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Our Journal

Illustrator Jordan Wray talks book tours, freelancing and being nice

We catch up with BA (Hons) Illustration alumnus Jordan Wray for an insight into his illustrated children's books, creative blocks and drinking champagne with Blue Peter and Judith Kerr.

BA (Hons) Illustration alumnus Jordan Wray lives and works in Canada as an illustrator and children’s literature writer. Described as 'ingenuitive' and 'inspirational' by the Irish Times and Daily Mail, Jordan’s worked with more than a handful of big clients including Penguin Random House, Little Tiger, Oxford University Press, Usborne Books, The Quarto Group, and Paperchase.

Jordan graduated from Plymouth College of Art in 2014 with a First Class Honours and started out in the industry working for Hallmark Cards, writing and illustrating fresh designs for the shelves for two years before taking the leap into freelancing.

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Jordan Wray at a book signing event for Rosa Draws

Can you describe your style in 3 words?
Cat talker, adventurer, doughnut enthusiast!

What are your favourite ways of working?
I really like working with mixed media, with using good honest pencil crayons you can never go wrong! I also work with elements of digital goodness and I’m in love with the new pencil brushes I’ve recently downloaded in photoshop.

Do you ever have creative blocks? If so, what do you do to get past them?
I have SO many creative blocks on a daily basis, especially when I get clients who give no direction and give me full creative say. To move past this, I do silly things like roll around in the grass, lay face down in the park, or even just take a nap until my creativity decides to come back.

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Rosa Draws by Jordan Wray

I used to worry about what would happen after university, would I ever get a creative job? The answer is YES. There’s always a way.
Jordan Wray
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Rosa Draws by Jordan Wray

What’s the most difficult or frustrating part of the job?
Now I’m not the one to wine about things but I think the most frustrating part of my job is late payments. It’s ironic how some clients can be REALLY pushy to meet deadlines and flag projects as ‘priority’ and you bust a gut to finish on time, earlier even just in case of amends but when the time comes around for payment, they can take months to pay up!

What project has been the most enjoyable and why?
The most enjoyable and rewarding project I’ve had HAS to be my first ever authored and illustrated book, ‘Rosa Draws’, published by Quarto. I usually illustrate children’s books which is fun but having authored this one, I had full creative say in the style, theme and concept... ’Rosa Draws’ was my baby, my first project that was FULLY mine which led to a national book tour in schools, hospitals and Waterstones, where I did signings, had my photograph taken, got written about in the press and appeared on the radio numerous times. The hype was just unreal!... I even was invited to an author rooftop event in London, where I drank champagne with Blue Peter and Judith Kerr!

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One of Jordan Wray's card designs for Hallmark

If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself when you were a student?
This is a good question! If I could go back in time and tell student Jordan something, it would probably be ‘stop worrying’. I used to worry about what would happen after university, would I ever get a creative job? The answer is YES. There’s always a way. Keep working hard, keep annoying companies for work or advice, portfolio crits and internships but remember to be nice about it and NEVER give in.


Read more alumni and student interviews in BA (Hons) Illustration’s Laud Issue One.