Art has many forms. A painting, a piece of music, or a poem. When two forms of art collide, something great can happen. Like one artist inspired by another. I've been painting watercolor for several years now, mostly from my own choice of subjects and references. However, illustration is something I studied during my college years, and I have been wanting to produce one with watercolor. It is always a challenge and exciting process to draw visuals out of words and thoughts. So I approached Jordan for an opportunity to do an illustration for her poetry book, which turned into the cover of her book.
English is my second language. I grow up in Taiwan until I was 14. Now I consider myself a fluent English speaker after years of living in the US. However, reading is still something that doesn’t come natural to me, especially long forms of text. I remember struggling through my high school summer readings. However, there is a form of writing that I like, and that is poetry. Like a skilled painter who paints a powerful picture with simple brushstrokes, Jordan’s poetry is how she uses simple wordings to convey a complex emotion and image. I am able to submerge myself into her state of mind very easily despite my lack of reading discipline. I personally believe that’s what makes good art. A good piece of art is something that speaks for itself for the audience to enjoy with ease, while having enough substance to remain in their thoughts.
The challenge of doing a visual piece for Jordan’s poetry book is the interpretation. People always say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. However, that’s definitely not the case for this project. I’m really afraid of cheapening Jordan’s poems into an ordinary picture. Therefore, having her involved in the creation of the image every step of the way is vital. I realized the role of this book cover is not to be a direct representation of the poems themselves but an invitation into Jordan’s poetry world. Through our conversations, I learned about her poetry gathering. Where she and her friends come together to have a cup of tea and share poems. So, the idea of a pair of tea cups came into my mind. By releasing her poems as a book, Jordan is extending her invitation to you into her tea gathering. Each cup of tea represents a person. And she bridges the connections with her poems. That is what the image is about. An invitation of a connection through poetry. Jordan came up with a perfect title for her book — my heart poured out. Knowing she has beautiful handwriting, I asked her to write the book title by hand. It became a perfect touch as part of the illustration.
Jordan and I have never met in person (not yet at least). Yet it is amazing how we were able to come together to collaborate on this project. I imagine people who pick up this book will have the same experience. To experience her stories and emotions without meeting her in person. I am very happy to see her sharing her heart with the world, and am honored to be part of it.