What was originally sidewalk chalk leftovers during the COVID-19 pandemic has grown into something bigger for a Lubbock teenager.
A 16-year-old junior in high school, Jordan Simmons is a self-taught artist who has made a name for himself in West Texas with his works created largely on sidewalks and driveways and shared on social media.
He started drawing in a sketchbook, but with his mother forced to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, he had to find a way to look after himself and his sister.
So he explored beyond the sketchbook, heading to his back porch with leftover sidewalk chalk.
Many Lubbockites and others across the country made a habit of taking pretty sidewalk photos during the first few weeks of COVID-19 quarantines – but Simmons took it to another level.
“When I first started doing chalk art, something clicked a certain way and I really enjoyed it,” Simmons said.
Starting in April 2020, he shared images of one of his first creations – the characters from the cartoon Scooby-Doo – to his Jordan’s Chalk Art Facebook page, and it took off. His first photo was popular on Facebook, as were subsequent images he shared, and he quickly gained popularity.
This exposure opened the door to other opportunities for the young man, with fans offering to pay him for his work, and a year later he was able to save money and buy his first car.
He has produced several pieces in and around Lubbock, including one at the First Friday Art Trail in May.
Although he enjoys creating works of art, the reaction he gets from people for his work is his biggest motivation to keep going.
“Just knowing someone as small as me in the world can make a big difference to others,” Simmons said.
Simmons’ mother Natossiah Hudspeth said he has met a lot of people who believe in him and receives an abundance of positive feedback.
“It pleases my heart,” she said.
His work has expanded beyond simple sidewalk chalk. He will paint on borders, canvases, create custom chalk art, do murals or window art. Its prices depend on the cost of materials, the time it takes and the size of the room.
During the pandemic, people were giving chalk to Simmons, who can go through a large package in about two to three days.
With this continued support for his work and the growth of his business, Simmons was able to support himself.
“He said ‘Mom, just to think all this art really pays off,’” Hudspeth said.
The favorite part of Simmons is how everyone wants something different.
“This is the opportunity to do something new every time,” he said.
Usually booked a week in advance, Simmons said a room would take him an average of an hour or two.
Although chalk art can last up to a week under normal weather conditions, it can apply hairspray to make chalk stick for up to two weeks.
As his journey continues, he wants to learn the new skill of sculpting.
“As kids we used to play superheroes and action figures, so I feel like sculpting, in a way, is kind of like making your own,” he said. Simmons said.