Tyler Jordan – Konspirator

By Dave Good

One of my earliest images of Tyler Jordan is of the artist dangling off the edge of a skyscraper some 1,000 feet above sea level. “Have you ever been to the Stratosphere?” he asks. I already know where this is going. The answer is not just no, but hell no.


The Stratosphere’s main attraction is a heart-stopping pants-soiling exercise in sheer terror: a mechanical teeter-totter type device that leans out off the lip of the tallest building in Vegas.


It more or less leaves you hanging by your seatbelt suspended over the Strip and the desert and the scene of the accident, should this thing fail. Just thinking about it makes my palms sweat and my ass hurt. 


“They take a picture of you when you’re up there. Mine,” he says, “is pretty funny.”  Would he go again? His words say no, but his expression says otherwise. 


Later I learn more about Jordan that is equally confounding. When creating logos on the computer for APB (American Pig Brand) or any other of the companies that hire out his considerable talents, he draws using a computer mouse with his right hand. But when making fine art, generally for him a soft chalk process on coarse paper, he reverts to using his left hand.


“Took me 11 years to learn how to draw with the mouse,” he says. “I’m left handed.”

There’s a left-brain right-brain crossover working in Jordan’s art. It is as if two different people were doing the drawings. The computer-drawn images are all sharp angles, sci-fi, futuristic, fantasy, and for the most part, heavily politicized. The left-handed fine art, on the other hand, is sentimental and soft-focus, blurred even, and largely consists of images of sports and idyllic travel scenes. 


We are clicking through his on-line portfolio. I stop him at an image of a woman wearing what looks to be a school uniform. “That was a flyer for an over-glorified house party,” he says. “It was just a house party, but it drew over 600 people.” The power of Jordan’s art.

Born in Oregon, Jordan’s family moved to Coronado in 1988. His grandfather had been a resident of a beach encampment known as Tent City that dates back to the turn of the century. Aside from a brush with the muralist-activist Salvador Torres, Jordan is otherwise self -taught as an artist.


He considers himself an illustrator first. “I dabble in fine art,” he says. “I do so many different types of things. When I was a young kid I had a friend who was a professional artist and he told me, don’t let anybody put you into a category as an artist. Try to keep yourself spread out a little bit so you can easily go from one thing to another and not have to worry about the classifications of your last work maybe affecting how people view your transformation into something else. I think that advice helped me a lot.”

Aside from galleries, Jordan’s design work can be seen on concert posters, album covers, in magazines, and on t-shirts. His illustrations are all hard angles and glass-sharp edges in contrasting colors. There is a dark and emotional thread of grim Orwellian proportions that runs beneath the surface of them. A gas junkie waits at a pump, nozzle pointed toward his own skull as if a holding gun in a suicidal gesture.  An attractive woman stands tormented by office demons, tortured by the bondage of her work life.  A blizzard of infamous news headlines relating to the current administration whirls in the air around an ostrich with its head buried. These are images from an amusement park of the worst kind: the rides don’t mock death, they are death, and you can’t get off. 


“Politics are very important right now,” Jordan says, the glow of the computer screen lighting his features, “especially with what’s going on with our government.” He pauses, then says this: “what isn’t wrong?” ##