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In the Studio: Jordan Dawson – BA Fine Art

Detail of ‘Connor McGregor’, Jordan Dawson, 2017
Written by
Frances Bailey
Published date
26 May 2017

Jordan Dawson, graduating from BA Fine Art this summer, talks to us about the inspiration for his hyperreal pencil drawings, the value of undertaking a foundation year, and his love of shoes.

Hi Jordan, where are you from?

London, England.

Describe your experience at Chelsea in 3 words     

Exciting, Challenging, Creative.

Tell us about what you are working on for your final show

I’ve just finished a 5-month long drawing of UFC fighter Connor McGregor which is currently being framed in college.

Boxers and UFC fighters are typically seen as tough and fearless, however this drawing attempts to subvert that by stripping McGregor down to the nude and showing him as not only similar to everyone else, but also as vulnerable. His stance in the drawing balances his powerful boxer side and his exposed human side. My earlier works have explored judgement based on appearance, looking at freckles, tattoos, scars, anorexia and cancer, so this piece is an extension of that exploration. I have always had a love for drawing people, particularly those who I feel carry a message about the way society passes judgement. Ultimately, appearance does not tell you what an individual is like on the inside.

‘Scars’, Jordan Dawson, pencil, charcoal and watercolor

What has been your greatest challenge so far in working towards the degree show?

I have tried different techniques with my pencil work as well as using different media, but as I was in my final year and coming up to the degree show, I felt I needed to stick to pencil work and not try out things until after I graduate so that I have much more time to complete it. I never like to rush my work.

Trying to get the McGregor drawing finished in time has also been a challenge. I haven’t done a drawing this big before and creating something over months of time and effort was a huge push. When I draw on a smaller scale I tend to move from drawing to drawing so that I don’t have to concentrate on one image, but having to push to finish this drawing in time, this was a challenge I had to take on.

Detail of ‘McGregor’, Jordan Dawson, 2017, pencil on paper

What do you see yourself doing after you graduate, what are your career ambitions?

I want to maybe go into shoe design as I have a massive love for design and shoes.

I currently work at NikeTown London in Oxford Circus. A lot of people have seen my work and have always been asking me what I want to do after I graduate and I could never answer with a job title or career and thought I would be stuck. However, after a lot of thinking it just came to me one night that I have always had a love for shoes since I was little and have a collection of over 50 pairs in my cupboard, some I have to say are unworn for collection purposes but I thought why not combine my artistic world with shoes and become a designer?

‘Mugshots’, Jordan Dawson, pencil, charcoal and watercolor

What have you enjoyed most about studying at Chelsea? 

I have enjoyed pushing myself to the limits. I can see my improvement over time and I’m proud to be where I am at this point.

I was always asked to draw on a much larger scale and I never thought it was possible. But I have improved on my speed and have achieved something I didn’t think I could and that’s something I have to thank my tutors and peers around me for, for pushing me to the next level.

‘Meredith’, Jordan Dawson, 2017, pencil and charcoal

What have you most enjoyed about the area around Chelsea? Any tips? 

Using all the space you can. Don’t take anything for granted and use the galleries that are all around London to influence your work and inspire you!

I never went to galleries that often when I was in my younger years during GCSE and A-Level and looking back on it I really should have. But being at university and having the freedom to roam around London much more freely has been an experience to savour.

‘Cancer’, Jordan Dawson, Pencil, charcoal and watercolor

What would you say to someone who is thinking about doing your course? Any advice?

Do it! Studying at Chelsea has been one of the best choices in my life so far! I have met some great people – not only students but the tutors as well. I never thought that I would go to university after my A-Levels. I first started my Foundation Diploma in Art & Design course at Camberwell College of Arts. I took the diagnostic route, and in the first 6 weeks we were allowed to express ourselves so freely compared to during secondary school, and this is something that I will never forget. I was always asked to use something different to pencil at A-Level and I thought ‘why can’t I use the medium I want to!?’ But my foundation course was completely different, my tutor came in and said “do whatever you want and I’ll come back in 2 hours”. I wasn’t used to that freedom and I loved it. I then specialised in drawing and never looked back. I came to Chelsea and continued with the work that I started on my foundation. Do it! You’ll regret it if you don’t.

You can follow Jordan’s work on his Instagram feed

Find out more about our BA Fine Art course

See more of out students’ work at the Degree Show