Artist of the Month : Jenny Jordahl

Jan 3, 2022

Jenny Jordahl (1989) graduated from the Oslo Academy of the Arts. She is an artist, cartoonist, author, illustrator and graphic designer. Jordahl has distinguished herself with a clear feminist voice among comic book creators and in her drawings she conveys important themes such as climate and the environment and exclusion. The characteristic of Jordahl's drawings are strong, engaging and clever illustrations made with warmth and humor. She illustrates a permanent environmental column in Aftenposten junior and she has illustrated and published a number of books; The F-ordet (2015), 60 kvinner du skulle ha møtt (2016), Kvinner i kamp (2018), Hva skjedde egentlig med deg? (2020) and she is now current withPatriarkatet faller (2021). Kvinner i kamp has been sold to 27 countries and is thus the most translated Norwegian comic book of all time. In Russia it was given an 18-year age limit and in the American version nipples had to be censored.

TF: Jenny, can you tell us a little about your artistic work?

JJ: As a kid, I used to sit for hours copying and imitating comics. Favorite motifs were Magica from Tryll and Billy. A fun combination! I have always loved to sit down with the drawing pad, and often made small adventures around the drawings. I could be completely immersed in my own little universes. But when I started at the Academy of Fine Arts, it stopped. I simply got performance anxiety about how good the others were, and thought I was better suited as a graphic designer. I went in that direction for several years, and worked both as Art Director TV 2 and in a design agency. In my early 20s, I worked in the team that made the Center Party's current logo. Fun fact!

It was only later, when I started to get involved politically, that the joy of drawing flared up again. Then the goal of the drawings was not that they should be fine. The goal was for them to work. They should convey a message and be effective. I worked for a long time as a freelance illustrator for a number of organizations, often with rather heavy themes. Loss of biodiversity, international trade agreements, tax havens… Eventually I moved on to comics, where I could combine text and illustration to say a lot in a short time. Today, I work almost exclusively with books, and in recent years have published several comics about, among other things, feminism, climate and environment and mental health.

TF: How do you use drawing in your work? Tell us a little about your work process!

JJ: I do most of the preparation in my head. I imagine words and sentences, comic strips and panels. It's really a bit annoying. There are so many who have such great sketchbooks, while my sketches are thoughts. And it is impossible to exhibit and show thoughts! When I first sit down and draw, it's pretty close to the end result. The positive thing about working like this is that it saves time. I'm probably pretty impatient, and like to finish things. That is probably also the reason why I quickly switched to drawing digitally. On the iPad, I have all the drawing tools in one place. I do not have to worry about ink stains or ugly markers - everything can be easily erased or adjusted.

When I draw for my own part, ie not books or assignments, the process is a little different. Then I can experiment a little more and test out tools, colors and styles I am not used to.

TF: What is digital drawing?

JJ: A digital drawing is made or processed in a computer program. The final and "finished" drawing is located as a file on the creator's machine. I draw in a program called Procreate on the iPad, and I think it's great. I can put marker, color, light and shadow in my own layers, which gives me a control I would not have had if I drew on paper. I sell some prints of digital drawings at galleries. These are numbered, signed and only available in a limited number. So if you buy one of them, you are the lucky owner of a rare and original print.

‍ TF: What inspires you? Do you work from a theme?

JJ: Although I have worked a lot politically, I can be inspired by almost everything. If I want to highlight something, it has to be computer games and anime. There I get a lot both when it comes to storytelling and visual tools. Nature is also an eternal source of commitment and inspiration. I have always been concerned with being as much out there as possible - and learning as much as possible. I'm always amazed at how much there is! Blind sharks that live under the ice and become many hundreds of years old, or immortal jellyfish that go in an eternal life loop. And I get scared and sad when I see nature disappear. That's why I'm very happy to make the cartoon “Grønne greier” together with climate journalist Ole Mathismoen. I get to draw both about what I think is the most beautiful thing in the whole world - and a chance to take care of it.

TF: What are you currently working on?

JJ: I always have many parallel projects and like to be busy. Now I am working on a comic book based on the old weekly magazine "Alle Kvinners Blad", which is scheduled to be published next autumn. Every week I deliver "Grønne greier" to Aftenposten junior, in addition to posting small satirical comics on instagram. I also illustrate a new Swedish book series by the talented Kristina Sigunsdotter. Otherwise, I have several book projects on the horizon, and am in the starting phase of a new cartoon that is somewhere between sci-fi and fantasy. It's going to be completely different than anything I've done before. I dread-look forward!

TF: Tell us a little about your work in Tegnerforbundet's sales department!

JJ: It really is a good mix! Several of the motifs are taken from the books I have made in collaboration with author Marta Breen, and deal with feminism and gender equality. But there are also more "hidden" works, which have only just seen the light of day before. These are illustrations I have made for myself, without a specific purpose. I want to lift them up. They differ from much else I have done, both in style and motif, and have a playfulness that I appreciate. I hope others will do the same.

See available works by Jenny Jordahl in the online store.