Born in Seoul, South Korea, Jon MacNair grew up in Michigan and developed a great interest in drawing and arts. Later he attended The Maryland Institute College of Art and earned a Bachelors of Fine Art in illustration. Working over varied themes of magic, rituals, and many a bizarre and grotesque things, Jon is creating whimsical artwork dealing with medieval subjects, surrealism, mythology, fairy tales etc. Illustrations of Jon evoke fear and intrigue with their monsters and alien characters. These fearful creatures emerge from strange waters and transport themselves through fanciful means. Most of the artwork of Jon MacNair is in brilliant monochrome but he’s also been working with color and result is more vivid. Here’s more from Jon MacNair about his life and his journey into art:
I was born in Seoul, South Korea, was raised in Michigan and currently live in Portland, Oregon. I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and earned a BFA in Illustration. I currently divide my time between freelance illustration projects and gallery exhibitions. Aside from art, I enjoy cooking, photography and have a deep love of films.
What are the milestones of your journey into art?
It was probably more of an ongoing interest since I was a small child. Making the decision to attend an art college was probably the most important milestone in my journey into art. My life could have gone a lot of different directions at that time.
I mainly create drawings, but I also enjoy printmaking (such as lino-cuts).
How do you create your illustrations and how much time does it take on average?
That depends entirely on the size and complexity of the piece. It could be a few hours or a few weeks. My process if pretty basic. First I create small thumbnail sketches, then sketch out the piece in pencil on the final paper, then ink the lines, then add ink washes to create tone and shading.
I’ve always loved animals as well as most things fantastical. It’s the perfect merging of the two.
Is there something that challenges you as an artist?
Just the daily obstacles of any artist… getting past the point where I am staring at a blank piece of paper can be tedious.
I’m really bad at describing my own style. I’d much rather have other people described it. A lot of people think it is very dark, however I don’t think that is always the case.
What equipment and material do you mostly use?
India ink, pens, nibs, erasers, pencils, brushes.
My work has been published in Grove, 21st Amendment Brewing, On3P Skis, Computer Arts Projects Magazine, The Seattle Stranger, Pittsburgh City Paper, The Washington Square Review, Baltimore Magazine, The Riverfront Times, Baltimore City Paper, Urbanite, Hyphen Magazine, Tooth and Nail Records, Closed Casket Activities, Annalemma Magazine, Elle Girl, Willamette Week, Color Ink Book.
I would love to dabble in other mediums, such as painting, embroidery and 3-dimension mediums at some point. I would also love to publish a book of my artwork in the future. Other than that I will continue to be occupied with freelance illustration projects and gallery exhibitions. I am currently working on a solo show for the end of August and will be participating in a group show in Germany in the fall.
I like medieval art (particularly tapestries and illuminated manuscripts), surrealism, German expressionist films, fairy tales, mythology, and works of animators like Jan Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay, artists like Edward Gorey, Arthur Rackham, Harry Clarke, William Blake, Gustaf Tenggren Charley Harper, Kay Nielsen, Edvard Munch, Frida Kahlo, Rockwell Kent, Henry Fuseli, Jean Dupas.
Two books I would recommend are “Cabinet of Natural Curiosities” by Albertus Seba and “Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life” by Todd Oldham.