Sketchbook Sneak: Jordan Kay

It’s been a while since I put up a sketchbook sneak feature, but I’m happy to put recent illustration graduate Jordan Kay in the spotlight. She’s one of few illustrators I’ve seen to put such time and dedication to a series of great sketchbooks.

Packed full of photos, various day to day observations and drawings, celebrity quotes and intricate lettering, her sketchbook work is less artistic preparation, more completed artworks in themselves. I asked her a few questions about her work.

jordan kay illustration sketchbook ape on the moon

jordan kay illustration sketchbook ape on the moon

What got you into illustration?


‘Hmm…junior year of high school, my friend went on a “check out colleges” trip. She wanted to major in art, so private art schools were definitely on her list. At the last minute I was invited. I threw myself & 2 random sketchbooks into the car. We drove around the midwest and looked at state universities, then the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD). I showed the two sketchbooks to the admissions counselors and they really liked it. Since I had never heard of a specialized major in illustration at the time, it sounded very professional to the 18-year-old me.

The next college we looked at was super boring. The group of high school students touring the campus had to go around and tell everyone what major they wanted to be. I said illustration’, and promptly was told there was no major like that available there. So I went to MCAD and majored in illustration. It all happened so fast…’

jordan kay illustration sketchbook ape on the moon

jordan kay illustration sketchbook ape on the moon

What are you tools of choice for your sketch books?

‘I use everything from ink to colored pencils, to highlighters. It really doesn’t matter to me. Whenever I go out the door, I make sure to have around five random drawing utensils in my bag. Whatever ends up in there is what I use’.

jordan kay illustration sketchbook ape on the moon

What inspires you to sketch?

I had to think about this question for a while, and I think I summed it up by three major things. Get ready…

  • Thrift store art: Those mutant imperfections in paintings meant to be photorealistic. I love it.
  • Basic recording of my surroundings. Whenever I want to remember a certain event from my day, I draw a small piece of what was around me, and it serves as a sort of personal diary entry.
  • Celebrity gossip! It’s ridiculous, and I was never interested in that stuff growing up, but now it serves as amazing material to make illustrations from. What’s cool, is that one sentence said by a celebrity during an interview, can be skewed 20 different ways, and totally is by celebrity gossip magazines! If only they hired on illustrators! Aye me’.

jordan kay illustration sketchbook ape on the moon

At the moment, Jordan is working on large format ink drawings depicting glamorous women from the 1920s to 1950s. ‘It’s really fun drawing their hair. I’m also trying to build up my body of pen pals. Art mail is the best. Nothing better, truly’.

All the best with that Jordan!

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4 Comments

  1. I love sketchbooks. I love the portability of them, I love the scope you have- to make them as neat or messy, stark or busy as you like- it is much more relaxed- there is so much more freedom than in a formal composition.

    The floral designs on the right of the second image are awesome and I like the shelves and stripy chair in the 4th image. The stripy chair is wicked actually.

    Oh and the left vending machine is pretty damned cool as well. The felt-pens create a very nice, kind of stylized-retro effect.

  2. Thanks for your comment mr Tod! I too like the stripy chair very much 🙂

  3. beauty full.

  4. you should be very proud of your sketchbook,i think its amazing!

Comments are closed.