand. I’m currently talking with Brent Beck at Red Bull about a Detroit project that would be incredible to see come to fruition, involving a lot of bicycles and a good friend of mine. I also have been communicating with Adobe for so long and just want to stress the importance of the vision I have for a project we have spoken about briefly from time to time. It’s hard to navigate this industry alone but these interviews help so I appreciate it a lot. I hope somewhere in the future someone from Netflix would pass this along to whomever it needs to go to, to discuss them being the platform we find as the home for #aDetroitFIlm. We will also be creating more seasons of “LongLiveDetroit” apparel, as always too much on the plate to say it all, and I always will be saying a lot.