Ask a creative Brooklynite of any stripe (banjo players, collage makers, pickle briners) to name their favorite local artists, and Jordan Bruner will always make the list. An animator and visual artist with a gift for fusing whimsy & intellect, Jordan's work has appeared in galleries around the world; she's been nominated for an Emmy, sought after by bands and filmmakers for music videos and graphic design, and has contributed to projects with everyone from the PBS to Planet Green.
We caught up with Jordan in her Brooklyn studio to hear about her origins, influences, and favorite spot to swim outside the city.
SCOUT: Did you set out to be an animator from the get-go?
JORDAN: When I was a kid, I loved to paint and draw, write stories, and make up plays with my friends. When I was in middle school, my mom gave me a video camera for my 12th birthday. I made movies with my friends and painted all the time, but it never really crossed my mind to combine my two passions until I was in college. At first I thought "Animation, who would want to do that?! You must be crazy to want to be animator! It takes so much time!" But then I took an animation class and thought, "Animation is the best! You can make anything you want come to life!" Then I saw the work of Martha Colburn, Jan Svankmeyer, Michel Gondry, William Kentridge, Norman McClaren, and Yuri Norstein and was completely sold. This was the medium for me.
SCOUT: Are they still your major influences?
JORDAN: When I first saw Martha Colburn's work, it sort of changed my life. I love how loose and irreverent her work is. I had never seen animation like it before. I love illustration, and Maira Kalman has always been one of my favorite artists. Yuri Norstein's "The Hedgehog in the Fog" is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Julia Pott is my favorite young animator, she is wise beyond her years.
SCOUT: I love your stop-motion work. What's the biggest challenge to getting it right?
JORDAN: I think the biggest challenge is time. You could make anything if you had all the time in the world. It's hard for me to not want to be a perfectionist when I'm working on something. I have so many things that I want to be working on right now, but I just don't have the time for all of them, and that makes me sad. Also, working on the computer all the time or being hunched over on a drafting table is also pretty rough on your neck and shoulders. You gotta stretch it out or you'll end up with a hunchback.
SCOUT: You've had work shown all over the world. What drew you to Brooklyn?
JORDAN: I'm from a pretty conservative part of Virginia, and my whole life I was drawn to the Northeast. It just seemed so much more sophisticated. It still sort of surprises me that I have friends now whose parents are Republican. My friends and I always fantasized about moving to New York when we grew up. But now, I mostly live here for work. Don't get me wrong, I love Brooklyn, but often I dream of living on a farm and having a bunch of dogs and goats. One day....
SCOUT: Where are your favorite local places to draw creative inspiration?
JORDAN: Two weekends ago my girlfriends and I drove up to Wassaic, New York for the Wassaic Project Summer Festival. I had a film in the animation program. It was the most fun I have had in months! We saw the best musicCaged Animals, Electric Junkyard Gamelan, Free Bloodsaw amazing art, swam in lakes and camped next to a barn. It was so inspiring to see so many positive, creative people all in one place having the time of their lives. I try to run in Prospect Park everyday (it usually happens far less often than that), and it really clears my head and puts things into perspective.
SCOUT: Do you have any favorite local artists we should be following?
JORDAN: I try to go out and see my friends perform as often as possible. My friend Carla Rhodes always inspires me. She's a rock-n-roll ventriloquist and comedian. She's truly one-of-a-kind and works her butt off.
Want more? Head to Jordan's site to follow the development of her new stop-motion project The Leaf Woman and the Centaur.