Collage to Painting–Big Mutant


This is the collage for the Big Mutant painting that became the cover of the Mars Volta album Amputechture. Most of the people who might read this Blog will probably know the image as the TMV cover, but not many people have seen the collage that inspired it back in 2000. This is one of the collages that changed my life–not only because of the visibility it got me, but also because it helped me see the world a little bit differently.


It’s still one of the strangest images I’ve come up with. Pulling the Mutant out of the jumble that became the head is one of my prouder accomplishments of the imagination. Nobody really knew what to think about it, or what to say, so I felt like I’d accomplished my goal to totally confuse anybody who saw it. “Answer no questions, ask as many as possible.” I’m not the only one who sez that….

My Sweetheart Nancy’s son was in town, I think the first time we met. He saw the Mutant and said “WTF is THAT?” I really appreciated his honesty–it was hilarious! As it turned out, a few weeks later I’d connected with TMV and Nancy’s son called. She said “Remember that painting you said WTF is THAT? Well it just became an album cover for a band called the Mars Volta.” One of our favorite stories.

Collage, for me, is the closest thing I’ve found to instant gratification as an artist. I vaguely remember getting into something pretty close to collage in High School. Then, years later, 1980, to be exact, I met John Pound, later to become Godfather of Garbage Pail Kids. At that point he was doing Sci-Fi book covers, and using collage/photomontage to create robots for some of those covers. I was impressed and inspired, but it wasn’t until late ’83 that I actually started doing my own collages. I was instantly hooked. Now, 30 years later, I just passed the 1800 (yeah, one Thousand eight hundred) mark a couple weeks ago.

Anybody can do collage. Often times when I’m working on a collage that becomes a painting, the most creative part of the process occurs in the collage phase. If I do it right, there’s not much left but to transcribe it into a painting. Kinda like a musician reading sheet music to play. Anyway, my intention in sharing these Collage to Painting posts is to show where my own inspiration comes from. No secret processes or mystery, here. Just the magic of imagination, I hope. More on the way….

Next time: ????


  1. Hi Mr Jordan, i discovered your art with this painting and (i hope you’ll not be angry) i divided and printed the image on 18 A4 pages with my computer printer. It’s been 6 or 7 years it’s hanged on my wall and today i moved to another house and it’s the first thing i put on the wall. Everyone who come to visit me says “putain c’est quoi ce truc” (it’s a near translation of “WTF is that” in french). Thks

  2. Caron wrote:

    I’ve always wondered about the album art and artist.
    It’s nice to know how that came to be.
    Love it.